For those of you who have made it
through the latest, 12th and “final” Serial podcast, you may have come
away with a sense of feeling incomplete – like leaving the 12 course
meal still hungry. While no one can dispute Serial’s amazing, record
setting run for a podcast that rocketed up our media consciousness – it
did not crescendo to a dramatic conclusion – nor did it ever promise to.
As I thought about the arc of the story from episode to episode, I
found myself equating some of Serial’s storytelling to many sales
presentations I’ve both given and witnessed, and assembled some DO’s and
DONT’s in our own sales storytelling.

DO research and source well. No one can question
host and lead producer’s Sarah Hoenig’s commitment to finding credible
and trustworthy sources. It makes the listener believe what she’s
reporting. Similarly, your sales claims and facts need to have trusted
and known industry sources, as opposed to opinion or “common beliefs”.

DO be clear and sequential in your presentation.
Each of Serial’s episodes took the listener through a storyline, even
though saddled with complicated issues of cell phone tower call records,
incomplete and conflicting witness accounts of locations or activities,
and law enforcement and legal system bureaucracies. Your sales calls
should strive for clarity, even with complex topics. Lead your audience
through and reinforce where necessary on critical passages.

DO pre empt objections. Ms. Hoenig used an effective
phrase repeatedly in her podcasts by saying “I know what you’re
thinking….”, and then went on to express exactly the mindset of many
of her listeners at that moment. She was already in their heads.
Similarly, your customers are likely to question your claims or
statements at some presentation points, so take back the control and pre
empt these concerns by offering your responses to their not-yet-asked
question or doubt. This not only strengthens the value of your sales
claim, but lets your audience know you’re well prepared and understand
their perspective.

DO take your story seriously, but not yourself.
Despite the gravity of Ms. Hoenig’s subject, she was often self effacing
– making humorous confessionals, or poking fun at her more maddening
moments of sorting out the myriad of testimonials and courtroom text.
The selling lesson is let your customers see your human side – and don’t
be afraid to offer a little humor into big claims or heavy subject
matter.

And finally:

DON’T conclude your presentation leaving your
customer wishing it had a better ending. I don’t fault Ms. Hoenig for an
ending that left many listeners wishing for more…more resolution,
more completion, more justification. She was at the mercy of murky
evidence, a flawed legal system and the fading memories of fifteen year
old testimonials. Our sales stories on the other hand are free to be
crafted by us, to our liking. We can punctuate our key points, and
crescendo our story to the high note we seek. It’s OK to leave your
audience hungry for more. Just make sure they’re not unfulfilled.