“Just the facts, ma’am.”
If your sales enablement content comes off as a real Joe Friday, it’s probably not making much of an impression on your prospective customers.
Facts and features are great—just not in your sales content.
The best sales enablement pros find ways to spin product specs and customer testimonials into a compelling sales narrative.
Why? Buyers respond to it. Messages received as part of a story register 22 times better with people than just facts. And while people like to buy, no one wants to be sold to: 71 percent of buyers are turned off by content that seems like a sales pitch.
Good sales storytelling:
- Puts your client in the hero role;
- Helps differentiate your brand from competitors;
- And makes it easier for your customers to buy.
Here are three pieces of sales enablement content that benefit from some good old-fashioned storytelling and tips for how to incorporate it right.
Case studies are a staple of sales enablement for a reason. They’re the proof in the pudding, and a great way to build trust with your prospects.
A lot of case study experts will tell you to include numbers and do a lot of formatting and turn it into a video and an infographic. But before you even think about doing all that, your case study needs to have a story.
No one will care about the numbers without some compelling context. And the best format in the world can’t save a dry-as-dust piece. So why spend the time iterating on something that’s not going to move the needle the way a good story can?
As with many things in life and business, proper preparation will help you craft a powerful case study that stands out. Here’s how:
5 steps to creating a great narrative case study:
1. Pick the right example. Make sure whoever you feature fits your current ideal customer profile (ICP). This will make it easier to craft a story that resonates with the right audience.
2. Get the client on board and at ease. Borrow B2B copywriter Joel Klettle’s ‘magic’ words for making clients comfortable enough to agree to a case study: ask, Can we feature you? It’s more flattering and less scary than saying, Can we use you as a case study? You want the featured client feeling like they can share freely. That’s how you get the good stuff, after all.
3. Have a chat, not an interrogation. Again, it’s all about having a good conversation. Use your call recording software to log your call so you don’t have to worry about taking notes. You can have questions devised in advance but don’t get so hung up on asking them one after another like a robot. Let the conversation flow naturally.
4. Be detail-oriented. Ask about settings, ‘characters’ involved, and the journey from pain to solution.. For example, if before using your remote meeting software your client’s team was travelling an hour each way to cram into a windowless conference room for the monthly meeting, make your reader feel the frustration of the commute and the stuffiness of the room. Feel free to go back to them with questions if there’s something you need to flesh out as you’re writing. It’s the little descriptive details that make a story sing.
5. Keep it real. Watch out for hyperbole or sugarcoating. If they experienced any hiccups along the way, talk about it. People love a comeback story.
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Sales presentations are a chance to tell your story directly to a lead. Hopefully, by the time you’ve wrapped up your presentation, the prospect will be ready to sign on with you.
But you can’t skip the story and go straight to the happy ending. While that might be quicker and easier for your sales team, it’s not doing anything to make it easier for your prospect to decide to buy. The narrative is what does the convincing.
Here are five ways presentations can lose the thread of the story and how to keep it between the lines.
5 ways to spoil a good sales presentation story:
1. Focus too much on results. If you were watching an episode of a crime drama and it skipped the whole investigation part and went straight to arresting the culprit, wouldn’t you feel cheated? Or confused? That big reveal of the culprit would land much differently if you knew what went into cracking the case. In your sales presentation, you have to show you understand the prospect’s problem AND make sure the prospect understands their problem before you can talk about possible results.
2. Only tell them what they already know. What if the detective in the police show never uncovered new clues? What if they just kept going over and over the facts of the case that had already been established? That’d be pretty boring. In your presentation it’s not about facts per se; it’s about how you offer insight into the facts and features of your offering.
3. No build-up. Those police shows know how to create suspense and your presentation narratively should be building towards something, too. As Chris Orlob, director of sales at Gong.io, says, “lead prospects to your differentiators, don’t lead with them”. Bolster your unique value proposition by creating some tension first. Lean into the prospect’s pain points then showing how your offering is uniquely positioned to solve them.
4. No dialogue. There’s a reason that usually only the villain in a detective story gets to monologue: everyone hates it. It’s boring and distracting. Your presentation story is collaborative and you should be listening more than you’re talking.
5. No proof. The detective can’t just go around accusing people without evidence. Include some of those thoughtful narrative case studies you created so your prospect can see you know what you’re talking about.
The death of webinars has been greatly exaggerated.
Every once in a while, someone declares webinars “over” as a viable lead generation and nurturing format. But how can they be when nine out of 10 B2B professionals say that webinars are their preferred content type?
So maybe it’s not webinars that don’t work. It’s a tendency toward broad, boring, and overlong webinars that turns people off.
What’s going to get that 90 percent of people to show up and stay engaged with your webinar? Yup, storytelling. Here’s how to use it:
5 ways to set up your webinar for storytelling success
1. Pick a main character. Choose one of your buyer personas to target with your webinar. It may seem more efficient to hold one webinar that appeals to multiple target audiences but by trying to appeal to many you end up pleasing no one.
2. Pick a niche. Now that you have the main character, focus your webinar content on one strategy or pain point your main character is interested in using or solving. Ideally, it’s one you offer.
3. Pick a point of view. Stories have conflict. So if you’re just showcasing how your product works, that’s a demo, not a webinar. Take an interesting stance. Go against an industry norm. Ask a polarizing question. For example, our CEO and co-founder Kyle Racki comes out swinging against lame PDF proposals and how to redesign the proposal creation process in his latest Proposify webinar series.
4. Pick some ‘interest points’. Like a page-turning book, your webinar needs cliff-hangers and foreshadowing too. Ask questions that you don’t answer for a slide or two. Introduce a startling statistic or attention-grabbing graph. Tease some information or topics that you’re going to touch on later.
5. Pick a format. How you present your webinar is going to inform how you tell your story. Single-presenter webinars are the most common and the easiest way to control how you tell the story with a detailed script. But if you opt for an interview or panel discussion style with multiple presenters, it’s still possible to keep your story flowing. Structure your webinar with a clear introduction, interest points or questions to be addressed, and a compelling close and call-to-action.
Sales enablement storytelling
What stories does your sales enablement content tell your prospects?
Storytelling takes your sales enablement content from ‘just the facts’ to ‘just fantastic’. Take a look at your existing content to see where you can add in more story elements and keep the narrative structure in mind as you create new pieces.
Your sales team will be closing deals faster than Joe Friday closes cases.