When you take any half-truth, and try to make a full truth out of it, progress in that field closes because the truth no longer needs to be tested.”
In the beginning, we all started off wanting to make a difference. We feel, we’re curious. The origins of our organizations are the same. We started with the desire to fix something, do something better, do something that matters: raw, pure and good intentioned. We wanted to be a part of something special.
Then something happened along the way. We grew. We merged. We scaled. We put models in place. We codified, cloned, and became obsessed with efficiencies and controls. This led to more replication, more cloning, more handbooks, play-books, automation, and we got farther and farther away from the things that mattered most. We took the models from the early 20th Century – assembly line thinking – and applied them to people and human-to-human experiences. The stuff that powered human ingenuity was shoved aside, and we became overly processed, overly engineered, and dehumanized…
And we were part of the problem. Mike Bosworth and Ben Zoldan had been collaborators for more than a decade, and combined trained tens of thousands of salespeople on process, and more process. We wrote the book on Solution Selling.
In 2008, after decades of doing this work, we had an incredible wake up call. Our own arrogance had stopped us from asking some deep questions. It is ironic, in an industry that should be grounded in curiosity, we had stopped being curious about our own approaches. We had closed off progress because we thought we had the answers, for so many years.
Why, though, hadn’t we progressed? Why hadn’t we addressed the 80/20 rule by now, given all the methodologies, trainings, and tools we developed? And when did the sales profession become so universally disliked?
We were also forced to address an even bigger epidemic. Why are so many people disengaged from the work we do? Why haven’t people been truly connected?
So we began to challenge our own beliefs, starting with, “Is there a different way to look at this?” Is there a better way to help people and organizations come together and thrive? 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 is an experience that has forever changed how I view the world” – Barry Sowerwine, SVP Enterprise Sales, Tableau
That’s where Storyleaders was born, our 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 fields of sales and leadership: when we focus on the most important values – passion, vulnerability, authenticity, connectedness and storytelling – everything falls into place, and our people and our organizations thrive at the highest level.