How to Accelerate Your Sales Through Stories w/ Craig Wortmann [Episode 362]

Among the many topics that Craig and I discuss are why need to create a Sales Trailer, a sales version of a movie trailer, to very quickly capture buyers’ attention, how to create a story matrix; why stories of failure can be so persuasive and how to set your buyers’ expectations.

Joining me on this episode of Accelerate! is my guest Craig Wortmann, CEO and Founder of Sales Engine, Inc., a clinical professor of entrepreneurship at University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and author of the book, What’s Your Story? Using Stories to Ignite Performance and Be More Successful.


Craig worked in a Congressional office in D.C., and joined IBM about 25 years ago, selling the AS/400 in Chicago. Craig credits IBM with great training that prepared him to teach entrepreneurial selling to MBA students.

Craig teaches entrepreneurs how to survive, and then thrive, ‘in the wonderful chaos between time-zero and break-even.’

Customers will not beat a path to your door; sales is not a subset of marketing; and, the time to hire a salesperson is after you have a sales model.

Buyers will not work to understand your message. You have to work to be understood.

Create a Sales Trailer. It’s like a movie trailer for sales. You don’t have four paragraphs to tell a prospect about your brand. You have eight seconds to capture their attention.

Expectations start to get set in the qualifying phase. When does the qualifying phase begin, and how long do you take to qualify your prospect?

The best salespeople can recognize when there’s not a fit, will say so, and will offer to connect the prospect with other resources that may serve their present needs.

Entrepreneurial selling includes the step of resetting expectations, which is done in a short conversation after the close, preparing the client for customer success.

What’s Your Story? introduces the story matrix, a tool you can use to to develop important messaging themes.

Why do stories of failure affect in a positive way?

Impact questions uncover better information. They dig deeper, cut broader, and have harder answers. Ask something about the business, the client should know, but doesn’t. Don’t ask impact questions before a conversation is on solid ground.


What’s your most powerful sales attribute?

Simplicity. Being able to give people crisp answers.

Who is your sales role model?

Keith Harrell at IBM. He had a profound influence on me.

What’s one book that every salesperson should read?

Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success,

by Adam Grant.

What music is on your playlist right now?

From the soundtrack of Money Monster, “What Makes The World Go Round? (MONEY!)”, by Dan The Automator, featuring Del The Funky Homosapien.