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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.

Nov 23, 2022

Storytelling is an important skill for salespeople and companies to possess because story is the way humans remember everything. If you give someone a list of facts that aren’t connected in a meaningful way, people will shut you down. 

A good story focuses on a problem that someone has. If you can hone in on a problem so much so that the person recognizes the problem in themselves, they get hooked. Dave Butler shares why problem-focused storytelling is so effective in this episode of Sales Reinvented! 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:59] Why storytelling is an important skill for salespeople to have
  • [2:47] Why storytelling is something that can be learned
  • [4:21] A formula for problem-focused storytelling 
  • [8:38] The attributes of a great sales storyteller
  • [12:05] Resources to improve your storytelling abilities
  • [13:23] Dave’s top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [16:23] Why you need to focus on the problem first

Why storytelling is something that can be learned

Dave notes that you don’t need to be an expert to tell stories. People can be taught to tell stories in a formulaic way that’s just as gripping as the greatest speaker. It’s about focusing on the problem that you’re solving rather than the details of the solution. It becomes straightforward to have every person in your company testing and perfecting the story. The effectiveness of a story comes from repetition.

A formula for problem-focused storytelling

People don’t listen to a story they don’t care about. So the problem that you solve needs to be at the core of the story that matters to them. If they’re struggling with the problem you solve, then you need to amp it up and raise its importance in their mental framework. A problem can be broken down into three components: 

  • External problem: Everyone that’s buying something has a thing they’re trying to fix. 
  • Internal problem: The story can focus on their internal problem, i.e. how the external problem is affecting them internally. 
  • Philosophical problem: Is there a struggle between good and evil? Is there an injustice? 

When you’re telling the story, the hero has to be the listener. The person with the problem is typically weak. They need someone to come alongside them to help them solve the problem. Companies need to be the guide that’s grounded in empathy and competence. Communicate that you care about their problem and that you’re the right entity to fix it. 

Lastly, you have to cast a vision of success or failure. The listener needs to feel what’s at stake. You use this to increase the relevance of the problem in their minds. You need to emphasize that the problem is awful and they shouldn’t have to face it. 

What are the attributes of a great sales storyteller? What are Dave’s top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts? Listen to hear Dave’s thoughts!

Why you need to focus on the problem first

Dave was the first VP of Sales at Aruba Wireless Networks (which was eventually bought out by HP). People at home got to use wireless at home, but they couldn’t do it in their company. They wanted to build a product that enabled people to use wireless networks everywhere. They found seven massive companies in LA and New York that agreed to help them design the product so it would be perfect for them.

They got the product out the door and not a single one of those 14 companies bought it. They didn’t want to deploy wireless because it would create more problems for them (and they didn’t see that it would create additional revenue).

One day in New York, an engineer sitting in a park realized he could still log on to the wireless system. Customers were bringing in wireless access points from homes and plugging them into the bank. It was an incredible security violation. So they changed their product to get rid of unwanted wireless first. Two weeks later, every company was a customer.

You have to make sure that your solution is something that people want. That’s why you must focus on the problem and build from there. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Dave Butler

Connect With Paul Watts 

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