I had just landed the biggest project of my career. But instead of offering congratulations for the signing of this multimillion dollar contract, my boss called to berate me.

“You didn’t follow the process,” he said.

It wasn’t the first time that we disagreed on a deal. We had different ideas about selling professional services. He viewed it as a complicated algorithm that crunches on carefully worded PowerPoint presentations and deeply nested spreadsheets. I had always seen it as a simple conversation.

He liked the structure of the deal. It exceeded all of our business markers for size, daily rate, and margin. He just didn’t like the method by which it was attained.

His “Center of Excellence” (COE) team had spent an entire year building spreadsheets, creating obsequious PowerPoint presentations, and crafting boilerplate contracts for the explicit purpose of landing large deals like mine. Since I didn’t use any of the COE materials, he saw the deal as a potential source of embarrassment. How could he justify the work of the COE  if the quarter’s largest deal didn’t use anything from it?

“Which presentation did you use?” he asked, looking for any way to save face.


I could hear confused agitation in his voice. “Then how did you sell all of those services?”

“We just talked.”

“About what?”

“Their needs.”

“But how could you determine their needs? I never saw the Needs Analysis Spreadsheet.”

“I asked and the customer told me. It was pretty easy.”

He took a deep breath then exhaled. “Did you at least present any of the approved case studies?”

“No,” I said. “I just addressed his concerns with stories of how we handled similar situations with other clients.”

“And he was satisfied with that?” he asked, incredulously.

“Umm…well, obviously.”

We never did agree on the way to conduct business. My boss needed a robot manager to talk with robot customers. I was a storyteller who needed to speak with humans.

The StoryHow™ Method asks communicators to understand the business roles that people play, the events (situations) that they find themselves in, and the influences that are affecting their decisions. Understand all three, and you have a very good chance of telling stories that convince.