Episode #314 – Melissa Madian

Humans Communicate with Story

Melissa Madian communicate with story


Melissa Madian

Melissa Madian is the Founder and Chief Fabulous Officer at TMM Enablement Services Inc. She was one of the first people to pioneer the “sales enablement” role and has spent the past 25 years perfecting the sales experience for revenue-generating teams. She has successfully produced countless Sales Kick Offs, built world-class sales onboarding programs and created training academies for many SaaS companies. She is the author of the ultimate guide to revenue enablement, Enabler? I Hardly Know Her! How to Make the Sales Experience Not Suck and the children’s book, It came from the SCIENCE LAB!!! and she was a 2022 Winner of Women Making an Impact in Enablement.

Anyone can learn to incorporate storytelling into their day-to-day activities. Some people are more comfortable telling stories than others—but we’re all human. As humans, we tend to communicate via story, whether we actively recognize it or not. Even if you feel like you aren’t a natural storyteller, you likely are, you just aren’t aware that you can tell an effective story. Melissa Madian shares how to communicate with story in this episode of Sales Reinvented.

In this episode of @SalesReinvented, @MelissaMadian shares the best way for salespeople to communicate with story! #Sales #SalesReinvented #Storytelling #Story #Stories #StoryBrand #CommunicationClick To Tweet


Outline of This Episode

  • [1:13] What storytelling is an important skill to possess
  • [1:58] Why Melissa believes storytelling can be learned
  • [3:11] The ingredients of a story that sells
  • [5:42] The attributes and characteristics of a great storyteller
  • [7:16] Resources to improve storytelling abilities
  • [8:18] Melissa’s top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [10:27] How humans communicate with story

The ingredients of a story that sells

Melissa’s husband is a screenwriter. His whole job is to tell great stories. According to him, a great story consists of a few main elements:

  • A protagonist: Who does the story center around?
  • Conflict: how does the protagonist go through a transformation?
  • A beginning, middle, and end: The protagonist starts in one spot, goes through a transformation, and ends in a happily ever after state.

There’s usually a mentor that guides the protagonist on their journey. But what makes that story sell?

Melissa emphasizes that when you communicate with story, you have to think about your audience. The best salespeople convey relevant stories that are about your customer or buyer. That’s when it becomes a more effective story. Who doesn’t love to hear a story about themselves?

The attributes and characteristics of a great storyteller

Great salespeople listen first. Salespeople need to understand the world of the buyer that they’re speaking to. When you can get in the head of the buyer, you’re better at telling a story that connects. It helps you frame the story in their world. It’s about them and how they’ll be better with your product or solution. Good salespeople set the stage up for the buyer.

How does listening to your audience inform the stories you tell? Find out from @MelissaMadian in this episode of @SalesReinvented! #Sales #SalesReinvented #Storytelling #Story #Stories #StoryBrand #CommunicationClick To Tweet


Melissa’s top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts

Melissa’s storytelling tips are spot-on. Can you spot a theme?

  • Don’t make it about you. No one cares about you. It’s like going on a date and only talking about yourself.
  • Don’t pitch your product or solution as the hero of the storyline that you’re telling. Nobody cares about you.
  • Don’t set up your story with, “I’m going to tell you a story!”
  • Make your story about the audience and make them the protagonist.
  • Tell the story in their world. What does their day-to-day life look like? What does their world feel like? Set the scene where they’ll understand it.
  • Inject your own personality and sense of humor into the story.

How humans communicate with story

Even if your prospect is a busy executive or the most technical person you’ve ever met, they’re still human, right? And the most effective way to tell a story to another human being is through metaphors and analogies. Everyone can do this. We all use stories and analogies to explain complicated topics.

One of Melissa’s clients tried to explain their product to her. They started by saying, “Well, it’s a complicated system of data-cleansing that indexes and modifies files and allows you to transfer information.” To Melissa, it came across as “Blah, blah, blah.” So she asked him to explain it as if she were a child. So the client asked her if she’s ever moved. Of course, she said yes.

So he went on, “When you move from house A to house B, do you toss everything you own into boxes and move those boxes and when you arrive, question where they’re supposed to go? Or do you purge things you don’t need, put things in clearly labeled boxes, and every box goes to a specific room in house B? That’s what our software does. It takes your data, purges what you don’t need and indexes what you do, and then moves it to your new data warehouse. It puts what you need where you need it.”

That’s the story he should have told in the first place. Simple stories take something abstract and complicated and make it understandable to your audience.

How do humans communicate with story? @MelissaMadian shares some great takeaways about storytelling in the sales context in this episode of @SalesReinvented! #Sales #SalesReinvented #Storytelling #Story #Stories #StoryBrand #CommunicationClick To Tweet


Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Melissa Madian

Connect With Paul Watts


Audio Production and Show notes by

Learn More about Melissa Madian

Are there any books on or including Storytelling that you recommend? I’m a fan of the book, Save the Cat, which is a fantastic read on how to structure a story. It’s every screenwriter’s guide to effective storytelling!

In the field of Business Story Telling – Who do you most admire and why? I have enjoyed Tim Riesterer from Corporate Visions for many years, so much so that I’ve been a customer multiple times.

Are there any aspects of your own Story Telling skills that you are working on improving at the moment? Being more succinct, so I don’t ramble on like Grampa Simpson. 😊

Hobbies, Interests? I love playing video games on my PS4… The Dark Picture series is fantastic, as is Frogwares Sherlock Holmes series. Both are exceptional at telling an effective story.

How can our listeners contact with you? LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter or my website at TMM Enablement Services Inc.