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For our Special Episode of The Insiders Podcast, hosts Richard Lane and Simon Hazeldine had the pleasure of speaking to Graham Hawkins (Founder & CEO of SalesTribe).  

An expert in his field, Graham is also a keynote speaker in the world of digital and data-led selling. Graham shared his advice about using storytelling and sense-making as part of the sales process, why personal branding and content are crucial, and how to sell smarter to smarter buyers. 

Salespeople must be storytellers and sense-makers 

Graham reinforced the importance of storytelling when winning over buyers: 

“We need to learn to sell smarter in a world of smarter buyers with access to information. Our role is no longer the information giver, it’s the sense-maker.” 

The roles of salespeople have evolved. Buyers now have access to a plethora of information and tend to be at least 60-80% of their way through decision-making before reaching out to a salesperson.  

It then falls on the shoulders of salespeople to interpret data and pinpoint the ‘Gold Nugget’ – as Graham calls it – which is a piece of information unavailable to the buyer that you have to find and communicate to them in a coherent way.  

Graham states that the way to win over buyers in today’s competitive market is to care: 

You need to demonstrate to them that you know who they are, and be willing to personalise to their context. Teach them something, and if you can – anticipate their future needs as well. Don’t just solve their current ones.” 

Ultimately, it comes down to both sense-making and storytelling: if you are telling a buyer about how you have helped other businesses, you are telling a story. By creating a narrative that is relatable and easy to understand, you will cut through the noise.  

Listening is just as crucial as storytelling: ask open-ended questions so that you can identify any pain points that are burdening your prospect. At durhamlane, we put this into practice every day with Mantra #3: Be interested to be interesting. The more interested you are in your buyer, the more interested they will be in you as a result. 

Content will always be King   

Visibility equals more opportunity. In the episode, Graham explained how crucial building your personal brand is in order to stand out. As of June 2022, LinkedIn had 830 million users, and as Graham points out in the episode – buyers are now online.  By being visible, SalesTribe has acquired noteworthy enterprises such as PwC in the US and Lloyd’s Bank in the UK: 

“I started to put out content, but in parallel building my network. The more content I put out, the more opportunity I got to build my network. The bigger my network got, the more people saw the content, and the two started to take on a life of their own. Next thing, I start receiving inbound leads and inquiries from all around the world, simply because I knew visibility equals opportunity.” 

While content is king, Graham reiterates that you shouldn’t just post content for the sake of it; that content needs to be of quality. Ask yourself: Are you being genuine? Is your content inspiring and igniting conversation? 

Graham’s final takeaway message: “Anyone can push out posts, and anyone can get likes, followers and shares. The hard work lies in the constant relationship-building and nurturing.” 

Get in touch to see how durhamlane can help you overcome your sales challenges. To hear more thought leadership in Sales and Marketing and to hear Graham’s words of wisdom, listen to The Insiders podcast here. 

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