Nail It! Walk the Story, Make your Hero, and Build the Dream is a unique framework to deliver persuasive presentations shown to multiply sales teams’ results very quickly and with high acceptance from both salespeople and prospects.
Since this model for presenting in sales relies on the very basics of persuasion techniques, it is relatively easy for salespeople to adopt, and because it is a conversational and natural way of selling is well-received by prospective buyers who are tired of pushy and pitchy presentations.
Presenting in sales shouldn’t feel like a manipulation game.
When we are taught to ask deep questions during our sales meetings, we fear that doing so will create friction with the prospect, or that we are too invasive, nosy, or just plain bothersome. The truth is, as professionals in our field, without such information, we can’t help our stakeholders to make an informed decision.
Because of the natural acceptance of this model by both salespeople and prospects, it is easy to coach sales professionals in using this framework in their sales presentations. And our prospects will praise this take on otherwise dull meetings.
Disclaimer. Be Warned: I created this method after helping hundreds of sales teams to transform the way they present to build increased revenue and shorter sales cycles. However, there is no third-party research or data to back up my claims. There is a massive difference between a model that I can replicate with my clients with great results and a methodology that can be scaled by and for third-parties.
I want to hear your story and find if this model can help you (or not.) Get in Touch.
If you would like to find if this model can work for your team too, send me a note using the form below so we can talk about your challenges when presenting in sales and funding conversations.
Walk the Story
Walk the Story is about listening to the prospect’s stories (prompted by the right questions) and supporting her narrative, rather than trying to steer her from their set course and into our Story.
It is also about collecting the information that will help you Build the Dream.
In this world of global connection, she is already on her journey and has done her research and even already made decisions (whether you like it or not.) The foundations for the stakeholder’s narrative are set (and maybe outcomes are already being considered!). In a way or another, she knows what she wants.
Most salespeople will try to steer prospects from their set course in attempting to apply persuasion techniques and magic tricks, creating friction. What if instead of pulling rabbits out of hats to try to bring them to our narrative, we support theirs?
By listening carefully, asking the right questions, and adding the missing parts to the story, we get to be part of their journey and influence its course towards a specific outcome in a natural way, just like when two or more people have a conversation and agree on something.
Make your Hero
Remember High on Storytelling? By making your prospect the Hero of the narrative, you are appealing to ancient instincts that set their gears on and connect with the story at much deeper levels than by using abstract narrative and data.
Narratology states that the Hero’s Journey is the general framework of tales and lore. It involves a hero who goes on an adventure, and through a decisive crisis, earns a victory coming home changed by the experience.
See, the Hero’s Journey is a solid template you can use to create a narrative that puts the stakeholder as the central element of the classic Problem-Solution-Outcome sales momentum.
Let’s say Hellen is valiantly facing low sales that have been disseminating terror at Acme Inc. She embarks on a journey of discovery and adventure to find a solution and comes out from it changed, victorious, and with her boss’s and everyone else’s admiration and recognition. You can see how the whole thing gets immediately connected at an emotional level.
By Walking their Story, we get to collect information about where she comes from and where she’s headed. We also learn what struggle brought her to this moment and what she imagines that will happen as a result of talking to you. That journey of identifying the real obstacles, going through a process to solve them (having a conversation with you, for starters), and finally picturing the successful outcome are the tools that you need to Build the Dream.
Build the Dream
Building the dream is about helping Hellen picture how things will be once she becomes the Hero. What is the story in the future that we are building with Hellen that will drive her emotions (and behavior) in that direction?
We can use the details collected during our interactions so far to create a complete picture of how will be Hellen’s life (NOT about benefits or solutions for Acme Inc.) once she becomes the Hero. We will have, from her, a deep emotional commitment and a pull from the future to get there.
I am curious to find if I can help your team achieve the same results as I did for my clients. If you are curious too, get in touch with me directly using the form below.
Real Practice: A True Story
When I started working with Chris, he was suffering from very low engagement in presentations with his SDRs (Sales Development Representatives in an Outbound Prospecting model.) When we first spoke, I started taking some notes about the parts of the problem that created more stress in Chris.
By asking the right questions, I could build a picture of where he was coming from and what the pivotal points of the problem were.
The problem was this: Chris came from a different background, in which using a slide-based tool to present was fine, but now, his team was struggling to keep their prospects’ attention once the presentation started as they used a linear model that felt stiff and lacked relevance to each prospect’s specific concerns.
Besides that, I learned that his team had never had any formal training on how to present – a major red flag.
Moreover, their presentations were remotely delivered using a screen-sharing solution, but its technological complexity was high, and many meetings went astray because either end had technical issues.
And so the process of asking questions to Walk Chris’ Story up to the present moment had me describing it to him as such: his sales team was struggling with a lack of presenting skills and the astray engagement of their prospects. Those, in turn, happened because the team wasn’t able to be quick on their feet to bring the presentation to a conversational level. Technology troubles were part of the problem since they relied both on hardware and software compatibility on the prospect’s side. And that he was on a quest to solve this issue, and now we were in that quest together. We then spent the next few minutes savoring the idea of smooth, conversational meetings and what that meant for him.
Then I told him that his frustration was because those small issues were blocking the view to the bigger picture: if his team could present smoothly, he would be able to bring 10x more qualified prospects to the AE team.
Making Him the Hero
By verbalizing the struggle back to Chris and placing him in that emotional position, I can start making Chris the hero of his journey, beginning with the distressful situation.
Taking from past experiences helping clients in similar situations, I knew I could relate them to Chris’ situation, and use them to help him. With some additional skills, I started being able to help him build his Dream.
Then I went on, recalling a previous client’s story. Marzia had problems with a lack of presenting skills in her salespeople, so we solved it by creating a simple framework for them to follow. We taught them to have conversations instead of presenting and then gave them a TODO list of things to keep in mind before and during the meeting. In that particular case, we opted for a quick solution and to create a framework, instead of giving full training on presenting and soft-skills to her team.
That story took care of showing Chris’ first steps to the making of his Dream.
I also told him that most of my clients who present remotely had the same problem as he did. Most screen-sharing tools out there are too complex to use for the first time. Since his prospects used it for the very first meeting with prospects and had issues most of the time, that would abort the meeting, or at least briefly but so, take the focus out of it.
I figured the solution was to use a tool that meant zero effort for the prospect, and if possible, also avoided the need to juggle different tools at the same time, such as a screen-sharing tool plus PowerPoint combo from the pits of darkness itself.
Luckily, many applications could help him, and due to my expertise, I recommended Prezi. Prezi (disclaimer: I am a certified Prezi Expert) would be later mentioned again as an integral part of my proposed solution to him. I let him know that he was using the wrong tools for the job, so if he had the correct ones and proper knowledge to make them thrive, his solution would be widely recognized at the corporation.
My point was backed by the story of a friend of mine who was hindered by a tool that was inadequate for the job, but the company refused to update. So she afforded a trial by herself and showed everybody how much revenue the company was losing. This was the first step for her to become their current CRO.
To build his Dream, I had to tie all the different stories that Chris and I have told each other and put them together in a way that helps him commit emotionally to that proposed reality. However, there was still room for a few more questions that would help me understand what was at stake for Chris.
Well, if Chris failed, he would lose his job. If he succeeded, he would keep his job and earn more commissions. Was that it? Or was that it?
I got a hint of how Chris was invested emotionally on this project when he belatedly expressed that he wanted to “show them wrong.” What could happen if I pulled that thread a little more? I wondered.
After some questions, the real story was revealed. When Chris applied for an internal promotion, someone else did the same, and the other candidate got the job. However, Chris felt strongly about their qualifications and thought that who made the decision made a mistake. The emotional knot is that Chris felt rejected and not appropriately valued in the organization. That was the final piece I needed.
By putting all these pieces together in a coherent narrative and verbalizing it back to Chris, I got to use his own stories to create a strong feeling about the current moment and then move that emotional weight to a sense of relief, success and resolution by telling the story that will be (or that was starting to become).
Sure enough, his Dream started to crystallize in a matter of days, as the results of us both Walking his Story and Building his Dream became visible to the naked eye in concrete, positive outcomes from his team and the spike in his professional recognition.
Give it a Try
Now, take a while to think of previous contacts you had with stakeholders or prospects. Choose one and have this framework applied to it. Was your prospect indeed the Hero of the Story? What was the conflict they faced, and what did you learn from the first conversation with them? Did you Walk the Story with them and helped them Build their Dream? If not, what was missing on your part as a presenter?
This article was originally published on LinkedIn on November 20, 2019.