Friends in sales — ask your Product Manager for the story

Over the years as a B2B Product Manager, I have got to work with some amazing sales guys. One important way my interaction with them has evolved is that in the early days of my career as a Product Manager, whenever I was approached by a sales rep on what new was being cooked by the Product. My answer was very factual, full of engineering buzzwords, that made me feel good about myself. Sometimes that led to a sale(hopefully), sometimes it did not.
 One day, a good friend of mine in sales, on a regular Monday morning came to me with all the exuberance and excitement as he was planning to fly overseas later in the week to meet a potential client to pitch on our product and wanted to check with me on a feature, he probably got to know from someone in the executive team, and wanted to get more understanding of the same. In my usual way, I went on to blabber about the feature for the next 10 minutes, to which he was kind enough to listen to patiently, but at the end of it he said something to the effect of “It sounds all good and smart, but I am not selling shit with that……..I need a story”……….For the next 30 minutes, he helped me understand the importance of a good story and how people buy stories and not products.
 Over the years my belief in good stories has been reinforced via multiple sources but primarily by reading a book “Sapiens” — Whose Central Thesis is that Everything is a story — money is a story, corporation is a story, government is a story, we stop believing in the story tomorrow, it would seize to exist. So humans are storytelling monkeys, and this idea that we can unite each other by telling each other stories makes us the most powerful creature in the world.
 So these days when I interact with sales, I try to not just give them factual/buzzworthy explanation of the new feature rather a few pointers to help them build up their great stories that they can share with the client, and the results have been astonishing, I have had sales rep call me immediately after the end of an important client meeting that went well(before they are off to party) on how well the story that we worked on together resonated with the client and how can we iterate on it even further. The whole dynamics of your relationship with your sales rep changes and rather than a purely transactional one it becomes a very collaborative process.

How do you help your sales guys to tell better stories ? Would love to know about it in the comments.

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