Consensus Selling to Story Architecture

Precision Storytelling

There is no longer a single decision maker for the purchase decisions of buying organizations. In fact, CEB/Gartner describes today's sales environment as Consensus Selling, as they discovered that on average, 5.4 people are involved in a typical B2B purchase decision. In this first Precision Storytelling episode, we explore why you should NOT create your story to educate the on average 5.4 people in an enterprise account using traditional methods such as building large text based documents. Instead consider first building a Story Architecture answering the questions why, what, how and who.

Today's B2B Consensus Selling

There is no longer a single decision maker for the purchase decisions of buying organizations. In fact, CEB/Gartner describes today's sales environment as Consensus Selling, as they discovered that on average, 5.4 people are involved in a typical B2B purchase decision.
These 5.4 people need to be educated on what you have to offer, and although they most likely come from a diverse set of functional areas, they are asking four fundamental questions:

  • Why should they not do what they're already doing today? In other words, why should they care about what you have to say?
  • What is it you do?
  • How does it work?
  • Who else uses it?

Unfortunately, scheduling meetings in an attempt to educate these 5.4 people can take many months, greatly prolonging the sales cycle and overall cost of sales.

Top Enterprise Sales People Teach

CEB/Gartner also researched what are the common characteristics for top enterprise sales people. The results are published in the book Challenger Sale.

CEB/Gartner discovered that a majority of the top enterprise sales people across industries educates their customers, en route to becoming trusted advisors. In essence, top enterprise sales people coach to their customers.

Today, We Build Our Story with Lots of Text and Slides

Today, how do we tend to package our story to educate our sales force, partners and the 5.4 people in our prospect accounts? Today, we tend to build content full of slides and text, such as:

  • 1-hour webinars, full of slides
  • 10-page white papers, full to text
  • 3-day sales trainings, really full of slides

Today’s Storytelling Results in Little Actual Education

The result is that very little education actually occurs, as people tend to tune out of one-hour meetings, don't read large pieces of text-based collateral, and cannot retain what is being presented using 100s of slides during a multi-day training event.

Process to Create Story Very Expensive and Time Consuming

In addition, building large text documents like whitepapers and huge slide decks can take weeks to months to create, making the whole process very expensive. As a result, the content tends to get out of date and is often not updated due to the high cost and effort required.

People Consuming Content on Mobile

A fundamental reason why content in the form of many slides and pages of text is not being consumed is that people are increasingly accessing content via their mobile devices. Try to read a 10-page white paper on an iPhone; it's close to impossible.

Professionals Too Busy to Read Large Documents

In addition, professionals are busy, and don’t have the time to invest in reading large documents built to educate them as to why they should buy someone’s product.

Professional Video Production Also Expensive and Time Consuming

An obvious answer is to tell your story through short videos, which are much easier to consume via a mobile device. However, if this is done by hiring a video production company, although the output can look very polished, this can prove to be very expensive and time consuming, often costing tens of thousands of dollars to create a single video, while also taking months to build.

Is there an answer?

Architect Your Story

When building any reasonably complex product, you first need an architecture. Therefore, when trying to tell the complex story explaining your complicated product, why not consider building a story architecture?

And given that 5.4 people in the buying organization are asking four fundamental questions —why they should not do what they are doing today, what you do, how it works, and who else uses it—why not architect your overall story accordingly?

Utilize Your Most Credible Storytellers to Tell Your Story

You also want to utilize your most credible storytellers to tell your story. In fact, there is no doubt at least one person inside or outside of your organization you'd most like in front of your customer explaining each part of your story. So why not utilize these credible people as your storytellers? Yes, they are probably extremely busy, but recording an answer to a question they are the best at answering (and quite frankly probably answer all the time) doesn't have to take long. The trick is to be organized to know which questions need to be answered and by whom—one output from a good Story Architecture.

Video Length Matters

And unless we're watching an interesting movie, our typical attention span for watching a video will probably be somewhere less than 8 minutes. Therefore, why not have your credible storytellers record their answers in roughly 8 minutes or less?

Build Precision Stories Utilizing Your Best Storytellers

Pulling it all together, we believe you should create your story architecture, organized around answering the why, what, how and who questions. And ask your most credible people to record themselves answering their assigned questions in less than eight minutes. We call these Precision Stories.

Precision Stories are

  • Short, consisting of recordings which are 8 minutes or less, making them quick to create and easy for a busy professionals to consume
  • Recordings, so they are easy to watch and listen to via mobile
  • Told by your credible people, so they are less expensive to create and of better quality because you’re assigning your best people to tell the different parts of your story
  • Modular, so any individual recording can be updated at any time, making sure the overall is kept up to date
  • Organized via your Story Architecture, answering the questions of why, what, how and who

Vince Vasquez, CEO Precision Story
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