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Sales Reinvented

We at Sales Reinvented are on a mission to change the negative perception of sales people. Each week we will be interviewing experts in the field of sales and sharing their knowledge, ideas and expertise with our listeners. They share with us in our vision of a world where selling is a profession to be proud of. The aim of our formatted show is to provide ‘snackable’ episodes that are short enough to listen to in one sitting but long enough to provide real value that will help you in your sales career. Welcome to the Sales Reinvented Podcast.
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At Sales Reinvented, we are on a mission to change the negative perception of selling. Welcome to the Sales Reinvented Podcast.

Aug 10, 2022

Stories are the earliest form of communication. They’re also the most effective way to connect with someone else. When we tell a good story, the buyer can see themselves in that story. As a result, it cuts through the logical part of the brain and goes straight to the emotional part of the brain. Decisions are made on emotion and backed up with logic. You can leverage a story to connect with your buyer, demonstrate an outcome, and make a sale. Stories make you stand out. Learn how Bernadette McClelland crafts stories in this episode of Sales Reinvented!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:49] Stories make you stand out from the crowd
  • [1:44] Can you become a gifted storyteller? 
  • [2:55] The ingredients of a great story that sells
  • [4:09] Attributes + characteristics of a great storyteller
  • [6:14] Resources to improve storytelling abilities
  • [6:56] Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [10:13] How telling stories helped Bernadette get her green card

Can you become a gifted storyteller? 

Bernadette works with technical CTOs and salespeople. They argue that everything they do is technical and data-driven and that they don’t need storytelling capabilities to sell. When they realize that there is a structure, a process, a purpose, and a logical flow to delivering an impactful story, they embrace it. Some people are natural storytellers. Others realize that they can learn a structure to bring out the stories they already have, the stories that make them stand out from the competition. You have to be open to the idea that a story is a powerful mover and shaker in a sales conversation.

The ingredients of a great story that sells

Everyone is familiar with the “Once upon a time” and “Happy ever after” stories that you tell your kids, right? Those aren’t the stories that Bernadette is talking about. A great story that sells needs to have a relevant business point. You can tell a story, but what is the point? What is the outcome for the buyer? When you tell a great story—for the buyer to feel themselves in the story—it needs color, movement, and dialogue. The story needs some drama.

Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts

Bernadette shares some storytelling tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t waffle. Bernadette jokes that everyone has been in a conversation with salespeople where they question: Where’s this going? What does this mean? How is this relevant? Will they just shut up?! You need to have a structure to your story.
  • Don’t make up stories (or lie about them). If you don’t want to share someone’s name or business name, make it anonymous to protect their confidentiality. 
  • Don’t put yourself as the hero of the story. Too many salespeople do this. 
  • Prepare stories. You conduct research before you speak to a buyer, why not do the same with your stories? Prepare a story to connect with someone (and make sure you’re vulnerable, too). 
  • Be relevant. What is the point of your story? How is it relevant to that particular buyer? Think of stories strategically. 
  • Make the client the hero of the story. A salesperson with the best of intentions might try to share a case study. But a case study starts with, “I have this client…” The minute you say “I” or “we” you’re making the story about yourself. 

Even if a buyer likes you, some part of their psyche is still screaming that you’re a salesperson. There's a lack of trust. If you can demonstrate vulnerability in your story—perhaps where you made a mistake or a buyer had an objection—it lowers their distrust. Stories build trust. 

How stories make you stand out

Bernadette had to sell her economic value to the US Immigration Department. She remembers that it was a huge challenge to overcome. Bernadette approached the National Visa Center at the American Consulate and petitioned to get her green card.

She put together a series of nine stories that she shared with her guide, an attorney. Through these stories, she was able to demonstrate her value to the immigration department. The result? She was given a green card. 

She provided evidence from her past in the form of stories to demonstrate how she could be valuable to the US economy. She fully demonstrated her mantra that stories make you stand out. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Bernadette McClelland

Connect With Paul Watts 

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