When I ask the Modern Day Sales Rep what they think effective outreach looks like, they often tell me, ‘a concise capabilities deck’. My team has a slightly different approach on this, we tell a story. I know that if I can successfully engage someone in a story, I’ve earned a little bit more of their time to continue the conversation (through sharing a capabilities deck, thought leadership piece, having a one-on-one meeting…).
Why tell a story
For my team, the entire sales pitch is a story; a progression of information that leads them on relatable journey. In our story, the client is the hero with pain points and we are the guide that assists them on their path to glory. Here’s an example of the process we go through when creating a story.
1. The Problem—What industry-specific problems does the hero (prospect) face?
2. The Journey—How can your solution help the hero solve their problem?
3. The Solution—What meaningful results come from your solution?
We are not the first team to come to conclusion that storytelling is a superior way of communicating ideas. CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, notoriously banned Powerpoint from his team in 2018 citing “[Anecdotal stories are] so much better than the typical PowerPoint presentation for so many reasons,”. Google is another A-list company to reject old-school presentation styles. Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, prefers to create image-heavy presentations stating, “since stories are best told with pictures, bullet points and text-heavy slides are increasingly avoided at Google,”.
How to tell a story
The goal of our story is to connect with our prospective client, and to move them to take a specific action. Stories create bonds between us—socially, culturally, spiritually, and in business. The best way to establish this bond is by telling a relatable story that we already feel connected to. These are seven highly familiar story plots that we can use in business:
Overcoming the Monster— Effective when targeting that challenger brand in your target vertical.
Rags to Riches— Good story type for the next hot start-up you’re talking to.
The Quest— Who doesn’t like a good quest? Think of the goal and what they have to overcome to get there.
Voyage and Return— Not a story type we use often
Comedy— Just make sure it’s funny to someone else besides you.
Tragedy— This is not a type we lead with.
Rebirth— Could be the story of a rebrand.
Companies that foster a storytelling culture see relationships deepen between colleagues and clients, while empowering the Modern Sales Rep to develop a more natural and effective communication style.
As you continue to tell your story, take note of people’s reactions—what are they interested in, and when do they tune out? Which parts inspire them to take action? Share your own stories and experiences with clients, in team meetings, and in everyday conversation.
I, for one, am always interested in exchanging a good story. Check out my event calendar, and maybe we’ll have the opportunity to connect.
Rockford Hunt is the VP of Business Development at RAPP (rapp.com). For the last 15 years he has been helping corporations launch that next big idea. If you would like to discuss your next big idea, or for any other development needs you may have, contact 310-993-7625 or firstname.lastname@example.org