Driving A Sales Culture Through Storytelling

Not enough sales leaders publish stories from their top salespeople about how they won business.  Sure, the basic stats will be written up, perhaps in an email: product sold, contract value, key competitors, why the customer bought from their company, who else on the team contributed to winning the business, major sales obstacle or objection overcome.  That’s better than not communicating the win at all, but not by much.

When Mark Dorosz, whom I’ve know for a number of years, recently contacted me about his work with a major corporation around storytelling and sales culture development, he had my interest.  He’s the director at KnowledgeScreen.  Here is some of our conversation.

Dave Stein: Why are authentic sales stories so important to shaping sales culture?

Mark Dorosz: For years sales professionals have understood the value of storytelling in building client relationships but what we often forgot is how these same stories shape our own internal sales culture. Few dialogues generate more passion and commitment than a successful sales peer explaining how she closed a key deal, over a cup of coffee.

For businesses to grow—from on-boarding new sales reps to keeping the current ones continuously developing—we need to find a way to share these success stories across global sales organizations while retaining their unscripted authenticity.

DS: Tell me about when you had your “aha” moment with this mode of learning intervention?

MD: I have been fortunate enough to sit in on numerous sales training programs from luxury retailers to America’s largest financial advisory firms. While the class demographic, sales process, and products always changed, what struck me was how similar the learners’ aspirations were.  Beyond the role plays, product drills, and process training, the learners all wanted to hear from the company’s top sales performers, in their own words.

I realized if these formal sales training programs could be complemented by real life success stories from the field, their impact would be so much greater.

DS: So you started a business.  Nice.  Why does your approach work?

MD: We built a process for capturing sales stories that is quick, repeatable, and doesn’t compromise authenticity.

Our first principle is to build on the natural enthusiasm of an organization’s top sales talent to share their story. We do this by making sure every interviewee look great on camera and that they’re personally proud of their module before releasing it to the sales organization.

Secondly, we encourage the participant to share success in their own words taking as much time as they need, confident that any miscues (or cursing!) can be edited afterward as we compile the interview into 5-10 minutes of their most powerful insights.

Finally we make it easy for the training department to sponsor the initiative by delivering the finished story within five days as either an Articulate module, podcast, or web friendly video for about the same cost as a seat at a public sales training seminar.

DS: Any tips you could share with readers who are looking to try this approach on their own?

MD: Don’t be afraid of letting your top performers speak in their own words. These success stories complement, not replace, your formal sales training. If you give a global voice to your best sales talent that captures their passion and how they employ your team’s sales approach to win business, you’ll be amazed by the impact on your sales culture.

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  1. says

    Storytelling as a training material is great. I think that aspiring sales professionals would be better motivated if they can experience and feel the emotions of accomplishment and happiness that these successful people have.

    More sales related topics can be found at Sales Training Course. Drop by and share a thought.


  2. says

    Interesting post Dave. You really should get in touch with Mike Bosworth on topic of using stories to connect, inspire and influence buyers. Mike has some interesting research and has codified a methodology your readers and clients would be interested in.
    Go to this link to hear a 45 min webinar our company, the Vision Group sponsored featuring Mike.


  1. […] ES Research Group is a strong believer in management by numbers—after all, if it can’t be measured, it can be managed. One area where we think it’s all right to think outside the analytical box is connecting with customers through storytelling. I’ve written about that before here and here. […]