June 18, 2019
Just like that?
Nobody wants to be sold to. Nobody wants loads of numbers dropped on them. What do they want?
They want an emotional response.
They want your STORY.
In this podcast recap, we’ll explore why storytelling is so important to your sales career and how to tell stories that resonate. We’ll also touch on a few bonus tips for newcomers to the sales profession.
Sales & Storytelling
Every sales rep needs a great story.
In fact, according to Corporate Bro, the self-proclaimed uniter of sales-savages from around the world, a good story might just be the most powerful tool in your arsenal. “Stories evoke the emotions of your potential buyers and influence them in ways they don’t realize,” Corporate Bro said. “Every rep should have a story in mind that relates to the specific product, industry, and buyer.”
So how can you formulate a compelling story that doesn’t come off as feeling forced or cheesy? Listening to the recorded sales calls of your colleagues is a great place to start. “At Mixmax, part of our standard onboarding cadence involves listening to different individuals,” said Don Erwin, Head of Revenue at Mixmax. “We encourage reps to write down things that they hear and weave them into their own voice and style.”
Customer case studies can also serve as effective stories, as long as they don’t seem too good to be true. “Prospects don’t want to be overloaded with how you delivered a 46% increase in productivity, 3X revenue growth, blah, blah, blah,” Corporate Bro said. “People have specific problems they’re trying to solve for, so talk about how those problems are solved through your stories.”
Another effective tactic involves the use of self-deprecation. “It’s hard to build trust as a salesperson,” Corporate Bro said. “I put myself down at times in order to disarm prospects right when I get on the call.” Openly acknowledging the uneasiness that a prospect may be feeling can lighten the mood. “I’ll often use the line, ‘I know that talking to a salesperson is somewhere between jury duty and going to the dentist, so I appreciate you giving me a little bit of your time,’” Corporate Bro said.
There are certain cases, of course, where storytelling can fall flat. “Some CEOs just want to know the price and what you do in one sentence,” Corporate Bro said. “They don’t have time for stories, so you need to be able to read each situation.”
Bonus Tips for Sales Newbies
Stellar stories are important in sales, but they’re no guarantee for success. If you’re new to sales or were recently hired into your first SDR job, consider these bonus tips from today’s podcast:
“Every single deal that you’ll ever win starts and is won at the discovery phase,” Erwin said. “Unfortunately, discovery is something many folks forget to do.” Doing adequate discovery is not necessarily difficult, but it does require a strategic approach. “The most important aspect involves understanding the questions that you want to ask,” Erwin said. “Ask your questions, shut up, and let the customer talk about their specific challenges.”
Discovery has two possible outcomes: qualification or disqualification. Sales is a numbers game, which means that disqualification is usually more common than qualification—especially for SDRs at the top of the funnel. “Salespeople fail a lot,” Corporate Bro said. “You have to be OK with failing and avoid the temptation to stop calling.”
Just because a qualified prospect is ready to see your solution, it doesn’t mean you should pivot into hard selling mode. Too often sales reps get overly excited about the demo and lose sight of solving the customer’s problems. A better approach focuses on the needs that were identified during discovery. “Salespeople can become overly proud about their product knowledge and gloss over the most important parts of the demo,” Erwin said. “Start by showing what your customers actually care about. You can always show them more later.”
Even seasoned professionals still experience the emotional ups and downs of being in sales. “It’s really easy to carry your emotions out the door at the end of the day,” Corporate Bro said. “There’s a fine balance between going home, doing more work, stressing yourself out, and showing up miserable every day.” Successful sales reps try to find a healthy work-life balance, which translates into even more success. “Sales veterans act the same whether they’re number one on the leaderboard or at the bottom,” Corporate Bro said. “Who do you want on the battlefield with you—someone who is all over the place emotionally or someone you can trust regardless of where they’re at on the leaderboard?”
Marketing teams perform A/B tests to optimize their messaging. Account executives and SDRs should do the same. “Every call should be an experiment,” Corporate Bro said. “Just because something worked or failed once, you shouldn’t assume that will always be the case.” Using Mixmax can be one simple way to test different email messages, templates, and sequences. For cold calling, Corporate Bro recommends trying different openers. “One day start with a joke and compare that to openers without a joke,” Corporate Bro said. “Just be sure to track your results, otherwise you’re just hoping something sticks.”
Tell a Better Story with Mixmax
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