Storytelling is one of the most effective ways to engage your staff for sales success—if not the most effective way. In our recent webinar, Criteria for Success (CFS) partnered with Narativ to provide leaders with unique, storytelling strategies that capture and share essential ingredients of their company’s secret sauce, all with the goal of helping them achieve long-term sales success.
When we think about sales, the ideas usually swirl around how to improve conversations with customers and prospects, and we often forget that so much of what sets a company up for sales success in the first place is internal knowledge. For example, what has the team learned over the years about talking to a specific audience? Which product traits resonate most when you’re upselling? Why does Joe always call Client X on the last Tuesday of the month?
When a top performer leaves an organization, they normally take their expertise with them. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Through the power of story, you can make sure you get the “secret sauce” from every top performer (whether that’s an individual, a department, or a branch) so you can build an evolving legacy of success.
This is exactly what Jerome Deroy, the CEO of Narativ, along with Charles Bernard and Elizabeth Frederick of CFS, tackled in the recent webinar that we’re recapping for you here today. Let’s dive into what they taught on how to effectively tell stories to pass on company knowledge and job experience for sales success and enable and encourage knowledge transfer in the context of business.
In the webinar course, Jerome, Charles, and Elizabeth called out that the middle portion of your story—the part between the beginning and the resolution—is where the distillation of your company’s secret sauce lives. This is where the knowledge is transferred.
In this transfer of knowledge, there are two main parties involved, two agents:
- The knowledge keeper (a person holding knowledge, with the experience)
- The knowledge seeker (a person seeking knowledge, insights, or advice)
Elizabeth taught: “Something to keep in mind is that we’re all knowledge keepers and knowledge seekers. There’s knowledge that you have, that you could be sharing, and there’s knowledge that you’re seeking.”
Ok, but why is this important? Why should we pay attention to knowledge transfer?
In business, without effective knowledge transfer, a company loses efficiency. Elizabeth gives the example of a business opening another branch: getting that branch up and running will take significantly longer if there is no knowledge transfer from one established, successful branch to the new one.
But this is just one example. Whether it’s between company branches, business leaders, or employee peers, knowledge transfer is the best way to solve problems, learn from the experience of others, and secure sales success.
Additionally, knowledge transfer is conducive to innovation within the organization. As employees share stories, experiences, and knowledge, ideas will flow and grow to create better ways of doing things.
“Distilling” It Down
“What happens when somebody shares knowledge and somebody hears knowledge?” Elizabeth asks. “They are going to receive parts of it, but that is going to be limited by what the knowledge keeper knows to share and what the knowledge seeker knows to look for.”
Sometimes a knowledge keeper doesn’t know what to share. And sometimes a knowledge seeker doesn’t know what to retain. This leads us to the third party in knowledge transfer: the distiller.
The distiller functions as a facilitator, and, without them, your story won’t have the impact it could. A distiller listens to the knowledge keeper to analyze and determine the most important information before relaying the most beneficial pieces to the knowledge seeker.
Whether the distiller is a separate third party or not, every knowledge transfer needs a distiller. And, both when you’re acting as a knowledge keeper and a knowledge seeker, you can act as a distiller to take full advantage of the knowledge and experience. All you need to do is listen and analyze.
At Narativ, we often guide our clients through this process. For instance, when we worked with a healthcare company’s call centers, we helped find, craft and share the stories that were representative of the company’s values and messages. This was instrumental in helping everyone communicate in a consistent manner.
One story from a customer service representative highlighted his company’s effectiveness at “listening to our clients, always” and “delivering a wow moment”. These attributes are positive but very abstract. However, when this representative told the story of how he listened and then shared his own experience to convince a customer to use a CPAP Machine for his diagnosed sleep apnea, it went viral within the organization. People recognized the values the company espoused, and they saw the importance of their role in a new light, which led to increased engagement and productivity. This story became one of many in a story library that the company made accessible to everyone for learning and knowledge transfer purposes.
Imagine if you had your own library of stories at your finger tips to use as inspiration in your preparation for a meeting with a key stakeholder, prospect or client!
The Knowledge Matrix
But how do you analyze? How do you determine what knowledge needs to be transferred?
Jerome explains that you’re basically saying: “Here’s why I do what I do and how I do what I do”—which is knowledge in the most foundational sense. He further breaks it down into these 4 parts:
- Knowing: What you know is something that is passed onto you. This knowledge comes from schooling, parents, culture, and anything that was taught to you in your past.
- Doing: Doing is part of a practice. It’s some habit or action that you perform repeatedly and consistently.
- Being: Being is one of the most important aspects of knowledge, but it may seem intangible. Being is just who you are. Telling stories about your life all adds up to being and, ultimately, it demonstrates how you show up in the world.
- Experience: Experience is what has happened in your life. It’s problems, solutions, and events. Experience is often considered one of the most valued characteristics (every job posting asks for so many years of experience), but experience is only a small part of knowledge when combined with knowing, doing, and being.
How To Start The Conversation
It can be overwhelming to think of all the knowledge transferring you need to do within your company, and, if it’s never been a priority, it may seem complicated to start. But the biggest changes start small. Charles, Elizabeth, and Jerome ended the webinar by giving us 3 simple ways to start the conversation of storytelling and distilling your company’s secret sauce:
- Everybody can be a knowledge seeker.“When we are working with leaders, one of the things I say is that ‘your number one priority as a leader is knowledge transfer in the organization.’” Charles remarked. “However, you’re not the one transferring the knowledge, ideally. What we’re really asking people to do is encourage peer transfer, which means that everyone can be a knowledge seeker and a knowledge giver.”
- Be engaged and practice active listening. Distillation is done by the seeker. When you are engaged in the storytelling process, in the knowledge transfer, you can analyze in your active listening. This is vital to retaining the most important information that will help you in whatever knowledge you may be seeking
- Begin with the end in mind. Jerome shared with us at the beginning of the webinar that you need to ask yourself: “Why do I need to tell a story and why now?” When you prepare to tell your story, or distill your company’s secret sauce, you create the context based on your needs. Start with purpose, and understand why you’re telling your story.
No matter where you’re starting in your organization’s efforts to ensure sales success through successful knowledge transfer, storytelling is a vital tool. Everyone has a story, and when you learn to use story the right way it makes it easy to distill down and effectively communicate your company’s secret sauce for long-term success. Watch the full webinar on-demand here.