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About This Episode
Your team of salespeople should be nothing more than an army of storytellers because stories improve engagement. Any position on your team that entails major front-facing time with prospects should be able to speak clearly and deeply on your product using the power of story.
Beau Brooks doesn’t just want his sales team pitching a product to a prospect, he wants them to passionately share relatable stories of success from others who’ve said yes. As the VP of Sales at Formstack, Beau leads the team of people on the frontlines; the group that interacts with leaders in diverse industries, which can make relatable storytelling hard to keep up with.
He wants nothing more than for his team to be equipped to confidently share the value former customers have received from their product. This helps people understand why they’re even talking to you in the first place. As Beau says, it should be less about here’s what my product does and more about here’s how people are benefiting from my product.
Appealing to the Broader Public
Sharing value propositions with customers becomes increasingly complex when your prospects span a variety of industry sectors. This led Beau to create a three-part framework that his team could reference when hoping to share an impactful story.
The key is that it doesn’t have to be complex. If you’re writing a novel, you’re going to lay out the entire framework chapter by chapter. But in this type of storytelling, you just don’t need that much detail. Beau’s framework has three simple pillars:
Find out the challenge the organization faced. You generally learn about this challenge during a discovery call.
Next, look for the how. How did they go about solving that challenge- the actual execution of the solution. That could mean what they did with your product, how they put it into place and any technical or relational aspects of it.
Finally, and most importantly, find out the value they have seen as a result of solving that challenge with your product. You always want to show tangible results/ROI/impact. This allows someone to be able to see themselves also solving that problem because they can relate to the challenge.
These three pillars have allowed Beau’s team to really structure how they see business and tell stories that cross the gamut. Too many people default to using snippets. Those are simple stories that everybody in the company knows about a keystone customer.
The problem with that? If the customer is impressed by that story/solution, they might ask that’s great, so how did you do that? And that’s where a salesperson might get stuck if they’re not really familiar with that case study.
They’ve learned the challenge and the value of solving it, but they haven’t learned the story behind it. When you tell the story correctly, you can sense which pillar you’re describing in each section of the story.
More Tips on Telling Good Stories
Make the Story Relevant
Build an easily accessible repository of stories your team can reference when meeting with clients. But encourage them not to go into meetings with a story plan in place. As Stephen Covey says, seek first to understand. Remember, relevant doesn’t always mean the same industry. You may find a more relevant story from a former client in a completely different sector.
Go into your meeting, ask questions, and do your best to understand what they’re challenges are so that you can tell relevant stories and help them find potential solutions through your product.
Make the World Smaller
People say you can’t build rapport by talking about the weather, but Beau says it depends on how you talk about it. Instead of talking about the weather wherever you’re based, ask them something relevant about the weather where they’re based. Maybe they’ve been experiencing wildfires or flooding.
When you build rapport by discussing something relevant to where they are, you make the world smaller. Find commonality and make it feel as if you’re not so far away even if you’re chatting on a video call.
Celebrate the Right Things
Beau says we should stop celebrating that fact that we’ve just closed a sale or secured a new client. We shouldn’t call that a win. This is a habit of salespeople; they celebrate the outcome when really they should celebrate the problem they’re going to potentially solve.
Future pacing is the concept where, as you’re speaking with a prospect, you want them to live in the environment that they will be in once they’ve adopted your product and are seeing the benefits. Emotion plays a big part in this. If you get visually excited about the story you’re telling, you’re going to have a tremendous impact in shifting your prospect’s attitude. It’s like reading a story to a child- the delivery is everything.
If someone is facing a tough challenge in their company and they can hear the excitement in your voice around helping solve it, they’re more likely to want to do business with you. In order to future pace, you have to provide relevant examples. And since you have an established rapport and a new level of trust because they know you’re passionate about what you do, you now also have more credibility.
It’s tough to teach, but it can be practiced and learned. If you don’t have that type of emotion in you, consider asking yourself if you’re in the right line of work.
Every sales company needs an army of storytellers. Through a structured approach and a framework of how your company tells stories, you can teach them how to do this well. The end result? A product that takes off because it creates an unstoppable virality.