Tell Me A Story - Storytelling and Salesforce

11/26/2018 by Peter White
The use of storytelling in Salesforce practices.

Once upon a time there were stacks of spreadsheets. Everyday people diligently created or modified spreadsheets to be used in their personal and professional lives to manage all the things. They entered, copied, and pasted their data into cells, neatly organized in rows and columns, adding to the stacks until their desks (and disks) overflowed. They celebrated as snippets of their data were used in executive presentations and reveled in the joy of knowing which widgets were delivered. All was well, or was it?

Did the executives change their data for the presentation, and what do you mean the $%# disk is full? People felt lost, betrayed by their own creations. One day a team of nerds came together for drinks, as they usually did on days that contained the letter “T”. They discussed their trials and tribulations until the topics of “storage” and “bad data” came up. One thing led to another, and they came up with a better way, a system of organized data that could be accessed by those who the nerds felt worthy. The database was born. Because of that, people everywhere could now organize their stuff and track their things in one place. And they celebrated.

“What you’re trying to do, when you tell a story, is to write about an event in your life that made you feel some particular way. And what you’re trying to do, when you tell a story, is to get the audience to have that same feeling.”    ~ Pete Docter - Chief Creative Officer, Pixar

There’s nothing like a good story to hold your attention and stir your emotions. A story can engage, enlighten, and inspire you. People resonate with them, often remembering and even retelling the tale to others. We’ve all heard of Pixar and watched their incredible (pun intended) movies. Their animation engineering is second to none, but it’s their stories that pull you in, keep you engaged, and stir you to cheer on the hero. These, along with many others, are the reasons why we should craft and utilize stories in our Salesforce world. Here are some ways in which you can invoke stories within your Salesforce practices.

Selling

There’s no better way to sell an idea, concept, or even a widget or two than with a story. Give it a try; if anything it will cause you to dig deeper into the details, the emotions, and uncover the true value.

User stories describe the “need”, something that the user needs to do in his day-to-day job. They are a way to play back what you heard, so the audience knows that you know their need. There’s a plethora of “how to’s” and “do’s and don'ts” out there for you; remember to keep it simple and concise. It has to flow and should be as smooth as butter.

Implementing

Implementations have a greater chance of succeeding when user stories are used from the sale, through implementation, and ultimately training. Many times they are translated into use cases to frame a project, but while user stories define the “need”, use cases describe the complete interaction between the system/software and users. They help identify both key roles on which to base the characters that communicate the problems and potential solutions and victories. Make your user stories fun and memorable, so that your audience can vividly recall details through these characters and their actions. “It’s Monday morning, and Riverdale Community Center is buzzing with the incessant alarm tones of Betty’s notifications. They are off the charts; let’s login as Betty and check our queue to see exactly what all the commotion is about.” Your audience will empathize with Betty, as she faces this beast of a challenge and cheer when she eventually emerges as the hero who slays the dragon.

Training

Naturally stories can be useful in training. The audience will resonate with the actors and actions, heroes and villains, pains and pitfalls. They will feel the pain that the story character is experiencing. My colleague Samantha Safin (@thesafinhold) wrote a great post on training like a teacher, in which she speaks of “classroom management” and “keeping people’s attention”.  Take the participants from their struggles, through their challenges, and ultimately make them the heroes, the conquerors, and watch the adoption rate increase.

Methods

It’s worthwhile to invest time in learning various writing and storytelling methods. Google away, and you’ll easily find a vast assortment of tools and techniques, from books to podcasts. Here are some recommendations on where to begin.

Have you used storytelling effectively? What has your experience been? Want to share your thoughts or opinions? Please feel free to reach out on the Arkus Facebook page, in the comments below, in the Success Community, or to me directly via Twitter at @sfdcclicks.