The Sales Engagement Podcast
The Sales Engagement Podcast

Episode · 2 years ago

A Three-Part Framework to Build an Army of Storytellers w/ Beau Brooks

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Your team of salespeople should be nothing more than an army of storytellers because stories improve engagement. Any position on your team that entails major front-facing time with prospects should be able to speak clearly and deeply on your product using the power of story.

Beau Brooks doesn’t just want his sales team pitching a product to a prospect, he wants them to passionately share relatable stories of success from others who’ve said yes. As the VP of Sales at Formstack, Beau leads the team of people on the frontlines; the group that interacts with leaders in diverse industries, which can make relatable storytelling hard to keep up with.

He wants nothing more than for his team to be equipped to confidently share the value former customers have received from their product. This helps people understand why they’re even talking to you in the first place. As Beau says, it should be less about here’s what my product does and more about here’s how people are benefiting from my product.

Welcome to the sales engagement podcast,this podcast is brought to you by outreached at io the leading salesengagement platform, helping companies, sellers and customer success engagedwith buyers. Tan Customers in the modern sales era check out salesengagementcom for new episodes, resources in the book on salesengagement coming soon. Now, let's get into today's episode. He Everyone Jovan Nolo, here seniorcontent, managing editor at out reach and joining us today on the salesengagement podcast is bowbrooks VP sales at form stack. He its on the showtoday talk about t e importance of building an army of storytellers andhow that improves engagement in sales, but before we get to that, I'm going toCossan onover to bow to introduce himself tell us a little bit about hisbackground and a little bit more about formstack Boh, thanks for being on theshow today, Awesome Joe an I am excited to be here quick background on myself,IAS mentioned I leav the sales team and the customer experience team. Here atForsack, I spent the first Parto by career learning how to sell. I soldlong range werget medical transport flights. I've said that a million timesit's been about seven years of sales and hen transitioned over to about fiveyears running customer experience team. So I got to learn the back side of thesale as well and then have movdover in the last three to four years to run andkind of a combination, ofbouth sales and postale customer care teams. Soit's been a fun ride right now, at Formstag, farsack is a breakthroughtechnology that allows a non technical person to do a very technical thing. Soif you're ahead of sales you're in marketing operations, you need to beconstantly capturing data from prospective customers or currentcustomers ar employees, and you don't want to be independent. On DevelopmentTeam O go fuill that for Empoye Se, we allow a very dragon drop software. Wecan go build out. Those forms to capture dad in real time, be verynimble and then route that data through workflows or cintegrations into variousproducts. Super Asy, it's a fun product that we love working with all differentkinds of customers and it sounds like throughout your career. You've beenfront and center with all types customers from from before the salesall the way through the sale. Tell me about the importance of being astoryteller. I mean you, don't have to convince me, we'll just trow it outthere. Now I come from Atel television journalism background a contentmarketer. I love telling a good story, but tell me about your perspective on thisfo and why it's important that yourslsellers are good, storytellerssure I know you're a big fan I this is such an important topic in the salesarea as it spans from th. The very brand new person sails all the way, thevery experienced person, but it kind of make me goes back to right when Istarted a formstack, a lot of people when they hear about forsic. They thinkwhy is ther a company that even does this? Don't development staff atorganization just go build forms for the group and I got to quickly learnwow. There are so many different ways that companies use this product. I needto make sure I can talk about these things and understand them, and notonly me, but I realize you T. I've got this group of salespeople that aretalking to customers every day in healthcare and government in tech ineducation, and they need to be able to talk deeply to go to the place wherethe customer Lilios, rather than tell a hypof story. So we talked on the loftytask of building out. I love the term an army of storytellers, because that'sreally what we are when my sales team is out in the world talking thecustomers, I want them to be able to tell relaidable ways that people areusing the prodect, and I think this goes across any product. Even if youhave a highly specialized type software or type of service. That is very Nich.You want to be able to tell the value of what people are getting out of it,because that helps people to understand. Why they're, even talking to you in thefirst place, it's less about here's, what my product does versus here's, howpeople are finding the benefit of my...

...product and yeah? I totally agree withthat n coming from a Deras, an background when I would write a story:You'd have to kind of appeal to the broader public right. You have to makesure that everyone can relate. How do you do that when your sales person ispotentially talking to, like you, said someone in the medical field or someonein tech or someone in a variety of different industries? How do you makethat person proficient storyteller when they're talking to so many differenttypes of people? Sure I think framework is extremely important and it doesn'thave to be complex if you're writing a novel you're going to list out the toframework chapter my chapter of what you want to accompish o the book. Wedon't need to get to that detail, but I took the approach of building out offramework for the team that has three simple pillars to it. First being whatis the challenge that the organization in the example that you're, given thestorty your telling? What is the challenge that that organization facedthe second piece SAS? How do they go about solving that challenge? Theactual execution of it and then the third piece which hopefully you have it,is what's the value that they've seen as a result of solving that problem.Those three simple pillars have allowed our team to think in a very structuredway about how we evaluate businesses and tell stories that cross the Gacaamaone of the other. So what no I'll tell this story? One of the other bigproblems that I see regularly an sales is we've got into this phase of usingsnippets. We have these simple stories that everybody knows about a keystonecustomer at formstack. One of them is, we C help Tiyetti save over eightyoutfors per months and eightyousand dollars a year development time byusing formstack. That's a good story right. Everybody knows he had.Everybody loves their coolers and their tumblers. It's an awesome product, butthe second that anybody askd. Oh that's great. How did they do that and salespeople often times were stuck because we've learned the line. We've learnedthe value prop, but the story behind that. So we built this habit built thismustle and I firmly believe telling stories is just like working out andgetting into shape it's a muscle that you constantly have to be flexing andpracticing, and now we can tell that story. Yet he had the problem ofwarranty claims coming into their organization, and the data was alwaysjumbled and passed around and things were not always resolting a timerefashion, so they use formstack to build a very clean intake process. Yougo to their website and see their warnts to be claim fore today, based onthe product that you select, that gets routed directly into the productmanager that owns t at and, as a result, they've been able to reallocate adeveloper for eighty hours a month to work on more mission, critical taskbecause they operatationawise this very challenging thing that o have in thepast. That's a much cleaner story that anybody can relate to that knows kindof a process like that. It's almost like a ticketting process, but when westarted probably fifteen months ago, that process was much uglier andoftentimes just we would be left with silence when somebody said. Oh really,how do you do that which can really weaken a story when you've gone througha great job of explaining what your product does sort of the value andmarket fit that you have but now being able to enunciate why COSOVA USIC? Wewere missing out on a ton of value, and I don't know if people werelistening carefully to the way you told that story you can once you know the template, you cansense when you're transitioning to each part of that story, so that that's partof the framework that you built out absolutely. We had the awesothechallenge, then of okay, we've got this GEV framework and we built out sort ofa structure in a schedule. Every day somebody had a responsibility to submita a usecase. We set up a slack channel where everybody in the company couldsee it and the cataloging then became a bit of a challente trick, because nowyou've got sort of the prisoners te Wema, it's not my day to do the usecase, somebody's going to do it. I might, I might miss it and thennobody's paying attention to this vast library of awesome information. So wefound a caltegorization method that worked. We would start to tag theproduct that was being discussed or the vertical that the story was coming from,and then we started to build this much cleaner library of use cases to where,as a salesperson. If I'm about to jump...

...into healthcare demonstration, I canquickly can pall up. This is how HCA is using the PRODEMT thies Sou Frannciscoalince is using the product and have that clean story right there thet for along time. That was a big challenge forces, but we're going to come up witha thousand use cases, but how we really gin to operationalize this within thearmy of sales, people that we have, and it's made it up a much cleaner processby structuring the data in a meaningful way. So it's not only about flexing thatmuscle and practicing telling stories, but also building out an easilyaccessible repository of these stories for your team to be able to accessquickly absolutely, and I would even tag onto that. One of the otherchallenging things it' sales is to create this sort of versibile mindset.Where you don't know the answer going in, I think coby said it best right,seek first to understand and then Bei understood. So as we as sales people gointo conversations, we want to ask questions. We want to listen and wewant to understand what their challenges are and then be able to findnot only a potential solution within our product tat works, but also tellstories that are more relevant to their situation. If I took that Yetti exampleand told that in every single sales conversation ofcause in it would beterrible, so we've built we've tried anyway to build an infrastructure wherethey can research ahead of time. Here's three or four different use caseswithin healthcare and then, as I'm talking to a prospect and really get tounderstand what their challenges are, I can start to do my best to tailor theexample that I'm going to give which is going to provide the most relevantinformation. The most relevant example, rather than having that one candiexample on healthcare, the one caned example- and it be much more versal andreally do with the service to our customers by actively listening andsharing information. That is, is appropriate at the time and you talk alittle bit about making the world smaller. Can you can you go into that?Absolutely? This is one of thethings. I love of the most about sales and it'skind of funny, but this goes back to conversation IHAD years ago with a fewof my sales reps and the question is really whether talking about theweather builds wru for, and I coan probably talk about this forever. Ithink it's one of those funny topics out there, but the concept really isthat talking about the whether we're I am yeah. That's not report billy.Nobody cares about that. But if I'm talking about the weather Joe, whereyou're at in San Franrancisco- and I I know that there was just a big stormthere or you guys are having the fires that are going on out there, somethinglike that and I can make the world smaller between the thousand miles thatare between you. I right now, that's really what matters so as I'm trying tobe a storyteller and build a relationship, I want to findcommonalities in the stories that I'm telling o a way that I'm interactedwith my customers often times that that is done through research right. So wetalked about this library of inforfmation that we have ahead of timegoing into a cal. I need to spend time learning about who you are whith school.You went to where what kind of work you've done in the past and rulesyou've had and try and find commonalities that can start to teardown some of the walls in the sales conversation we're in an age now whereprospects can come into a sales conversation with so much moreinformation than they've ever had and not have to rely on the salespeoplewith much so were a longer sale. PSYCO conversation in the past. You had timeto wreat down some of those walls. SOTHOSE people have fewer times thatfewer amount of time they've ever had to try and get to a point of trust witha customer. So the thing you mentioned making the world smaller, I think, is afantastic way using stories and- and we originally started talking about usingstories that relate to customer examples, but using stories that makethe world smaller even from a personal perspective, is a great approach toselling and it's find and common out. It finding ways to make it not feellike we're so far away, even though we're on video, even the fact that wehave with a camera on this, is a podcast. A lot of your listeners willprobably just hear it over audio, but some people see it over video andthere's a much better connection in the Abilityg to tow story, see facialreactions, the old, silly addage that...

...ninety firt percent of communication isnonverbal when you're telling a sort, if you're doing you over Vineo, you cansee much more in that interaction that that's another way, that you would thatweas sales people can make the world so much smaller through just personalinner interconnection, and this is all moving towards kind of systematizing.This process of storytelling, having the information, doing the research andand creating that that shared connection. How do you also inject allof this with authenticity? How do you make these these conversations? Real? It is a tough thing to tren. Let metell you the litness test that I often use with my team. When we're talkingabout a sales conversation there going to averseal's conversation, they didhave is put it in the light UF. But let's say we have holidays coming upand you're going to be at family, get together, as our friend get togetherssomebody's going to ask you what you do if your response he listen to. Oh,that's interesting, I'm Goan to go get another drink. You have not made theWorld Smile Righ, you've, not built that in that interpersonal relationship,where, if you can find a way where it comes across genuine and you reallyshare something that is that's interesting and then peaks somebody'sattention. That's where we ave sales people are starting to win and againit's all about listening. First, to understand who your audience is, but Ilove the other image that I've heard people use in the past when you, whenyou jump onto a call and you're talking to a prospect and there there's Somebon,engage ee, wo, Hin, colfor, some reason, but they're kind of sitting back intheir chair, and you can be genuine enough that you get them to leanforward and want to learn more and and hear more about what you're saying.That's our goal of sales people and just talking about your product isnever going to get you there, but there's also like we all have a friendlike this, but there's that person that they just like to talk about themselvesall the time that really doesn't work. And that's where, when you talk aboutthe genuine and aspect of it, you fall down in your conversations when theycan tell that you're. Just talking for the sicof talking or you're telling. Ifall of a sudden, I throw out some story about a customer like Yettie that had apoint where it doesn't make any sense and I'm just trying to be self serving.In that conversation, but this is, it is a it's really, a finess that wis weas sales people, no matter where you sit in the spectrum of your career, areconstantly having to practice and get better at because genuinthis is notsomething that you could fake and I'm a firm believer. I know I've repeatedthis a couple of times, but I'm a firm believer that you have to bee listeningand you have to understand who you're talking to in order to tell a genuinestory right and in order to make a connection. That's real! There's, a afantastic bookout right now by Chris Chris boss has called never spint thedifference, and one of the things that he talks about at length in the book isfinding ways to get people to do what you want them to do, because they wantto do it, and so much of that has to do with finess. It has to do withunderstanding who you're talking to reading their behavior and making themfeel comfortable in the environment, and that's another reason why I lovethis topic. I love telling stories is because it's a great way to make peopleif you can deliver it well, it can be genuine. You can make people feel socomfortable and then engage there's almost like a jazz aspect to it right,yeah, that's a great Wa, okay, so everyone is that's listening, I'm surethey're shaking their heads are nodding. Their heads saying: okay, this allmakes sense. This is great all right. Let's go back to that tetle that youtalked about in the beginning, the you know, situation the impact and the theresolution or, however, you laid it out. Can you go through that again, so thatpeople can can maybe replicate that in their own jobs? Sure, and I wouldprevicet when we thought about the structure. It has to be somethingthat's simple and that's easily remembered if thereare too many stepsto it the loose side of in the organization, so we set up three, thefirst one being the challenge of the organization faced and that generallytakes the framework of what you learned,...

...ont a discovery, call or sort of anearly phase. Are we a fit call wha? What do you know about the customer andwhate ore, the challenges that they saw, o the process and then how they solvethat problem, so that generally is associated with what they did with yourproduct, how they put it into place? What were the technical and also therelation aspect o the product and then the third one was: What were theresults? We we always want to show Tansbo, so it's Solos the rli impact.So you may not be able to answer that on every single CAS study that you putout there, Evis Soo usecase that you put out their story, but, to the extentyou can that's, whery were a lot of the value, comes deat, okay. I have aproblem simwor to that. I can see myself solving that problem and thenTheoiyt, I sure, would love to save half a head count this year and allowthem to repurpose somewhere else in order to make out a reality. So that'sthe structure that we've taken to make it a simple process. It's reallyinteresting that it has three parts. I mean it's like the the standardstructure of of a movie right. There's three acts. They three part essay. It's it's there's something about the threethat psychpsychologically clicks for human beings right. Is that somethingthat you've been seeing? I think it was' intentional, and it's becausethere's that natural flow, even even when I said the the example on a call Iknew I was over in the challenge and then automatically gong a what happenedas a result and then what the ifect was. It is that natual progression, I'mtrying to think whether we chose three on purpose or would that that's justsort of naturally, where our mind went because there's just the floads a lifeof that, but there's definitely a pattern that gets followed out of thosethings and it works tremendously. Yeah. I find that the structure of three whenthis is coming from and I took storytelling classes in college andinterpersonal communication and all these types of things that there's abalance to three o seen that there shouldn't be a balance tat. Three thereshoul be balned tofor to, but a list of three is just right. If there's for itstoo many points, if it's to there feels like there should be one more it's it'salmost that we're hard wired to have kind of the setup, the meat of thestory and the conclusion and you're tapping into that right now t toincrease engagement when you're talking to prospects and customers. I thinkit's fantastic one hundred percent and it's shown a tremendous amount ofsuccess within the team and, like I said it's really that muscle it was apractice endeavor that took six months really to get ingrained within theorganization. But it's now just a natural flow of what we do and forthose Yo that are listened, that interested in making something likethis happend. It really has to start at the top. There has to be dedicationfrom the leadership that we want to be an organization of storytellers, one ofthe most powerful things you can do and not even as a leader like you, don'tyou don't have to be a VVO sales to be a leader in the organization. Youl be eMener to be leaden. The organization is to be known for asking the Question: Ohreally, how are they using the product or Oh really? How are they working withus, because in sales in particular, we have a habit of celebrating a wim right?Hey we just closed this company and everybody celebrates or Hey. We justgot a dealan with this company, and everybody celebrates we're celebratingthe outcome. When really, we should focus on celebrating what the problemis, that we're potentially got SOLV so be that person in the organization thatanytime anybody has one of those celebration moments to say: That'sawesome. How are they using US and get the team in the habit for the first sixmonths, it'll drive you crazy and people will say. Oh I forgot or oh it'sI only know, there's a little bit, but it will evolve to where I know hony getask this questions, bu I'm going to find out, and they will tell thiselaborate story of exactly how the customers planning to use you, what thechallenges that they're having and how they see the impact on theoorganization. If you started up the top that way, and you make that anIngrane part of your culture, it will turn quickly and you will for me it'srewarding when I see people get called...

...out when they don't know the answerwhen somebody says ow with using US- and somebody doesn't know well you, Uknow you get in trouble but come on you, you made a big stake there that youdon't know. What's going O, how big of a part does a motion in yourstorytelling play a part and you talk about in our prevous conversations.You've talked about future pacing. The sale explain that a little bit and Ithink emotion plays a part of that right. Absolutely thank you forbringing that up. That's something, I'm very passionate about organizations.I've get caught up in this just product democycle. Future pacing is a conceptwhere you want as you're talking to a prospect, and you want them to live inthe environment that they will be in once. They've adopted your productinter seeing the benefits. So absolutely that emotion, kind of goesalong with the genuine nature of what you're talking about. But if you getjust visually excited about the story that you're telling you're going to have a tremendousimpact, I'd even Likin it to I have little kids, some of you, men havelittle kids, bbut, you've been little kids and people have told you storiesright. There is a big difference between somebody like kind of Monatl.Like imagine, Benstein reading a Barenctein bears versus the rockreading the Barensein bears. There is a tremendous difference, just even indelivery. F, The Passion comes through in Your Voice, and people want to be apart of that. If somebody is- and you take the context of somebody's got thistough challenge that they're facing in the organization that they need tosolve if they can hear the excitement and your voice around helping such assuch customer solve this problem and really making an impact in theirbusiness they're going to want to do business with you thit's one of thosethings where that genuineness really comes into it. So, in order to futurebase, you have to have relevant examples. I Jordan Belfort said it well,the original Wolf Wall stret some people think he's sort of a confroverfor paractor in the sales world, but he really talks about getting up prospectsto a ten out of ten in three areas. One of it is going to be the product thatcomes to the product demonstration one's going to bee the company thatcomes down to part of what you're talking about. They have to trust youas an organization. So when you can tell stories about how you'vesuccessfully done it that leads to that ten out of ten of trusting your companyand the third, arguably the most important sales is. They have to trustyou as a ten out of ten so being emotional, being enthusiastic, tellinggreat stories that we to not only our product works, and it's help thesecompanies, but ias a salesperson am so excited that I got to help them throughthat problem. Boy, there's no better way to future pace of sale than to havethat type of emotion and hen. When you get down to the more whether it's atepnical demonstration or a more deep product dive, you have that establishedreport and there's a new level of trust there, because they know you'repassionate about what you do. So when you talk to the product you're going tohave more credibility than the person that just is kind of monotoonor is kindof straight waste. It's one of those things, that's tough to teach but canbe practiced and can be earned. I think there's a sort of well known thingdeveloping in the sales world that introverts can be phenomenal salespeople some of the best public speakers. Some of the best leaders in the worldare actually introverts, but they know how to tell a good story. One of thethings that I share from time to time is idid e. You need opportunity when Iwas seventeen years old to meet Bill Clinton, sort of in a one on oneenvironment from conpers that I've gone to and talk about the impact of great stories and thatman was he was regardless o your Polotigal oratation was a phenomenalpopitician Goo to what he did, but he could tell stories all day. But I'lltell you the thing that I remember most about meeting him. I had wad a fiveminute conversation with him at his desk in the White House, and I had alist of questions that I was going to ask him when I walked in. I walked outof that not having asked one single question bcause. He asked me a ton ofquestions and I was so excited that I told him every day I told him my wifestore, told him what was going on in Colorado and I walked down said. Icannot believe that that just happened. I didn't ask a single question, but itwas because he was masterful at that...

...genuine nature that genuine interest inwhat I was doing and he could have he could have sold me anything because heunderstood where I was coming from. That's probably one of the bestexamples I've ever seen of being a great storyteller, but also combiningtha at with tyou ability on, listen and know your audience and what's going toReseve, wet an and I'm sure, HEU was able to convey like that. He was, likeyou said, genuinely interested that conviction in that passion for justhuman or interaction is contagious, and so for those who are just listening andnot watching this right. Now, I'm leaning in to e the camera right nowbecause boths been telling such a phenomenal story. So I mean this is anappervent example of what just being excited about what you're saying canget the other person excited on the other ED. It makes a huge difference.It makes a huge difference and then I mean I would say, there's there's thattime in this world. If you don't have that emotion, for what you're doing youprobably should think about, are you in the right place? Are you with thecomparyore in the right line of work, isthere'sthere's, not time for in thisworld, to do things that we're not excited about and chances? Are youprobably going to make more money throughout your career, doing some ofyour passion about, because it's going to come through and the way you talkabout the product and way you do things get excited? I get excited absolutely Bot if there was one thingthat the listeners should take away from this episode, what would that bebuild an army of storytelers? Do it through a structured approach but forceyour team through constant trial, constant asking questions and aframework of how we tell these stories to teach them how to be good at it. Ifyou're more experienced in your career, you're, probably naturally to hat itand that's why you've risen the people who are earlier in your career, takeaway some of these, like that structure, as Joe mentioned, there's somethingabout three find a framework that works for you, there's not one in yourorganization where you can start to build these things out, record them andthen Start Tho, cataloge them away and then, as you go about your day, even atwork when you're, not even maybe honest dales conversation or if you're inmarketing you're, not in anactive meeting. But you start to recall, youknow W. I thought about that that customer story that would fit reallygood ere and train your mind on that recall because you don't you don't wantto be prepared, you don't want to be wrote. YOU WANT TO BE AL to recalltesin a beautiful way, and I'm telling you if you can make you yourself or yourteam into a team of storytellers. Your product will take off because it willbe IU, will createa virality and a contagiousness behind what you're doingthat will be unstoppable Ey you Kdon't have to convince me. Everyone islistening, a listen, this man, he knows what he's talking about Bot people wantto get a hold of you learn more about. You learn more about formstuck. Howwould they do that? Absolutely website is porndackcom. Ifeel free to jump on and get a free trial. I'd want to hear about it. Ifyou do, you can find me at Bobau Dot Brooks at formstackcom great, pleaseconnect with me on Lindon as well. I love connecting with people in saleshaving conversations about what you do. My experiencehas been like, I'm alwaysin learn mode. So if po reach out, I hope that I'll get to learn somethingfrom you as well, and whe do reach out, tell Bo a story and then Yo'll Grad,you so yeu'll see if there's three parts andSav a word, do TURDE AL re turn the favor, hey everyone. If you're, like Yu, whatyou're hearing today please head on over to itunes and subscribe or head onover to sales engagementcom and subscribe there, and we also have aspecial gift for our listeners, our big conference or big sales engagement,converence on leash, is coming up. It's rapidly approaching it's in March, andwe want to give all of our listeners twenty percent off regular pricetickets. All you need to do is go to unleash dot out, reached Io and use thepromocode pod goals. That's pod go als all on word, pod goals, and that is it.You get twenty percent off four sexs going to be there too. We're excitedwho all right and Wso we'll see. Bowdown in Sunny SanDiego, we'll see all of you listening down in Sunny San Diego in March, whenthe rest of the country is using umbrellas and still shoveling out theredriveways, and I want to think Bo for...

...being a guest on the show today, and Iwant to Bhank all of our listeners for tuning in, and we will see you nexttime on the sales engagement podcast. Thank you. This was another episode ofthe Sales Engagement podcast join us at sales, engagementcom for new episodes,resources and the book on sales engagement coming soon to get the mostout of your sales engagement strategy, make sure to check out ow reach te Io.The leading sales engagement platform see you on the next episode.

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