Episode #317 – Bob Apollo

Bob Apollo’s Mantra: Resist the Itch to Pitch

Bob Apollo


Bob Apollo

Bob Apollo is the Chief Outcomes Officer of Inflexion-Point – the B2B sales effectiveness consultancy, a founding fellow of the Institute of Sales Professionals, and a founding contributor to the International Journal of Sales Transformation. 

Human beings persuade others—and ourselves—with stories. Successful salespeople communicate using stories and it differentiates them from the rest. It’s important in any interaction. So Bob Apollo implores salespeople to “resist the itch to pitch” and instead, tell a story.

Salespeople: You NEED to resist the itch to pitch, according to @bobapollo. Find out why it’s important in this episode of @SalesReinvented! #Sales #SalesReinvented #Story #Storytelling #Stories #StoryBrand #PersuadeClick To Tweet


Outline of This Episode

  • [0:50] Why storytelling is an important skill to possess
  • [1:37] Can you become a gifted storyteller?
  • [2:41] The ingredients of a great story that sells
  • [4:00] Characteristics and attributes of a great storyteller
  • [5:45] How to improve your storytelling capabilities
  • [9:24] Top 3 storytelling dos and top 3 don’ts
  • [13:27] Resist the itch to pitch

The ingredients of a great story that sells

Bob is convinced anyone can improve their storytelling skills. If you’ve ever participated in debate or theater, it can develop your confidence. It can make a powerful group exercise with other salespeople. To become a better storyteller, all you need is a simple structure and consistent practice.

Bob points out that the essence of a great story dates back to the Greeks. Aristotle identified the three elements of a great story:

  • Ethos: Can you tell a story with credibility and expertise?
  • Pathos: Can you inject emotion into the story? Can you use your voice as a vehicle to support the story?
  • Logos: How can you use logic and facts to demonstrate a point?

If you assess what makes a good sales story, they always include these elements.

Characteristics and attributes of a great storyteller

Empathy, emotional intelligence, curiosity, and a desire to persuade through rhetoric are important. Can you read the audience and pick up signals from the listener? Can you adjust and adapt accordingly so your stories have the greatest possible impact?

Good stories require that the salesperson can put themselves in the shoes of the listener. Really good stories are stories where the hero is the listener. It’s the best way to convince the audience that they can do better and be more successful.

Empathy, emotional intelligence, and curiosity are important attributes for salespeople to have. Find out what else is important in this episode of @SalesReinvented! #Sales #SalesReinvented #Story #Storytelling #Stories #StoryBrand #PersuadeClick To Tweet


Top storytelling dos and top 3 don’ts

What are Bob’s recommendations?

  • Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Imagine what will be interesting to them.
  • Make sure that the story is about them or what they can achieve, not just about you or your company.
  • Don’t over-simplify the customer journey. If you’re trying to do something complex, there will be obstacles. Instead of sugar-coating the story and trying to con your audience, inject gritty reality into the story so it’s credible.
  • Don’t over-simply something that your audience will suspect is difficult. Story is to help your listener become confident about an issue they might have doubts about. They won’t believe you and your story will be less effective.
  • Don’t lie. It’s never a great way to start a relationship and lying will not build trust.

What else? Resist the itch to pitch.

Resist the itch to pitch

Bob was working with a company that had one salesperson that was far more successful and effective than anyone else. To understand what set him apart, Bob looked at everyone’s proposals. The underperforming salespeople ended their proposals with summaries about how they were better or why the prospect should buy from them. They were pitching the prospects.

The top-performing salesperson told a story. He didn’t start with “why us” but why the customer needed to change instead of carrying along the current path. He also shared why the customer would benefit from immediate action. Only once he established those things did he share the “why us.”

Unlike his colleagues, this salesperson realized that by the time you get to a proposal, you aren’t competing against other vendors. You’re competing against the other projects that the customer could be spending money on. The last element they had to overcome was proving why they should approve this project rather than all the others.

What happened when his colleagues attempted to embrace his storytelling style? Listen to hear the whole story!

You have to resist the itch to pitch when you’re telling sales stories. @bobapollo shares why in this episode of @SalesReinvented! #Sales #SalesReinvented #Story #Storytelling #Stories #StoryBrand #PersuadeClick To Tweet


Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Bob Apollo

Connect With Paul Watts


Audio Production and Show notes by

Learn More About Bob Apollo

Are there any books on or including Storytelling that you recommend? There are many, but three in particular stand out: “Seven Stories Every Salesperson Must Tell” by Mike Adams, Mike Bosworth’s “What Great Salespeople Do” and Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why

In the field of Business Story Telling – Who do you most admire and why? Recently, I’ve very much enjoyed listening to Ed Gabrys of Gartner’s perspectives on the subject 

Are there any aspects of your own Story Telling skills that you are working on improving at the moment? Collecting and polishing an even bigger and better pool of stories 

Hobbies, Interests? We live on the coast – so walking our dog on the beach, generally keeping fit, being European, and overthrowing corrupt and despotic regimes

How can our listeners contact with you? At bob(at)inflexion-point.com, or they can book a call at https://www.inflexion-point.com/book-a-call