Stories Energize Sales Staff, Teach How-Tos

When outbound marketing was added to their list of responsibilities, anxiety began to build among the inside sales staff at a Seattle company. They knew how to handle inbound calls successfully, but just the thought of initiating “cold” calls made many of them shudder. The client asked me to lead a Corporate Storytelling session to teach the sales managers how to use stories to help prepare the telemarketing team for their new duties.

The sales department had been sharing success stories, but the focus had been on the dollar value of the top producer’s sales each month. The agent’s picture was featured in a special place on the office wall with the person’s total sales for the month prominently displayed.

What was missing was the key information that could help everyone be more successful: A description of HOW the top producer had achieved the most sales. What was that person doing that the others weren’t? How did s/he convert information from an “ordinary” customer inquiry to a sale? What, exactly, triggered the customer’s desire to “sign on the dotted line”?

In my training session with the sales managers, the focus was on developing stories they could share to calm their teams’ anxieties. The managers concentrated specifically on stories about the key techniques and habits that had enabled them to build stellar track records.

When the success stories in the sales department began including the HOW information, everyone became more engaged in the monthly competition, the entire sales staff learned new techniques from the monthly winners’ and the manager’s stories, and the inside sales team felt prepared for their new roles. Sales escalated, the “success story” feature was expanded to an entire wall outside the company cafeteria–and the entire organization was fired up.

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