As a sales centric organization, our mission is to grow. We’ve got a pretty big goal to reach— $40M by 2018— and to get there, our focus continues to be on giving our clients the best experience possible while educating new prospects about the value that we bring to the table. In order to help effectively discuss how we can help our customers, like most organizations, we have a sales deck that we use to introduce brands to how our products can work for them. But a sales deck is, well…just a sales deck. It means nothing unless there’s a passionate, knowledgeable sales person behind it who can explain our capabilities, understands a prospect’s business model/struggles, and recognizes how our products can solve a prospect’s pain points. More than that, being successful means bringing the sales deck to life— animating the facts and figures with real-world scenarios of how our product has worked in the past, solved the problems of others in the prospect’s industry, and how we can do the same for them. In other words, morphing a pitch into a closed deal means conveying value through storytelling. So how do we ensure that our sales people are delivering this kind of interactive experience and teaching through stories? As a company, this is a continual training process for us. Not only do we focus on the art of storytelling during a sales colleague’s initial training period, we have followup trainings long after a rep onboards. This allows for a more in-depth understanding of why we sell the way we do, as well as the opportunity to ask questions regarding specific scenarios. Much of this training is focused around the book “Stories That Sell: Turn Satisfied Customers into Your Most Powerful Sales & Marketing Asset” by Casey Hibbard (seriously, check it out— it’s pretty awesome). The book covers how to use the successes that you’ve had with your current customers and in turn, leveraging those scenarios to help you close new deals. Combined with the experiences of our sales leaders, we train on the following three steps from Hibbard’s book on telling an effective story: — The Setup: An introduction of companies - This could mean beginning a story by discussing similar companies we’ve worked with, bringing up related companies in the marketplace that have had some of the same issues, etc. — The Complication: Companies encounter a challenge - This could be a challenge with the introduced company's marketing, one in the ecosystem in general, a goal that they wanted to reach, etc. — The Resolution: Companies solve or succumb to the challenge - Explaining how we’ve helped to solve similar problems in the past, how the introduced company succeeded by leveraging specific resources, or even how/why the company failed. Beyond story structure itself, we also teach our reps to remember a few things during their delivery: — Use Visuals: While your sales deck and graphics aren't there to tell the story itself, they are there to help guide you in your discussion. Think of how you yourself learn. Often, visuals help your audience to get a better grasp of the story you’re telling them, helping to strengthen your communicated value propositions. — Don’t Rush: Good storytelling is emotional. If you’re truly trying to connect with your prospects, zipping through examples or anecdotes you’re using as tools isn’t going to help. Take your time and focus on what matters. — Have Empathy: Showing that you empathize is important, not just for the prospect you’re speaking to, but also for your current clients and the subjects of your story. As someone who’s there proposing to help solve your prospect’s challenges, this means not only understanding the effects of the difficulties they’re facing, but also the amount of effort necessary for any company to achieve their goals. Stories are how we navigate the world around us. It’s how we relate to our environment and more, how we truly grasp ideas and concepts. Selling through stories means giving your prospects real examples of how your products have helped people and more, how you can help them. Not only can this generate increased revenue and shorten the sales cycle, it allows you to connect with your prospects in a way that regurgitating facts from a slide never could.