Enableocity sales enablement-as-a-service Blog



4 min read

Moving the Needle and other Sales Enablement Challenges

By Mark Gibson on Fri, Aug 07, 2015

Recently I met with a top sales enablement professional whom I'll call Bob, to exchange ideas.

During the meeting I was introduced to the concept of the Three Humped Camel. Bob wishes to remain nameless as he started a new job and does not wish the camel phenomena to be tied back his prior employer.

13% of Salespeople produce 87% of Revenue

I raised a question which prompted the discussion after reading Mike Bosworth's recent book, " What Great Salespeople Do". In it, Mike quotes a study of 1100 B2B companies by Greg Alexander of Sales Benchmark Index, which reveals that the old maxim of 20% of salespeople selling 80% of the business is no longer true.

According to Sales Benchmark Index, now 13% of salespeople are selling 87% of the business.

When I asked Bob to draw the quota distribution graph for his old firm, he drew something that looked like this.
This is obviously just a quick hand-drawn sketch from memory, but the point Bob was making is that the majority of the sales team were not making their numbers and were dispersed around 40% of quota achievement, with a smaller hump around 100% and another hump at around 150% of quota achievement. 

Topics: mike bosworth sales training sales enablement
4 min read

Life after Powerpoint - Using Stories for Engagement

By Mark Gibson on Tue, Jun 25, 2013

Last week I had to open a 3-day messaging workshop with a new client in front of the sales and marketing executive team. I had prepared several visual confections in a 10-slide PowerPoint presentation using examples to lead the discussion and was fully prepared for the meeting.

The night before the messaging workshop my client requested that we use a different approach to creating the messaging, which made my PowerPoint deck redundant. Fortunately the client had a whiteboard and a flip chart handy.

Starting a Meeting with a Story  

To kick off a 3-day workshop, I still needed engagement and buy-in from the audience. My sponsor in the messaging workshop and I had worked on a similar messaging and sales enablement project several years earlier, which was transformational for his company and he introduced me and told his version of the "Who I've Helped Story" of our prior engagement, from the customers point of view, which was fantastic as this story is always more powerful coming from the customer, vs. the supplier.

Since many of the participants did not know me, I started with my "Who I Am" story. In 90 seconds I told the story of the past 10 years of my professional life as a consultant. It wasn't a story about how fantastic I am - it was about the journey, the struggle and the lessons learned, that give me unique insight.
I will outline my story in bullets so that you can see the form of the story from the storyboard above and you can adapt it to tell your own story.
  • In 2003 I was staring down the barrel of a 2nd lay-off in 2 years. (setting stage & vulnerability)
  • Realized customers had changed and I hadn't. (journey begins)
  • Didn't have 20 years selling experience - really had 1 year experience repeated 20 years over. (vulnerability)
  • Started a search for new ideas, journey of discovery - (call to adventure)
  • (Joke) My wife heard me practicing my story - she said "keep looking" (humor)
  • Moved to UK, started a sales training consultancy (transition)
  • First graduates could get meetings with CXO's, but when they got there would revert to "product-speak" - Realized they needed messaging to help engage buyers around their issues. Started messaging which has been a part of every engagement since. (struggle + Insight)
  • In 2008 we had customers, but no leads - introduced to HubSpot and started creating content and generating leads and has become a part of our DNA. Messaging now used to drive content marketing. (experience + lightbulb moment)
  • 2010 relocated back to USA and met Corey Sommers at Whiteboard Selling, invited me to work with him to use my sales training experience and messaging skills to create visual stories. (relevant experience) 
  • 2013 connected with Mike Bosworth and learned story telling, come full circle - that's why were here - capture your message so everyone can tell your story. (call to action and resolution)
Next, I needed enrollment in the discipline of our process for the next 3 days.

Using a Curiosity Hook for Enrolment

After I told my "Who-I-am" story, I drew three large numbers on the flip chart.
I asked the audience what they thought the    
128,000 related to.
After several guesses, I revealed that this is the number of times their 40 person sales team would pitch their "big-idea" in the next 12 months if they had just four conversations a day with prospective customers. If we add everyone else in the company who needs to answer the "so-what-do-you-guys-do?" question, it would be over a million times a year.

Then I revealed the question mark with a question ...How clear is your sales team in positioning the value of your technology solutions on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is terrible and 10 is crystal clear.
I was somewhat surprised when the answer came back and the consensus was 5....to which I responded "that's OK, it's where most of our clients start and thanks for your honesty and we hope to be somewhere near 10 when we exit this process".

The final number 10% had everyone stumped. This is the percentage of sales meetings with salespeople that buyers rate as actually worth having, where the vendor brought insight to the table.
The remaining 90% of sales meetings are rated as a waste of time as the vendor talked about product or tried to develop a relationship...neither of which buyers want or need.

If you are interested in learning to tell your story in an engaging manner and in more effectively listening to the buyer as you tend their story, you are invited to join us at the forthcoming Open Storyseekers workshops in Seattle.

StorySeekers Open Workshop Registration
Topics: mike bosworth sales training marketing messaging storytelling
5 min read

Revelations on Story Telling - Survey Results

By Mark Gibson on Mon, Jun 10, 2013

Last week I co-hosted a "What Great Salespeople Do", Story Telling Webinar with Mike Bosworth to explore what the top 13% of salespeople are doing, that the core group has yet to master. 
Topics: mike bosworth storytelling visual storytelling
4 min read

Why Salespeople Fail- Failure to Listen & Premature Elaboration

By Mark Gibson on Tue, May 21, 2013

Earlier this month, I immersed myself in two and a half days with Mike Bosworth in his Story Seekers workshop and was once again reminded of what makes great salespeople great - their ability to connect emotionally with buyers and to truly listen.

I cannot easily summarize the 2.5 days in 600 words, but I can give you a couple of core ideas.

I've been a Mike Bosworth fan since I read Customer-Centric Selling in January 2005, but I had not read his prior work, “Solution Selling” published nearly 30 years ago, based on his experiences at Xerox and involvement in the SPIN project. Mike was one of the most successful reps in Xerox history at the time and gained much experience in selling, managing and training salespeople before most of us started our sales careers.

While reading his latest book, co-authored with Ben Zoldan, entitled, "What Great Salespeople Do", I could feel myself nodding as I could either see myself in the stories, or agreed with his ideas and training philosophy. 

One of Mike’s startling revelations in the opening of the training course is that after nearly 30 years of sales training in both Solution Selling and Customer-Centric Selling (and most of the other mainstream sales methodologies), not much has changed for the bottom 80% of the sales force, who sell 20% of the revenue.

The outcome of these training courses was that the best salespeople got better from using the techniques and processes, but the core group typically stopped using the techniques within a month or two of the training and reverted to prior behavior. Mike points out that in fact the old 80/20 rule is no longer true in fact it’s now 13% of salespeople selling 87% of the business. (Sales Benchmark Index)


The answer to this question is not masterful use of the CRM system; adherence to the 9-box questioning model, or the number of connects per day or the ability to dazzle with presentation and demonstration skills. These are table stakes in the old process oriented, logical “left-brain” training paradigm for sales professionals.

It turns out that great salespeople are able to forge strong emotional connections with buyers, either through a natural or learned ability to quickly create rapport, listen empathically and connect emotionally with buyers, typically through story.

Top salespeople are able to connect emotionally with buyers quickly, which the Franklin-Covey organization refers to as “speed of trust”. This is one of the most critical skills in today’s buyer-seller relationship, where the salesperson’s “at-bat” opportunities are fewer and meeting duration is shorter.

Status-quo thinking with sales leaders is that right-brained empathy and rapport skills can’t be taught. “It’s too touchy-feely for our hard-bitten sales team” We are looking for sales leaders who are willing to challenge that belief, who understand that these skills are probably the most important and most underdeveloped in the core group.
Storytelling is as old as mankind and no one ever turns down an opportunity to hear a good story. When you tell a story and expose your vulnerability in the process, you invoke a reciprocal emotion in the listener and create an opportunity to tend (draw out) the other-person’s story and this is what builds trust. This is not a story about how great you are as a salesperson; how big your company is, or how wonderful your products are. These are the stories most salespeople are telling today to buyers who haven’t asked to hear them - most of the time.

Truly listening to the other person, reflecting their words and emotions, (without thinking about what you are going to say next, interrupting, mentally counting the commission, or trying to qualify in or out), is a skill and it can be learned and mastered with deliberate practice.

Mike used an expression “premature elaboration” to describe how salespeople - who are experts in their field and familiar with the buyer situation are too keen to tell the buyer what they need.

Neil Rackham created an expression that still holds true today as a result of his research in the SPIN project. 


This is premature elaboration and most of us in sales have been guilty of it at some point in our careers. If you put yourself on the buyers side of premature elaboration, it feels like you're being told and then sold and that's what gives salespeople a bad name. Learning to truly listen and tend the buyers story will help you to learn more about the buyers issues before you offer your solution. 

The Story Arc

We created and learned to tell three stories in the workshop;
  1. Who Ive helped,
  2. Who I am,  
  3. Who I represent,

All stories we created follow a similar story arc and we used this story format to tend the stories of others. On the evening of the 2nd. day, our homework assignment was to call someone we love and ask them a question and tend their story using the skills we had learned in class and the story arc to help tend the conversation. I called my 17 year old daughter, Olivia and we had a conversation for about 40 minutes, unlike any we had had before.

We are looking for early adopters in sales leadership willing to pilot a Story Seekers Storytelling workshop for struggling reps who they would hire again (competent + character). 

Join us for a live Storytelling Webinar with Mike Bosworth
Storytelling Webinar with Mike Bosworth
Topics: mike bosworth story seekers sales enablement storytelling
4 min read

Using Stories for Sales Engagement - What Great Salespeople Do!

By Mark Gibson on Thu, Dec 27, 2012

Mike Bosworth is a sales trainer and mentor for tens of thousands of B2B salespeople Worldwide through his seminars, consulting, and his books, "Solution Selling", "Customer-centric Selling" and now "What Great Salespeople Do".

When Mike stated recently that the old stuff isn't working any more and moved away from these generally accepted sales process models to start an entirely new business to teach salespeople to tell stories, I took note and I bought his new book,  What Great Salespeople Do.
One astonishing statistic published in the book reveals the unfortunate truth in the sales profession and that is, now just 13% of salespeople are responsible for 87% of the revenue (*Sales Benchmark Index). This led Mike to the realization that despite decades of conventional sales training, the core group of salespeople had not improved their performance. That is, decades of sales training made the best salespeople better, but the bottom 80% did not improve. On closer examination of the 13% who were selling 87% of the business in his own organization, Mike found that they all had the ability to forge real emotional connections with their customers.
Topics: mike bosworth storytelling rapport and emapthy