Hung Out to Dry: Reps Without a Story

According to the Cambridge University Press, to “hang someone out to dry” means:

“…to allow someone to be punished, criticized, or made to suffer in a way that is unfair, without trying to help them…”

B2B sales managers may inadvertently be doing just that to their sales team.

Managers require sales reps to contact customers -and- sales reps need contact from customers to make sales – but customers need a reason to engage. Just like the rest of us, customers are overburdened and don’t have time to get everything done. So, why would customers:

  • Reply to sales reps’ emails?
  • Return sales reps’ calls?
  • Accept sales reps’ requests for intro meetings?

Reps can’t expect much traction if they’re only slinging benefits and features at customers; that doesn’t cut it anymore. Customers don’t need sales reps to tell them what’s available – customers can get tons of info online before they feel the need to talk with a sales rep.

All Sales Reps can’t be Mark Twain

Mark Twain, an American writerJust as sales managers need pipelines to manage — sales reps need an engaging big story to give customers a reason to interact.

This is especially true early in the buying process when customers identify problems, explore solutions, and build requirements — but reps may not be able to help yet because they don’t know enough about that customer’s specifics.

Customers giveth reps access, or not. An engaging big story can be the key to that access.”

And while there may be the rare sales rep as great a storyteller as Mark Twain, most are mere mortals, good enough to be a successful salesperson but not a great literary figure (not that reps ever need to be a literary figure).

Everyone understands stories; it’s how we’re all wired. Customers “get” stories if those narratives are memorable, emotional, and credible. That narrative must move customers to engage, and be repurposed by reps repeatedly into emails, calls, meetings, etc.

But that’s a big “if.” Creating an engaging big story ain’t easy.


Sales managers should/must/need to provide an engaging big story that reps can repurpose at different times and in different ways for emails, calls, meetings, etc. Hopefully, the story is created via a collaborative design between sales reps and managers.

Reps must tailor each usage of the engaging big story to a particular instance, rather than repeating the same old verbiage.

If reps are left to fend for themselves, i.e., make up their own engaging big story, well then, let’s just say there will be a lot of interesting but not very useful stories flying around that customers are likely to ignore.

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