We all have times when we need to reach someone. That’s true whether you’re an entrepreneur, salesperson, author, or job seeker. Of course, reaching them is only half the battle.
We measure the success of our outreach efforts by the responses they receive. And the ability to contact someone out of the blue and get a positive response takes time to master.
One way to improve your positive response rate is through better B2B storytelling. We talked to Jarie Bolander, author of Story-Driven Outreach, to find out how he turns leads into valuable connections.
The 7 Keys to Unlock the Power of Story
Stories are a fundamental way that humans communicate and connect with each other. But many salespeople and marketers ignore it.
“There is so much noise out there,” Jarie said. “There’s so much generic storytelling. Pedestrian stuff where people just rely on templates.”
Crafting a compelling narrative that resonates with your target audience takes time. But taking that time can create a sense of empathy and trust that can open the door to new opportunities.
Here are seven tips Jarie shared to improve your B2B storytelling.
Jarie said good B2B storytelling creates a narrative that connects with recipients on a personal level. To do that, he emphasized the need to tailor your outreach to your target audience.
That means doing your research. You have to understand what motivates the people you’re trying to reach. What are their needs? What are their interests?
Show them that you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested in their work. Then you can make a strong impression and increase your chances of success.
Another important aspect of Bolander’s approach is the use of sequences and follow-up. He stresses the need to be persistent but not pushy when reaching out to potential leads.
Use a well-crafted sequence of messages to build a relationship over time. That will increase the likelihood of a positive response.
Bolander also emphasized the importance of consistency. Follow up consistently, even if you don’t get a response right away. That way, you’re staying on the radar of your target audience. That increases the chances of catching their attention when the timing is right.
Start with the Basics
Automation is great, but Jarie recommends a cautious approach. Before you automate, it’s crucial to understand the fundamentals.
Storytelling is not about copying templates and inserting topics. It must be authentic and unique.
“The first step is to ask yourself, ‘What’s the Big Idea?” Jarie said. “What are you trying to communicate? Why does it matter? What pain are you solving? Why is your solution unique?
Get to the Point
Jarie also stressed that brevity is essential in cold outreach.
“We’re really good at sniffing out BS as humans,” he said. “How many cold emails have you gotten where the first sentence is ‘I know you’re busy, let’s cut to the chase.’ But then the email is a page long, copied from a template. If I get an email like that I’m going to hit delete.”
Jarie recommends a short, thoughtful, personalized message instead. It should focus on one thing. Your story.
Always Be Useful
B2B storytelling is unique in that it is more relational than transactional. B2B customers are often part of a buying committee. They usually do more research before making a purchase.
“Trust is built over time,” Jarie said, “and not everyone in your market is ready to buy.”
So Jarie recommends focusing on relationships instead of your end goal. His motto isn’t “Always Be Closing,” it’s “Always Be Useful.”
“Then they know who you are,” Jarie said. “So when you reach out in the future, you’re not just some rando.”
Regularly send out useful information. Be helpful to potential customers, even if they are not currently in the market to buy. By consistently providing value to your audience, you’ll establish trust and credibility
Basic Story Structure
To effectively tell a B2B story, Bolander suggests following a three-act structure.
The first part is the beginning hook. For the beginning hook, Jarie’s recommended an emotional appeal. That will capture the audience’s attention.
Do that by highlighting a pain point or problem that the customer is facing.
The second act is the middle build. This part focuses on the logical progression of solving the problem. It should include a step-by-step process or solution that the customer can follow.
The third act is the end resolution. This part should show the positive outcome of using the product or service.
Don’t Try to Do Everything at Once
You should know your brand story, but that doesn’t mean you tell the whole thing all at once.
“Brevity is your friend,” Jarie said. “You don’t want to vomit up all the details in the first touch point. That’s exhausting.”
Don’t try to do too much in one email. Just focus on providing value and moving the conversation forward.
The Best Story Wins
“The best story wins,” Jarie said.
So take the time to develop your story. Then, focus on being useful and building relationships with potential customers.
For more information on how you can improve your B2B storytelling, check out the Story-Driven website.