The Power of Social Selling (+ 7 Rules for Storytelling in Sales)

More and more people are avoiding sales communications.

With their email inboxes and cell phones, they can block any sales messages. This means that the open rates for emails are dropping.

This makes me nervous, too. I’m not sure if this is the right way to go.

The question is, what are the best strategies for increasing diversity in the social story selling system?

What should we do about it?

I believe that the answer to this question can be found by looking at what is driving the decrease in sales development conversations. Automation and saturation are two of those things.

I was able to automate my email blasts and spoof the area code with the software I had. It made it very easy.

The problem is, buyers know that we’re trying to diversify the market and they’ve responded by upping their game. We need to do the same thing as well.

With all the advancements in automation, we need to ask what can’t it do yet?

Salespeople need skills that go beyond automation. They also need to engage with people on a human level.

In this article, we’re going to talk about why diversity is so important and how a diverse social story selling system can help you in sales.

As I talk about the future of this trend, and what you can do to stay ahead of it, we’ll also take a look at some actionable tips that will help you prepare for it.

In this article, we’ll cover a few topics.

  • Social selling & brand
  • The shift in storytelling has been a hot topic for many years.
  • How do we get there?
  • How can we move from a knowledge-led sales process to one that is more customer-, or story-driven?
  • What are your thoughts on how to create more diversity in the workplace?

Making Your Own Branding and Social Selling

In order to overcome the challenges we’re experiencing, branding is key. Every salesperson must have their social selling playbook.

I mean content. I mean perspective. I also think that it’s possible to educate people about social selling.

It doesn’t matter what you call it, but the end result is all about building a powerful and trustworthy brand.

Interruption-based prospecting is a great tactic, but it’s not the only one.

I’ve been running teams for years that set 1000+ appointments per year. Cold calling and cold emailing are not dead.

This is a way to make sure you stay relevant and increase your monthly revenue by 15-30%. It also helps prevent people from trying to block or stop you from getting into their inboxes.

You can’t automate the analysis of a white paper, or how it should be used.

Your social selling playbook requires a human touch.

The Shift on Perspective

SDRs are the last mile of branding. They’re there to help promote a company’s brand.

The high-power SDR is a marketer with quotas for sales leads instead of marketing qualified leads.

To take a page out of the Challenger Sale playbook, it’s crucial for an SDR to be able to reach their individual prospects in ways that simply cannot be done by automation or through marketing teams.

When you think about it, we’re always looking for people who can see problems and find solutions.

SDRs should be:

  • Defining their personal brand
  • having their own social selling playbook
  • Knowing the company’s brand is important.
  • Integrating the two
  • And it’s important to build a process that is based on this combination

If you’re a sophisticated sales leader, then you know that this is just common sense.

First, congratulations. Only 5% of sales teams are having their social selling playbook.

The second thing to do is read. Reading will help you understand how the brand-led SDR can successfully spread its core value proposition across your company.

How Will You Get There?

We need to rebuild the bridge with Marketing. We’ve been burning it for years.

One time, I had a team that didn’t like Marketing. They told me to disguise the proposal as an outsourced sales proposal so they could get it approved without going through Marketing.

Fighting doesn’t help anyone, we should work together.

I think the future of SDRs is to be trained by marketing and sales, which would happen regardless if they report into those departments.

Marketing and salespeople are usually terrible at both marketing and selling, but they can do a lot of good when in the role of “Sales Development”. Both Marketing team members and Salespeople have strong points that help them thrive in this position.

SDRs need to learn how to tell stories and write copy, skills that are very familiar for creative people.

I’m not talking about being able to write film scripts. I mean, that would be great but it’s not necessary.

I’m talking about changing the cold-calling language from features (X Y and Z) to stories that start with one customer I helped this past Summer.

I’m talking about the stories I share on LinkedIn.

I am a firm believer in social media and its ability to help companies recruit talent, which is why we use it so much at my company.

I’m talking about how you can personalize the emails your manager gave to make them sound more authentic.

How Can We Make the Transition to Story-Driven Sales Development?

Humans are wired for stories, not spreadsheets. And that hurts me to say because I love charts and graphs more than anything else in the world.

Educating prospects to help them picture themselves as the hero of their own journey. They are not customers, they are heroes.

Storytelling is an immensely helpful skill to have, and while I can’t capture it all here or in this article, there are some basic rules that every salesperson should live by. Here are just a few of the best tips for storytelling based on what top storytellers say.

7 Rules to Develop Your Social Story Selling System

Pixar’s 7 Rules of Storytelling are a good way to understand how you can apply these rules in your daily life as a salesperson.

1. You value a character’s attempt more than their success.

When you only talk about how your 2000% ROI customers breezed to a profit, it’s not convincing. It causes the prospect to be skeptical and their eyes glaze over while they’re at it.

Customers don’t want to buy a product that doesn’t solve their problem. Don’t make your company or its products the center of attention, but instead be an active participant in solving customers’ problems.

2. What’s enjoyable to write may not be what’s Fascinating to the Crowd.

Stop using the same marketing material without thinking about it. Stop talking about how much of a quota-crusher you are, and stop bragging that you’re always at the top tier of salespeople.

Unless your audience is other salespeople, they won’t be interested or find it interesting.

3. What does your character excel at and feel at ease with? Throw them the other way!

Here are some ways to make your prospect feel uncomfortable in a positive way:

Example #1: You sell martech that helps marketing and social media directors connect in-store purchases to Google Maps searches.

You can use stories to show how marketers have improved their skillset without just “winging it” and succeeded right away.

You’re not saying that everyone is desperate for your product. That’s unlikely, and prospects won’t believe you.

You sell IoT SaaS to CPG Marketing and Supply Chain executives.

The supply chain leaders started to see themselves as marketers and that led them into a deeper understanding of personalization, transparency, and corporate sustainability.

Help the people in your market understand how others like them can grow out of their comfort zones and take risks, and why they should too. And by the way, tell them what you do to help.

4. Consider the stories you enjoy. Determine why you enjoy them.

If you’re secretly hating the call scripts and templates that your company gives out, start looking elsewhere.

Article: When I first began hiring salespeople, I just assumed pay along with commissions and bonuses would be enough sales motivation.

What ads and brands do you like? What is it about them that draws your attention? I bet they’re following a lot of these rules, not just going around spitting out features and talking themselves up.

5. Give your characters Different Viewpoints. It’s tiresome to be passive and bendable.

If you take a stand and have an opinion that polarizes others, then I need to find out what your thoughts are. If it’s difficult for me to automate or use technology, then you will be worth more than somebody who doesn’t do anything but admin work.

Disagreement is an important part of the workplace.

It’s important to make your prospects feel something. They should be frustrated, angry or excited enough to take action.

6. What are the Consequences? Provide an incentive for the viewer to Support the character.

A Challenger Sale technique is to offer a product that solves a big problem and people don’t realize it.

Hopefully, I made you a little nervous about your long-term job success by reminding you of Gmail filtering and iPhone call blocking technology. That was my way of deepening your perspective on how big this problem is.

In order to sell, you have to show prospects how important the problem is.

Talk about other customers who were up against serious challenges, but still ended up looking like heroes because of the journey you helped them go through.

Your product is not the story’s protagonist, and you cannot make it so without changing the plot.

7. How would You Feel If You Are the Character? Sincerity establishes credibility.

The more I hated my sales outreach cadence, the less likely prospects were to want it as well. If you don’t know what you are selling or how your product has helped people in the past, then there is no way for a prospect to feel that from you.

When you’re pitching your product, make the prospect feel like they’ll go through both struggles and successes when they adopt it.

If you’re not sure about the parts of your story, then they won’t be believable. Your prospects will see through it and stop trusting you.

How Do We Immediately Implement This Among My Sales Team?

I’ve found some things you can do right away to make your workplace more inclusive.

1. Storytelling should be incorporated into your call scripts.

Collaborate with marketing to dig deeper into your customer stories, going beyond the data:

  • What was it like to feel that way?
  • The discomfort during the onboarding process led to relief after I found out that she would be a perfect fit.
  • What was the impact on you as their customer?

    Article: When I first began hiring salespeople, I just assumed pay along with commissions and bonuses would be enough sales motivation.

The next time you get an objection during your demo or cold call, tell a story in the format I gave you above for about 20-30 seconds. It will create a more emotional impact on them.

2. LinkedIn is a great place to share valuable content.

One of the most powerful things you can do is get a whole team on board with this brand-led social selling strategy. If everyone from AEs to VPs is telling their authentic story and being knowledgeable about what they’re talking about, then there’s no limit as to how much success we’ll have.

  • Buzz
  • Additional inbound lead flow
  • A higher win rate.

You’ll enjoy your time at work more when you’re in an environment that’s diverse.

If you don’t believe me, check what Drift has done with LinkedIn content. I also have a few examples of people who are excelling at this strategy and can help (Justin and Kevin from PatientPop, Amy Volas running Avenue Talent Partners).

When you think about the connections, engagements, and views that could come from all those new leads. You may be able to meet your quota easier.

3. If you must, make a point of standing out.

As a salesperson, I need to find my own North Star in the social story selling system and not try to copy the person in front of me.

The more similar your messaging and techniques are to other industries, the higher chance you have of being disrupted by innovative technology or offshored.

If you don’t have diversity in your social story selling system, it will affect your company’s success in the short term.

If you’re a sales or marketing leader, think about how to empower your team members so they can stand out too. You cannot really do it for them but as the leader, you should lead by example.

If you’re a founder or executive, you know how important it is to stand out with your company: You competed fiercely for investment funding and initial customers, so you understand the power of having a brand.

Closing Thoughts

Now you have another technique to use in your sales, and hopefully, it will help you with the process of social selling.

If you want to be successful, focus on telling your prospects about the benefits that they can get from your company and what it has to story selling system

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Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following: 

  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
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  • With the role of HR Manager
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Just to give you an idea. 😀  social story selling system

Editors Note:

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Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
Justin McGill is the Founder of LeadFuze - a lead generation platform that discovers new leads for you automatically. Get 25 leads free.