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Storytelling for product managers


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These are the slides I used for my Storytelling for Product Managers session at the Silicon Valley Product Camp on March 30, 2018.

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Storytelling for product managers

  1. 1. Storytelling For PMs Nils Davis The Secret Product Manager Handbook
  2. 2. Storytelling - Critical Skill ● For selling your products ● For selling your ideas ● For selling yourself
  3. 3. ● True ○ “Directionally” ● Emotionally compelling ● Exciting ○ At least not boring ● Compact and leaves ‘em wanting more How do we make this happen for “our customer used our product and got more sales?” A Good (Sales) Story Is
  4. 4. Story Structure - Basic ● Beginning ● Middle ● End For sales stories ● Beginning = Problem (or Opportunity) ● Middle = Solution ● End = Results “PSR” for Problem-Solution-Results
  5. 5. Example - Live From Audience Who has a story?
  6. 6. Making It A Better Story ● Find a “vertical takeoff” ○ A bad thing was going to happen until I stepped in ○ (Or, a good thing wasn’t going to happen until I stepped in) ● Work on concrete results - both quantitative and emotionally grabby ○ “Pay off” all the challenges mentioned in the problem ○ Quantitative results and business results are NOT emotionally grabby ○ Emotionally grabby are “I was promoted,” “I become the expert,” “I got a nice pat on the back,” etc. ○ Also, to some people, “we crushed the competitors” is emotionally grabby
  7. 7. Storytelling Coaching (1 of 2) ● People struggle most with the problem and the results ○ Note: “Problem” section could be an opportunity ● To find the real pain, and the real emotional content, some good questions are: ○ “What would have happened if you hadn’t solved the problem?” ○ “How much would that have cost?” ○ “What was the business impact of doing nothing?” ○ “What would that mean for your job?” ○ “Tell me more” ○ Help them find a “vertical takeoff”
  8. 8. Storytelling Coaching (2 of 2) ● For the solution, some good guidance is ○ “Leave them wanting to know more, so they can ask questions” ○ 4-5 key actions that you took, or that you led or guided ○ What did you do ● For the results ○ “Did you get recognition for this?” ○ “Did it make your boss look better? Help him/her save face?” ○ “Did you get a raise or a promotion?” ○ “Did it change your reputation in the company? Did you become the expert in that?”
  9. 9. Using Stories ● Customer success stories ○ “Our customer had problem P” - meaty, emotionally grabby, and business-significant, with a vertical takeoff ○ Solution = “They tried other things and failed, then got our product because of X, Y, and Z” ○ Results = “Their problem was solved, our champion got a raise, and they started taking market share from their competitors” ○ Since they are longer, you will need to spread the story - and the results - out ● Job interview - “Tell me about a time…” ○ Aim for 90 seconds for the whole story - ¼ problem, ½ solution, ¼ results
  10. 10. Using Stories ● Pitching a new product idea ○ Problem is market problem with significant impact to the customer ○ Solution is “They tried all these things and they didn’t work” or “they are using spreadsheets and it’s causing all kinds of problems” ○ Results are “If we do X, our market will have results Y” ● Bullets - use “R, by S” - “results by solution” ○ Customer story: “Let me tell you how one of our customers achieved massive market share growth using our product.” ○ Resume bullet: “Turned sales around, and sales team achieved quota for three quarters in a row, by driving a change in how we demoed the product”
  11. 11. Advanced Topics ● “Two problems” ○ Initial problem was presented ○ During solution found real underlying problem ○ VERY effective story structure (almost all Hollywood movies have this structure) ● Setup ○ Sometimes you have to set up the situation before getting to the problem ○ This is OK, but be quick about it!
  12. 12. What Questions Do You Have?
  13. 13. Contact ● Nils Davis ● ● Website: ● Slides: ● Book: The Secret Product Manager Handbook ○ On Amazon as paperbook or ebook