A couple of weeks ago I had a twenty-year reunion with my old team from BlueGill Technologies. In 1996, BlueGill was formed and by 1999, Checkfree acquired us for $250M. Over the course of those few frantic years, there were a lot of wins, a few losses, and the making of a number of legendary sales stories.
That night of the reunion, we sat around our former CEO, Hal Davis’ living room, laughing and reminiscing about those days gone by and those –often quite laughable – sales stories. Carla closing that deal between birthing contractions at the hospital. Colin hiding from the cab driver up in a tree. Chuck having his underwear sent home in a FedEx box. They all start the same way: “Remember that time when…”
Sales stories are like hunting yarns around the campfire. They communicate not only the facts of a certain event, but also the culture of an organization and what makes it great. Capturing those sales stories is necessary to train best practices to the newbies but it also serves to perpetuate a culture of success throughout an organization.
To capture your culture’s sales stories, you want to do the following:
1. Gather the sales leaders together and put them in a comfortable setting. Drinking isn’t required but a casual tone will help. Break rooms and offsite meetings are where and when the real stories get shared.
2. Prime them with a few stories of your own – ask for help remembering the details and watch as the stories unfold, one after another
3. Film the storytellers – have the camera handy and the person designated to film ready to shoot once the thing gets started. Don’t make a fuss with the camera or expect people to talk into it, just film them speaking and make it part of the fun.
4. Keep them focused with a few well-timed questions. Once the main thrust of the story is told; follow up with a few questions about the Who, the What, and the Why of the sale to make sure the details are included. You’ll bust up the flow if you interrupt too soon but afterwards you’ll want to have those little details.
5. Name them – like an episode of Friends, a good story has a name like “The One With the Leather Pants” and it can be used when needed to explain, train, or reinforce an idea.
6. Share them. Sales stories are like jokes, you can’t seem to remember all of them until someone shares one, and then they just come pouring out. Use a company intranet, a training tool like PlaybookBuilder, or your own YouTube channel to get them to the rest of the team and more stories will start flowing in.
Your sales stories are some of your tribe’s most basic core elements. They bind you around a common thread, around a common cause, and are the glue to keep you connected. Capture and share them and see how legends are made. By the way, did I ever tell you how I got the name, The Carpet Bomber? Ask me and I’ll tell you the story.