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What’s the Story Sales and Marketing?

Throughout history, cultures have celebrated the importance of stories and storytelling as a part of what defines them. For instance, among the ancient Celts of Ireland and Scotland, storytellers—or “seanchaithe”—used stories, poems, and songs to educate people about their histories and traditions.

Today, seanchaithe have been replaced by eBooks and streamed movies. Yet, our instinct to more readily consume and retain information communicated to us through stories remains the same. It’s not just true for entertainment. Business books, blogs, and speakers heavily rely on anecdotes to illustrate and reinforce points of view. Those anecdotes, in turn, are tweeted, reposted, forwarded, or recounted in meetings by members of their audiences.

To some degree, the enduring power of storytelling is a key driver behind the increasing reliance on content marketing. It cuts through the digital noise and reaches an ever more distracted buyer. However, generating valuable and interesting content on a consistent basis is a problem for many organizations. This challenge, in turn, has created a burgeoning industry of third-party content providers looking to meet that need.

But I have good news for you, marketers. There’s an extremely rich vein of content right within your organization today that’s just waiting to be mined. Consider this: You have most likely attended company sales meetings or kick-offs and spent some informal time with the salespeople. If so, you’ve observed what they enjoy doing most when coming together: storytelling. Yes, there’s nothing they like more than sharing tales of difficult situations turned into great wins, unexpected solutions formulated for customers, and other fascinating ways they’ve created value for buyers during a sales process. These stories contain valuable nuggets of wisdom that other customers and prospects could benefit from hearing about.

So reach for your digital recorder, schedule some one-on-one time with your company’s most successful salespeople, bring them their favorite beverage (likely a quadruple espresso), and get them telling customer success stories. Next, take these stories and, without losing the authentic voice, convert them into buyer-focused content. In other words, make sure that the target reader (the buyer) can see how a business issue they care about was solved or how an opportunity was uncovered. Again, and I must stress this, don’t convert an interesting anecdote or story into a rote case study. If you do, then you’re missing the point. Just ensure that the story is recast (if necessary) to be seen through the prism of the buyer. But most of all, let it continue to be a story.

Think about it: sales and marketing coming together to create valuable insights for buyers. Now that’s a story!


John Golden is author of Winning the Battle for Sales and Social Upheaval: How to Win @ Social Selling and founder and CEO of Focused Revenue Results Inc., which helps small, midmarket, and startup companies with strategy, marketing, and sales.

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