Doug Landis, Growth Partner at Emergence Capital was formerly the Chief Storyteller at Box. Before being the Chief Storyteller at Box, Doug was an executive in the Sales Productivity group at Salesforce.
In this episode of Selling the Cloud, we dive deep into how storytelling has become a critical skill for enterprise-class, B2B sales professionals.
One of Doug's early learnings came directly from paying his dues initially as a quota-carrying sales professional at Oracle. Over those early years, Doug discovered his passion for helping others and sharing the secrets that made him successful as an individual sales contributor with his colleagues, thus the move to sales enablement/productivity at Salesforce.
The journey to becoming the "Chief Storyteller" at Box started with the hiring of a new SVP Sales. As the new executive interviewed sales reps across the company, he quickly identified that Box did not have one common message that they were communicating to the market.
This inconsistently led to the new SVP Sales challenging Doug with the task to replicate and scale his ability to communicate consistently through storytelling to the entire sales organization. One of the key areas Doug first identified was that most customer stories were very "rote", and needed to become more interesting to the target buyer(s).
First, Doug engaged Customer Success to capture the Voice of the Customer, and start the journey to train the sales force how to storytelling by focusing on the customer and their experiences and stories. Secondly, the story could not be the same story that the founder and CEO of Box told, because that was his own story and did not easily translate to being told by Account Executives.
Storytelling is not just for natural storytellers, it can be learned by listening to your environment. But it does take thoughtful practice and needs to be tailored to a relevant story, that resonates with the individual buyer(s) needs.
Improv was highlighted as an interesting format to learn how to put yourself in the persona of the person you are speaking with and make your storytelling more impactful.
Storytelling helps one to learn how to transition from one part of the story to the next. This skill is highly relevant to how a B2B Sales professional can learn to enhance the transition from one slide to the next in their sales presentation or demo.
The discussion evolved into "Getting to WOW" and why storytelling is so relevant to founders and CEOs pitching to investors. A common theme for B2B Sales professionals and founders pitching to investors is about getting to the "why" you or your company are uniquely positioned to help the recipient of the story.
Finally, we discussed the benefit of establishing a "Story Library" by stage, by buyer persona, and even the creation of a "storytelling" coach role in the sales enablement function.
Stories should focus on telling stories that relate to individuals by telling the story about how your solution impacted people (buyer personas) not companies.
In today's extremely noisy and saturated B2B SaaS and Cloud market, making your solution and value stand above all others is critical. Storytelling may just be the best way to differentiate yourself and your solution.