Storytelling and Sales: Apples to Apples?

Storytelling and Sales: Apples to Apples?

In our training class we hammer home the idea that it’s important to be able to help a business owner know exactly how important it is to be truly competitive online.

Apart from digital advertising spends surpassing traditional advertising spends in 2019, the fact is this: audiences are online.

If a business is under-performing online, that means one harsh reality: their competition is winning their potential customers. 

But we all know that business owners still need to ‘see the big picture’ before their wallets open (read as: sign on the proposal’s dotted line).

And while we use relatable stories and analogies in class, we’re always looking for new ways to tell the ‘value’ story in a way that grads can use the story itself or as a way to trigger their own sales script to come up with a similar story — at the end of the day, it’s what you feel comfortable with.

Our marketing director, Joe Schaefer, thought of a new analogous story and we thought we’d share it here.

A Tale of Two Apple Stands

Let’s say you make a living selling apples at a roadside stand. Your neighbor, Jim, does the same thing. Your sales aren’t as high as you’d like them to be, but Jim is doing fantastic. In fact, he rode by on his brand new wagon this morning on his way to sell more of his popular apples.

Jim’s Apples Sell Better

Turns out, Jim’s apples sell better because he’s the first one on the road after people turn into town from the highway. Also, his customers say his apples are more attractive, juicier, taste better, and are just plain delicious.

People Are Talking

The Book Club in town is always saying great things about Jim’s apples and Mr. Howell, the town newspaper reporter, raves about them in the Town Crier almost weekly.

A Solution Arrives

One sunny day, Jerry, an award-winning apple grower, saunters into town. Jerry stops by your apple stand and he takes a close look at your apples. Jerry says, “I have a solution!” He continues, “What if I told you that with better soil, a different way of watering the apple trees, invasive worm removal from the surrounding ground, and some professional fertilizer, I can help you sell more apples, if not more than Jim?”

Please choose one reply below, because the future of your apple stand depends on it.

Do you say: 

  1. Nothing
  2. I’ll have my sister’s friend who once made an apple pie help out
  3. I accept your help! When can we get started?
  4. You tell Jerry you only want the soil and you’ll take your chances otherwise

If you chose any answer other than #3, we’d love to have you email us and tell us why!

The point is, this story helps people relate to exactly what you’re trying to do for them with your agency, but in a way that makes it so anyone can understand. I’d be surprised if any business owner chose other than #3! Do you agree?

If you need a breakdown of how this story relates, see below, otherwise this micro-lesson is over — go grow your business! Have a great day!


  • 2 competing businesses; one doing well, the other is average or below average
  • The popular stand is first off the highway (think SEO and rank)
  • The Book Club is raving and talking (think; Social Media)
  • The reporter from the Town Crier is raving and talking (think: reviews)
  • An expert has the solution that can make the less-busy apple stand finally compete!

The answers: 

Do nothing: You’ll come across those people; but telling a narrative like above will no doubt strike a cord.

I’ll have my sister’s friend who once made an apple pie help out: Wouldn’t you want an expert working on this?

You only want the soil: Uh, only using some of the puzzle pieces won’t finish the puzzle!

DMTG Grad Success Interview: Steve B.

DMTG Grad Success Interview: Steve B.

Many of our recent grads had requested a former attendee stop in to class to speak to how he is finding success with prospecting, pitching, and closing client campaigns.

In order to fulfill that request, we called one of our recent grads (from the past 12 months) and interviewed him in order to get those tactics and stories of success out to our grads.

Here’s the interview of Steve B.:


What’s Your Sales Cycle, Baby?

What’s Your Sales Cycle, Baby?

“It’s not about having the right opportunities. It’s about handling the opportunities right.” -Mark Hunter

It’s important to remember that every sales cycle differs, depending on your sales person and the people they are selling to. At its base, a sales cycle is nothing more than a repeatable, series of steps that can be mapped out to track interaction with your prospects. These steps allow you to pinpoint the first interaction with your business all the way through to the close.

There are 5 basic steps to account for in EVERY single sales cycle, regardless of the amount of time a prospect spends in each of them. Drilling into them will help you make sure you don’t lose anyone on their journey to becoming a client.

  1. Lead Generation. This is one of the easiest steps for your sales person, putting together a list of leads, or as some call it, a prospecting list. They may do this using outbound methods, their own network or inbound marketing. Once you’ve made the list you then have to go through it and decide who meets the criteria you’ve put together. This is where having solid buyer personas come in.
  2. Qualifying. This is crucial. You don’t want to waste money and time on pursuing an individual who is not ideal for your company. Ask yourself if the company in question has a need for your services. Do they have the budget? If not, move on. If you are unsure, it doesn’t hurt to have a discovery call, but use the call to quickly drill down on whether or not you’d be a good fit.
  3. Value Sell. Now that you’ve qualified the lead and reached out and they seem interested, it’s time to show off. Show this prospect what your solutions are and how they can assist the prospect in reaching their goals. If you fall down here, you can pretty much guarantee that you’ll lose the sale.
  4. Trusted Advisor to Prospects. You’ve dazzled the prospect with the value your services can add to their company and now you’ve have to dazzle them as they voice their objections and questions. This is where you set the stage for the delivery of the product and the relationship with the client moving forward. You must be able to handle the prospect’s objections and help them to understand why they need you. If you can do this, you will leave with the sale.
  5. Deliver and Support. You may have made the sale, but the relationship doesn’t end there. You’ve got to make sure you deliver what was promised and make sure that you keep an open line of communication with your new client. Set up a quarterly business review, to check on the progress and open the path to upsell other services.

This is a very basic breakdown of the sales cycle. You can add more steps or break these steps down into even more detail, either way it all depends on you and knowing your sales cycle. As always if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below or, reach out to us at 518-694-4044.

Dude, What’s an Invoice?

Dude, What’s an Invoice?

You’ve made your first sale and it’s time to get paid. That means it’s time to invoice the client. What exactly does that mean? You know you need to send your client something, but you’re a little unsure of what you need to include on your invoice. We’ve covered invoicing software in the past, and today we’re going to spell out exactly what you need to include on your invoice.

Invoice Basics

What exactly is an invoice though? An invoice is physical or electronic document identifying the price for services. This lets your client know how much they need to pay you and what they are paying you for. It’s important to remember that an invoice can be seen from two perspectives, you as the seller, and them as the purchaser. You see the invoice as your sales invoice, and to the purchaser this is the product invoice. You also set terms on the invoices for the payment, it can be due on a certain day in the future, it can be due on receipt (meaning right now).

Clarity Is Key

It’s important to be clear on the differences between an invoice and a receipt. An invoice is not a receipt, nor a receipt of payment. As defined above, the invoice is just the seller-prepared document informing the buyer of the service they are requesting and the price. A receipt is what the seller prepares after the invoice has been paid. In the case of the invoice being for a tangible good (rather than a service) the receipt typically shows proof of ownership, and of course that the item is paid in full.

The Characteristics of an Effective Invoice

Now that you know what an invoice is, it’s time to lock down what you cannot forget to include on your invoice. Make sure your invoice has:

  • Your company name and information (If you’ve included your logo even better!)
  • The buyer’s name and contact info
  • Invoice number (make sure you can keep track!)
  • Invoice Date (What day you sent the invoice to the seller)
  • Description of the product(s) or service(s)
  • Cost of product(s) or service(s)
  • Terms of payment (how long, when, what payment forms taken)
  • An order total
  • Tax (if applicable)
  • Due Date for Payment
  • Notes (throw in a comment thanking them for their business, that’s a nice touch!)

Seems like a lot to include, right? Many invoicing software programs allow you to create a template once that you can then populate with new information each time you use it, saving you time and energy each time.

Have any tips for putting together invoices? Maybe you have a favorite software you use for building out your invoices? Share them in the comments!

Free Invoicing Software for Small Business

Free Invoicing Software for Small Business

Building your business can be hard work and we all no success is no accident. You need to consider early on is how you will not only invoice clients, but how you’ll maintain those records for bookkeeping and tax purposes. You’ll also need to make sure you understand the lingo.

An invoice is nothing more than a document identifying the goods or services with the price, you deliver to your client after you’ve performed the service or given the good. This lets them know that they need to pay you, and this invoice is seen two ways; as the seller this is your sales invoice and to the purchaser this is the product invoice. It is not a receipt, nor a receipt of payment. An invoice can be delivered physically or electronically and there are many software options for you to choose from.

Not to worry though, we’ve compiled a list below of our favorite invoicing software for small businesses.

  1. Wave: At the top of the list is Wave. It’s a favorite of the small business and freelance world because of its ease of use, and the fact that the software is free. Wave makes its money off the processing fees. Wave allows you to set up recurring billing (great for those monthly fees!), payment reminders and to customize the invoice. You’ve got accounting, credit card and bank processing all in one place. Plus, when your business grows you can also use Wave to pay your future employees!
  2. Freshbooks: Merges project management software and accounting software into one. Freshbooks offers a 30-day free trial before you’re asked to pick one of 3 pay models, all of which are reasonably priced. Regardless of the plan you choose, you’ll be able to customize your invoices, send estimates, accept credit cards and be able to track time and import expenses directly into the software. Because of the project management side of things you’ll be able to program project budgets to keep the team on track, have dashboards (which can be customized) and gain insight into your business because of the reports. You can also add team members as needed, for a per user/per month fee.
  3. Zoho: Another web-based service, Zoho works well if you have clients internationally as there are multiple languages and currencies available for invoicing. Use as just your accounting software, or as a CRM, App Creator, Email client and help desk. A significantly scaled down free version exists from their 2 paid options’ but even the free version is great. Zoho really bills itself as the all-in-one for every small businesses needs. Take a 15-day trial run and find out for yourself.

These are by no means all of the software options available out there for small business use. We didn’t cover using a local bookkeeper and instead we chose to highlight the DIY route to cut expenses.

Is there a software you think we should have highlighted? Leave us a comment with what software and why you like it!