Sales babble! - Pat Helmers & Mike Adams talk stories

Seven Stories Every Salesperson Must Tell with Mike Adams #251

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When it comes to story selling, author Mike Adams is the expert and our  honored guest. In this episode Mike shares 7 types of story you need to leverage when selling. Mike gives examples taken from his book “Seven Stories Every Salesperson Must Tell” . He recommends that you learn the types, create your own stories, memorized them and naturally apply to your business. 

Three Problems Sellers Face

If you’re new to an organization you probably don’t know a lot of stories. Here are three problems you will face AND seven stories you should learn before meeting a  prospective client.

  1. How do I connect with prospective buyers

    • Personal Story

    • Personal Story of another person in the company

    • How did your company find success (strategy and origin story)

  2. How do you get them to change course and buy you

    • Story that shares an Insight you have about their business (great for startups)

    • Success story of YOUR customer:

      1. scene before you met your them

      2. they have a problem

      3. then they met you

      4. you gave them a plan,

      5. avoid failure

      6. achieve success

  3. How to Close the deal

    • The value story, explain how your company leader will behave after the deal is made

    • The sales manager story – teaching the client can sell to their management with a story

By learning the seven stories every salespersons must tell, you will be prepared when meeting clients and able to repeat naturally the stories at the appropriate time. Your clients will relate to the stories and persuade them to buy.

Take Action

Build a story library and practice them.

How To Find Mike Adams

To find Mike on the internet and his book Seven Stories Every Salesperson Must Tell look at the following:


Twitter  @MikeAdamsSales



For a free how to blog post, discount, or a free product or service.

Our free online storytelling training course (links to the Seven Stories book)

Why Effective Leaders are Storytellers


Mike Adams article published in the Weekend Australian on the 10th Nov 2018

Effective leaders are not just good storytellers, they all use the same story plot!


Effective leaders take their followers on a journey to a promised future. By definition, that’s a story, because a story is journey — an unpredictable sequence of events. If you understand the leader’s storyline you can be an effective leader too.

The 2017 Gallup poll, The State of the Global Workplace, found that globally, only 15% of employees that work full-time for an employer are actively engaged in their work. Australia and New Zealand performed under the global average (14%), far behind the USA and Canada (31%). 

The benefits of higher engagement are laid out in the same survey. Upper quartile companies enjoy many benefits including 17% higher productivity. Furthermore, 70% of the variance in engagement is due to management. Specifically — failure to inspire engagement.

What makes an effective leader?

The blog-o-sphere is awash with opinion. Business magazines routinely propose the top 5, 7, 10, 15 attributes of effective leadership. You can discount most of this opinion with a simple thought experiment:

Think of an important leader that you do not like: A leader that you disagree with, who has attracted a powerful following (If you’re having trouble, consider the German word führer).

With this despicable but effective leader in mind, we can discount most of the popular leadership qualities: accountable, creative, team player, generous, ethical, humble, loyal, selfless, sincere, and trustworthy. Requirements, no doubt, for a good manager, but none is essential for effective leadership.

What remains? Vision, resolute against an enemy, credible guide. Those are the irreducible qualities of a leader. And this is the leader’s story in five acts.

1.       The leader’s social group faces a challenge.

Something has changed and there is a problem. The leader names the challenge.

2.       The leader claims the role of guide.

The rhetorical tool for the guide is the personal story. Great leaders craft their personal story to position themselves as the obvious saviour.

3.       A plan to a Promised Land

The leader lays out a plan to the ‘Promised Land’. The Promised Land could be victory in war, safety from any threat, or even a nostalgic vision (make our country great, again). In business it could be market share, a successful IPO or an acquisition.

4.       Avoids defeat by the enemy

An enemy is a crucial to the leader’s story. We’re motivated to avoid pain and loss more than to achieve a gain. Clearly defining the enemy creates in-group loyalty and motivates the group to support the leader. The separation between the threat of disaster and the promise of success gives the story tension and energy.

5.       Achieves Success

The leader is triumphant, leading the group away from disaster to the Promised Land.

You probably recognize this as the plot line of most movies and novels. It never fails to engage us.

On the 25th of May 1961, President John Kennedy addressed the US congress. America was losing the space race to the Soviet Union, which had just put the first man in orbit [change]. Kennedy explained that America was fighting against ‘adversaries of freedom’ [enemy] and losing its global leadership. Kennedy proposed putting a man on the moon within the decade and that success would signal a great new America and the ‘key to our future on earth’ [Promised Land]. He went on to spell out how obstacles would be overcome [Plan].

Effective leaders are storytellers. They enact the leader’s story by vanquishing the enemy and leading their people to the Promised Land. If you aspire to lead change and inspire engagement then craft your leader’s story.


Mike Adams is the bestselling author of Seven Stories Every Salesperson Must Tell (2018)


The State of the Global Workplace, Gallup Inc., 2017, Gallup Press

Loic Simon reviews Seven Stories on LinkedIn

By Loic Simon, founder of the Social Selling Forum

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See the original review here

I just finished "Seven Stories Every Salesperson Must Tell" by Mike Adams.

For me, it's currently THE most useful Storytelling book for Business Developers (and their leaders) ... ... who sell in complex purchasing contexts ... where their ability to guide their customers is paramount to their success and, above all, to that of their customers.

If you liked "The Challenger Customer" (which Mike refers to several times) and "The Future of the Sales Profession" by fellow countryman "Aussie" Graham Hawkins ... ... that I also strongly recommend, "Seven Stories ..." is really the book you need in addition: strategic, practical, stuffed with "Stories" very relevant.

And for a complex sales practitioner like me, what is featured in hashtag # StoryTelling is 100% in tune with the Sales and hashtag #SocialSelling approach that I defend at hashtag # SocialSellingForum! I make my reference book for the next few weeks ... PS. Less than 5 € in Kindle format (for launch), it's a bargain ... if you can read English.

And in French ….

Je viens de finir "Seven Stories Every Salesperson Must Tell" de Mike Adams.

Pour moi, c'est actuellement LE livre sur le StoryTelling le plus utile pour les Business Developers (et leurs dirigeants)... ... qui vendent dans des contextes d'achats complexes ... où leur capacité à guider leurs clients est primordiale pour leur réussite et, surtout, pour celle de leurs clients.

Si vous avez aimé "The Challenger Customer" (auquel Mike fait plusieurs fois référence) et "The Future of the Sales Profession" de son compatriote "Aussie" Graham Hawkins... ... que je vous recommande également vivement, "Seven Stories..." est vraiment LE livre qu'il vous faut en complément : stratégique, pratique, bourré de "Stories" très pertinentes.

Et pour un praticien de la vente complexe comme moi, ce qui y est présenté en matière de hashtag#StoryTelling est 100% en phase avec l'approche de la Vente et du hashtag#SocialSelling que je défends à longueur de hashtag#SocialSellingForum ! J'en fais mon livre de référence pour les prochaines semaines... PS. A moins de 5€ au format Kindle (pour le lancement), c'est une aubaine... si on sait lire l'anglais.

Seven Stories Review by Bob Apollo

I’ve long believed that top sellers are storytellers. They are able to call upon a rich fund of relevant anecdotes that they use to communicate and persuade far more convincingly than a conventional sales pitch could ever do. And in sharing their stories they encourage their customers to tell their own stories.

As humans, we are wired for story, and have been since long before the days of Homer. Some of us are naturally gifted storytellers, and others have to work on developing this critical skill. But we can all learn to do it well if we have the right framework and are prepared to put in the effort.

But unlike product knowledge or presentation and questioning skills, storytelling skills have rarely been part of the sales training agenda. It’s a subject that has been woefully neglected. The sales profession has been crying out for a guide, and I believe we have finally found one in an outstanding new book from Mike Adams...

It’s never been more important for sales people to be able to rise above the clutter of cookie-cutter communications and really engage with their customers at both an emotional and a rational level. And it’s never been more important that we cut out all the buzz-word and jargon-ridden nonsense and adopt a more empathetic approach to customer conversations.

All we’ve been waiting for is a guide. And Mike’s new book “Seven Stories Every Sales Person Must Tell” is the most comprehensive handbook I’ve ever come across to enable sales people to both tell more effective stories and to stimulate our customers to share their own stories in return.

According to Mike’s analysis, successful stories incorporate a sequence of events that fit a known framework, are interesting and unpredictable, turn on one main character and make or illustrate a relevant business point. If any of these are missing, the story is unlikely to engage, persuade or convince.

Perhaps most important, the listener needs to be able to relate to the protagonist and see some important aspects of their own situation in the journey undertaken by the hero of the story. And if the story is to be realistic, it must include some believable complications along the way.

If there is no struggle, there is no story. I believe this is why so many overly-sanitised case studies that follow a simple problem-solution pattern without acknowledging any difficulties along the way simply lack credibility - and why you’ve got to question whether there was any value in publishing them.

As Mike points out, myths, movies and novels can have complex narrative structures of the sort described by Joseph Campbell in “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”, but at minimum the narrative arc of any good sales story must include four key elements:

  1. Setting: First off, our story needs a setting to establish context - typically including time and place markers that allow our audience to start painting a mental picture

  2. Complications: If we are to establish our credibility and engage our audience’s attention, our story needs to incorporate complications and some element of unpredictability

  3. Turning point: Although complications are necessary to establish interest and credibility when telling sales stories, we (mostly) want to end on a positive note, so the turning point provides the crucial pivot for the story

  4. Resolution: The journey ends with the complications being resolved, tension and suspense being lifted, and a valuable lesson conveyed to the listener

We can embellish or extend these elements. But if any of these four key elements is missing, our story is unlikely to engage or persuade, or be in any way memorable to the listener.

By the way, I also recommend that where possible you add a fifth and final element to Mike's formula: the unexpected benefit. Once you have revealed the resolution, the story can become even more emotionally engaging if you add something like "but in addition to resolving their initial problem, they found that an unexpected benefit was [insert surprising additional benefit]".

Who are the most effective story tellers in your own organisation? I’d expect many of your best-performing sales people and business consultants to be members of this group, but it would be unusual if the company founders weren’t also highly effective story tellers.

How can we learn from their experiences and establish a company-wide story telling competence - one that not only makes existing staff more effective, but also inducts every new employee into a culture of storytelling and shared experience?

Well, it requires that we establish an ever-growing pool of sharable stories and encourage and equip our customer-facing people to practice and continually develop their story telling skills.

Mike’s book provides an essential foundation for this endeavour, and I commend it to you. For a very limited promotional period, you can download the Kindle version from Amazon for only £0.99.

The offer closes on Monday 13th August - so I strongly suggest that you download your copy today.

Well, you're probably asking, what are the 7 Stories every sales person must tell? Well, for the full details I suggest you read the book, but here’s a taster:

  • Your personal story

  • Key staff stories

  • Company creation story

  • Insight stories

  • Success stories

  • Values stories

  • Teaching stories

These story types differ in their choice of central character and their purpose. But Mike makes a compelling case for mastering every one of these story types - and provides detailed guidance on how to best develop and articulate each of them.

So - what’s your story? And how has story telling helped you succeed? Be sure to drop me a line or set up a call and tell me about your experiences - and I’d be happy to share my stories in return...



Bob Apollo is a Fellow of the Association of Professional Salesa regular contributor to the International Journal of Sales Transformation and the founder of UK-based Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners. Following a successful career spanning start-ups, scale-ups and corporates, Bob now works with high-potential tech-based B2B-focused scale-up businesses, equipping them to Sell in the Breakthrough Zone® by systematically creating, capturing and confirming their distinctive value in every customer interaction.

TopicsSelling the Difference