This is the second of a four part series on The Storytelling Enterprise. This series outlines the power and promise of capturing the organizations’ relevant selling stories for your sales team and – in a timely way – delivering them so they can be easily practiced and mastered.

Our story so far

Part I of the Storytelling Enterprise blog series outlined the power of everyone in your company capturing stories for the sales team and gave some good examples of selling stories.  But what format do you use and how do you deliver these stories to your sellers?

The evolution of the story deck

Although it is now an integral part of a good sales playbook, the story deck took a long time to evolve into its current form.

When I started my playbook consulting practice, I was focused on capturing the key selling magic in the sales tools that make up the sales playbook.  The focus would vary from engagement to engagement, but there was usually a need to tighten the focus on a sweet spot, further differentiate the evaluation process, bring potential deal breakers forward and qualify harder early on, communicate business value more frequently, be prepared with competitor silver bullets, be ready to respond to prospect questions and objections etc.

But a funny thing always seemed to happen.  I’d sit in on sales meetings and shadow sales calls and keep running across situations that didn’t map to any of my categorized deliverables.  Things like being set up by a competitor on price or a proof point that the company delivered on its product roadmap or how to respond to a prospect that wanted to know why the company wasn’t in the upper right hand quadrant of Gartner’s magic matrix or the compelling story a seller needed to convince a project sponsor to bring her to a line-of-business (LOB) executive.

After years of thinking of them as separate stories and scattering my deliverables across different playbook categories – like competitor and product and analyst and sales process - I realized that I needed to group all the selling stories together in a single deliverable.  Sales Scale Partners calls this deliverable the Story Deck.

‘Story Deck’ format

Story decks can be structured in many ways, but using PowerPoint and having a clickable table of stories with the ability to easily click back to the table from each story is an easy and effective way to deliver a story deck.

A generic story deck has three standard categories: selling stories, evaluation plan and objection handling. Sales Scale Partners typically uses five selling story sections – industry, company, customer, competitor, solution, around five evaluation plan sections like ‘why you want to bring me to the LOB sponsor’,’ why you want to work with me on the business case and bring me to the finance’, ‘why you want to have a value workshop’, ‘why you want to have a solution presentation’ etc.)  and three objection handling sections (why buy anything, why buy mine and why buy now).

Each story in a story deck should be reduced to ~5 bullets and should take 1 – 2 minutes to tell.  The idea is that you need to deliver reps stories ready to go, not a 2 page case study or data sheet that the sellers need to synthesize on their own into a 2 minute story.

 

Conclusion

After spending the time to understand the prospects situation, the best sellers are communicating in tight, example-filled stories. Capturing these stories in their native form , typically 1 – 2 minute versions that can be outlined in 5 bullets, is an important component in any sales playbook.  We’ve outlined a way to do this here and posted a sample ‘story deck’ online (above).

This structured approach to capturing the key selling stories is a good start to help your entire sales team sell like your best sellers.  An important next step is to create a weekly role-playing session so the sales team is mastering a selling story each week.

The next post in this series will outline some ideas to help you structure your story workshop for success.

Until then, good selling!  

Read Part III of the series - The Story Workshop

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