What to Ditch at the Door:

By / Corporate Storytelling

What to Ditch at the Door:

“We’ve done this before.”

Stop. Don’t say it again. That phrase is currently one of the most overused when sales professionals are advocating and it is utterly meaningless to a client.

So what? You have done this before. Big deal. But how do we know it went well? How does a client know it delivered any kind of results or outcomes they might be remotely interested? How is this phrase relevant to them?

Here’s the catch. It doesn’t work.

Clients don’t care about past performance. Clients care about past success.

And that’s a tremendous distinction.

Everyone they are considering has “done this before” – or they wouldn’t be talking to them. But when you have successfully delivered real outcomes – things that can actually be measured – then you are suddenly talking a language that clients will understand and, more importantly, a language they can use to inform decisions.

So how do you stop yourself from uttering these meaningless words in client presentations and sales conversations?

Change it up. Re-frame it. Instead of “We’ve done this before, try”, “Let me tell you where we have delivered results like this before…” and then go on and give the relevant example. Be sure to include a metric, connecting it to something of value that your current audience cares about.

Then attach your past success to the differentiator that made these results possible. You don’t want the client to think that just anyone can deliver these results. Distinguish your past success through real differentiators, ones that deliver real outcomes.

But that stale, overused “We’ve done this before” line isn’t the only thing needing to be ditched.

Cue the logo slide.

You know the one. It is a special PowerPoint slide that is in every single client presentation.

It is covered with the logos of all the clients you have done business within the past 20 years. This logo confetti is the media version of, “We’ve done this before.”

And your client audience will just yawn and think, “So what?”

Best to drop this slide from your next presentation. Instead, pick a relevant client reference and tell a story about how you delivered measurable results that had a material impact on their business.

The differentiator and the distinct client reference both demonstrate past success, not just past performance, and that really sells.

Corporate Storytelling Makes it to More Than One Million Views on TED.com:

Nagin Cox is a first-generation Martian. She is also a TEDx Talk alum and the latest Corporate Storytelling success.

Nagin Cox – Martian

TEDx events. Nagin’s talk was so popular that TED.com bumped it up to the main TED.com website and since then her talk has racked up an impressive 1.4 million views. Watch the full presentation and see if you can spot the ingredients of persuasion – frames, evidence, topics. Articulus provided coaching for her TEDx talk using the Storyboard framework as a guide.

As a spacecraft engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Nagin works on the team that manages the United States’ rovers on Mars. But working a nine-to-five on another planet – one which has a workday 40 minutes longer than Earth’s – has particular and often comical challenges.

Video not loading? Click here to watch the video to find out more.

And Finally:

We leave you with our latest example headline (Frame-Benefits-Topic).


Frame (Bring M&Ms with you)

(Have a jar or bowl of M&Ms. Take one M&M out and place it on the table. Let’s say it’s the green one in this picture)

“This green M&M represents a measurement you took at 8 am when the first shift arrived.” (Pull out one more M&M. Let’s say it is the red one in this image.)

“This red M&M represents the measurement the second shift took at 8 pm.” (Then pull out the jar of M&Ms)

“This jar of M&Ms represents everything that went on with your equipment today between 8 AM and 8 PM. Do these two M&MS, or measurements, accurately represent what happened with the equipment over the course of the day? Does that accurately represent what is currently happening with that equipment right now?”

(Place the bowl/jar of M&Ms next to the two M&Ms)

“Two M&Ms alone may not give you the complete picture of what’s in the jar. This jar more accurately represents what is happening over the course of the day and you can then make better and more informed decisions about actions to take because you have a complete picture.”


“You want to increase production and & reduce downtime by avoiding problems in the plant and proactively managing your equipment. That is achieved by making accurate decisions regarding operations and maintenance. To do that, you need more data from your equipment, and you need that data in real-time. To get that, you need…”


“Real-Time Measurement Capabilities”

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