every order sold

The session moderator closed the doors after the room had reached its standing room only capacity of two hundred forty. Such is a normal occurrence for popular conference sessions, but this one was different. This audience, consisting of professional B2B communicators, had flocked to hear a MarketingProfs B2B Forum session entitled: “From Storytelling to Story-selling: How to Tell a B2B Story that is “This American Life” Compelling.“

I smiled from ear-to-ear as Bobby Lehew mesmerized this B2B audience with the oral traditions of his Chickasaw and Choctaw Indian Nation heritage. He told stories that connected emotionally, removing any lingering doubts about storytelling and it’s power to connect. However, about halfway through the session, I sensed some audience anxiety, as attendees wrestled with the concept of connecting ancient lore with their B2B stories. And that’s when Bobby hit them with his $50,000 slide.

Every presentation has a $50,000 slide–the one that contains the takeaway of the day. Bobby’s slide, delivered with the timely precision of a master storyteller, said:

“Every order sold is a story waiting to be told.”

At least thirty cell phones were thrust into the air to photograph the slide. Others documented the phrase through their iPads, computers, and Moleskine notebooks.

Each marketer recognized the brilliance in the phrase. Purchase orders are a great place to look for stories. They contain names, addresses, telephone numbers and websites to research. They orient story seekers toward the who, what, where, when and why of customers who use their products every day. Some customers have good results. Others don’t. Some are learning, doing, and persevering–all which make up great story-stuff.

As a marketer, how many times have you looked through your company’s orders for story-starter ideas? When was the last time you accompanied a rep on a sales call? When was the last time you listened in on a customer service call?

Bobby Lehew reminded us of something that’s easy to forget. More B2B stories will be found through speaking with our customers than by speaking with each other.

Slide Credit: Bobby Lehew