Ben Zoldan and Mike Bosworth had been collaborators for years, training thousands of salespeople. The focus had always on the same thing: sales process, methodology, messaging, the playbooks, product expertise; a series of logic-oriented, rational approaches to selling.
In 2008, we wanted to see what else was out there; to ask new questions. When we did, it became clear to us that we’ve been dominated by a half-truth, and we hadn’t fully understood what it was that the most influential/inspiring people were doing that had been so elusive.
What was it that allowed certain people to reach the high levels of connection with others, that foster cooperation, the reciprocal sharing of ideas and beliefs, and that inspire others to change. It had to be more than the process, the messaging or product expertise. Nobody – not us – nor anyone else in our industry was tackling this more difficult, less tangible areas of selling and influence. Our existing models were wildly inadequate.
So we did it. We began challenging our own beliefs, starting with, “Is there a better way?” This led to more and more questions, a domino effect, and soon we found ourselves in fields of study that had been previously off limits to us — fields that explored the mysteries of communication that we’d written off as unteachable because they fell outside the purview of our models and industry research.
This exploration led us into disciplines such as neuroscience, anthropology, evolutionary science, and others. This was an exhilarating period for us, learning things about human behaviors that were groundbreaking. We started to wonder if we could apply the same toolkit we were learning from these other fields, to the profession of Sales & Influence. It soon became clear that the research we were now immersed in explained the hidden forces of human connection, trust, motivation, passion and purpose in a whole new way, and could be applied to unlock the hidden potential in salespeople and leaders. The real lesson for us was not just in the answers that the research and science turned up, but it was the process of science that inspired us to want to break down our own barriers, and search for new approaches.
From there, we began to apply what we were now learning, but for us, the question remained: are these traits & qualities learnable, and therefore, by extension, teachable. If so, how? After years of examination, testing, and applying new learning experiences – as well as unlearning what we knew, Storyleaders was born. By 2010, we began delivering workshops, and it took off from there – delivering these workshops to some of the most innovative companies in the world. Designed originally for salespeople, it then became clear to us that our workshops are for anyone involved in the Human-To-Human business: from Salespeople, to Leaders, Engineers, and so on.
Here is the biggest thing we have learned: that there is something greater at play in the field of sales, leadership, and influence; Connection; the ability to truly feel connected, to authentically connect. And although this journey is still new for us, what’s become clear is that when connection becomes the center piece of our focus, everything else falls into place. Salespeople become so much more effective. Leaders lead with so much greater effectiveness, and so on.