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The Power of Storytelling: What Sales Can Teach Marketing About Telling the Perfect Tale (or Vice Versa)

August 18, 2014 | Justin Gray | No Comments |

A few months ago, Shauna wrote about the legendary (and stupid) divide between sales and marketing and how the two departments can put on their big-kid pants to work together. Since it’s been a few months, I’m going to approach this post assuming that your sales and marketing teams have embraced each other with open arms and a stunningly harmonious rendition of “Kumbaya.”

Along with “content,” “storytelling” is the newest buzzword in marketing. (Tangent—can someone come up with a new word for “buzzword” please? So overused. Anyway…) Storytelling is more than just problem/solution case studies with some nicely formatted bullet points. It’s about putting life into your brand in a way that transcends it as a product or service and turns it into something to experience, rather than just something to buy.

What all these highfalutin people fawning over storytelling now neglect to remember is that storytelling has always been a part of good branding. And what marketers tend to forget is that storytelling is not the exclusive domain of marketing. Your sales team tells stories every day to existing and potential customers. Not case studies. Real stories about real people they’ve worked with.

And now that you love your fellow salesperson thanks to Shauna, you’re totally comfortable getting schooled on storytelling from them, right?

Get personal. For once, I’m not talking about segmentation. I’m talking about getting some of those real, authentic stories from your sales team and using those to stir up an emotional connection to your brand. Case studies are great at certain points in the funnel, but sometimes you just need to tell a story instead of present results.

Be personable. Salespeople pretty much get to be themselves. Earnest, boisterous, humorous—as long as they aren’t crazy, they can just be. Make sure not to totally lose personality in marketing content. Yes, stick to brand standards. But for more open content like blogs or webinars or social media, you don’t need to be all business all the time. Heck, invite your salespeople to bring their personalities into guest content.

Ask. Salespeople will tell you that the people they talk to just want to be heard and understood. Remember this with your storytelling—sometimes it’s less about telling your story and more about listening to someone else’s. Try making a push to collect customers’ stories, then use them in another campaign (with permission, of course).  Incentivizing customers to participate will require you to disclose the reward in your marketing, but incentivizing sales to share stories is free. Leverage the competitive nature of your sales team and create a contest to collect stories. Of course, you probably don’t want stories flooding your inbox, so be sure you have a system, like Kapost, to manage all of the submitted stories and prioritize the content creation for the best ones!

There you have it – now you’ll know how to spin yarns with the best of them. Tell the right story to the right person at the right time and watch your brand come to life more vividly and powerfully than any case study.

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