Sales Storytelling: A Sprint or a Marathon?

Sales Storytelling is on the rise, and it should be, because it’s the most compelling way to talk about anything that you wish to sell.

But as a sales person, a key question you need to ask yourself before telling sales stories is – Am I telling this story for a sprint or a marathon with my customer?

Sprint = Short run sales numbers where there is an immense short-term focus.

Marathon = Long-term trusted partnership with customers where you pace yourself and the effort is progressive

One of the key differences between a marathon and a sprint is,

In a Marathon, you pace yourself and listen to your body. In a Sprint, you run as fast as you can and you tell your body,

“Get to the finishing line”.

It’s this difference between listen and tell that forms the foundation of a successful sales story.

For a successful long-term partnership, you care about what your customers’ aspirations are and their challenges in achieving them. In a trusted partnership conversation, the seller would normally be speaking 20 percent of the total time and listening 80 percent.

So how do we do this?

It happens by doing some of these as a starting point:

Storytelling for InterviewsTrain your sales teams to have story-led conversations where they are able to discard the presentations they walked in with and adjust their stories based on what is being discussed, because that is what matters to the customer.

It’s difficult to tell an effective sales story unless you first understand your customer’s story – Stephen Denning

Here is a fantastic example of when a sales person decided to discard what he walked in with and talked about what mattered to the customer.

Storytelling for InterviewsIf you have learnt lessons from failures, be ok to share those failure stories with your customers. Most importantly, talk about how you managed the situation when the failure hit and and what you are doing to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. Sales teams are so focussed on success stories that they come across as fake. It’s not just failure and success but a fine balance of both that makes you real.

Storytelling for InterviewsEmployee incentives must be crafted so that it does not undermine the development of long-term relationships. If you reward only for short-term sales, don’t be surprised if employee behaviour neglects relationship building.

Storytelling for Interviews Lastly, this one also happens to be my personal pet hate.

Don’t ask a newly appointed sales staff, “Why have we not seen the sales numbers come in?” By doing that, you are telling the sales employee to run a sprint and I can guarantee you – soon you will be looking for another sales person to run the same sprint. Give your sales team a path to run a marathon which requires time, but once the relationship is built, it’s their’s to reap the benefits.

I want to run a sales storytelling marathon. How about you?

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