You’ve probably read or heard a good deal about storytelling in sales in the past couple of years, but one important thing to know: don’t start with storytelling in agency new business.

Just google storytelling in sales or some version of that and you will see countless articles/blog posts.

When it comes to new business, however, and it’s your first takeaway:

There’s a time and a place for storytelling in agency new business

and it’s not in your initial outreach.

As an example, I’ll pick on Salesforce because they’re huge and can crush me.

(I like Salesforce just fine by the way, please don’t crush me.)

So this is actually a guest post, Storytelling In Sales: Make Your Client the Hero, and it reads like a lot of the “storytelling in sales” posts that are out there.

Here’s a snippet, and I shortened it a bit: “Great salespeople understand . . .  they are entering a preexisting story as a supporting character who is there to help the hero — the client — achieve his or her goal.”

The post goes on to describe how they have a process containing 3 acts made up of a compelling opening, a clear build, and a powerful close.

You may be asking yourself what I find wrong with this?

Well, on its face, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this sales advice generally, in fact, it’s good sales advice, but I do have one big caveat.

This post and every other post I’ve read on storytelling in sales leaves out a very critical detail or better to say, first step, and it’s your second takeaway:

You have to actually break through to the prospect first.

All these articles need is a paragraph early on with some version of this: Storytelling can be a key component to your sales strategy, but you can’t employ it in your initial reach out.

You have precious and valuable real estate in that first contact, first email or call, and you also have prospects who are being emailed, called, trying to connect on LinkedIn, 10 or 15 times a day.

If you go in on the first reach out with Acts 1-3 (per the above example), you can forget ever getting in the door.

You’ve wasted your chance. That leads to your third takeaway:

The storytelling comes in the first actual meeting and/or your pitch, not your initial reach out.

And when you first reach out, keep it tight initially.

Include a distinct and specific elevator pitch, why it would be of value to speak with you /the team (a brief but targeted example of your specialization/unique value) and a call to action in some form.

And don’t let that initial messaging read like a robot wrote it, that is, completely impersonal, or have it read like an ad full of taglines or agency speak (we’re strategic, nimble, creative, etc.).

Every agency says that, and if you go down that route, now you’re skippable, as they say.

Storytelling is important, use it at the right time.

Thanks for watching 3 Takeaways.

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I'm the VP of Sales at RSW/US. We specialize in working with services firms to help drive and close new business-if you need help with that, email me at lee@rswus.com. What I actually do: drive sales efforts to bring ad agencies and services firms on board with RSW, create content around successful new business tactics and help drive RSW/US marketing objectives, including social media channels, blog content, webinars, video and speaking engagements. Dig it.