The Common Language of Sales and Marketing? Storytelling.

Sales and Marketing together like PB&J

Ah, sales and marketing. They go together like peas and carrots. Macaroni and cheese. Peanut butter and jelly. First, the talented marketers gather clever insights, data, and case studies to create the ultimate narrative. They serve it up to sales, who will in turn, deliver this visually striking “Holy Grail” of customer solutions. It all seems great until… the sales person must adapt the deck for his or her specific customer. They realize the narrative is too broad. Too general. It’s not built specifically for their vertical or their client. 

The fact is, marketing can’t build custom narratives for every sales pitch. They create decks for entire vertical markets like food and beverage, automotive, or financial services. Sales, on the other hand, must focus on the needs of individual companies--which vary widely within each vertical. So how can sales and marketing work together quickly, to adapt those beautiful presentations for each target? It all begins with collaboration around a well-constructed, easy-to-edit, storytelling framework. 

Marketers develop broad narratives. Sales customizes them (Not easy)

First, it’s helpful to see what’s on everyone’s plate. It’s the marketers’ job to inspire the sales team. They are the main source of stories, data, facts, and insights for the salesforce. And it’s a tough job. Since they don’t know the specific prospect they’re preparing presentations for, they must keep the narratives broad. Sales are left to navigate, edit and customize this generic narrative. For example, the “Food and Beverage” vertical could mean anything from KFC to Morton’s Steakhouse. Both are restaurant chains, but are their procurement needs the same? Should they be getting the same sales pitch? Obviously not. Sales must either do radical transformation for each target or give them a pitch that doesn’t connect well with the customer. Guess which one happens all too often? They default to the broad pitch, missing an opportunity to truly connect with their customer or prospect.

A story framework and a common language for storytelling

1. Easy customization

If marketers and sales teams have signed onto a common story framework, then customization of each deck is easy. Salespeople can adapt it for different prospects, product lines, and markets by simply switching out content in the appropriate sections. Story frameworks offer the ability to easily “mix and match” a character, setting, case study, testimonial, etc. This saves people tons of time customizing one-size-fits-all narratives. Some sales and marketing organizations have vast “grab-and-go” libraries that give huge customization options for many vertical markets.

2. Intuitive Slide Placement

Whether it comes from sales, marketing, or upper management, sometimes you need that “one” slide to make it into the deck. But where should it go? Use of a story framework helps determine this easily because everyone has a mutual understanding that the narrative is a story. New material should fall within the framework as part of the setting, characters, conflict, or resolution. This makes it much more obvious where to place slides, how to edit titles, and how to link each slide headline to the one before and the one after.

3. Building a strong connection with customers

Ultimately, there is an even more important reason to build a common language: the customer. You know, those people sitting across the table (hopefully) listening to you? Weaving facts and data into a story creates a much more memorable, effective presentation. Stories are relatable, create emotion, and as great presenters know, are much more likely to get a prospect to act. Want to consistently create great stories that build a connection with customers? Use a story framework.

Storytelling: A Language Both Sales and Marketing Should Speak

Classic storytelling techniques used in conjunction with a business storytelling framework make a huge difference in how sales and marketing collaborate. This powerful common language helps marketing provide material rich in research, analysis, and insight that can easily be adapted for specific targets. Sales teams can pull together a relevant presentation, and own the story that they want to tell. This is only possible because both sides can clearly see where all the story elements fit in to the story arc. And at the end of the day, better collaboration between sales and marketing will help create a much more powerful connection with the customer.

The Presentation Company’s best-selling workshop, Crafting Strategic Visual Stories, is the first of its kind to introduce the Visual Story Planner™, a storytelling framework that offers the ultimate collaborative framework for marketing and sales to work together.

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