Mark Norman: Storyteller

Differentiate Group Co-Founder Mark Norman is a storyteller. He’s taught, coached and trained sales and customer service professionals and business leaders for more than 35 years. And he’s found that a good story is often more effective than any training manual.

Storytelling, Mark says, is one approach that makes Differentiate Group, well, different.

“We’re in a people business and stories connect on so many levels,” Mark says. “As kids, many of us began learning with great books like Goodnight Moon and not the Goodnight Moon Manual to Life. That’s why for my audiences, I can put bullet points on a slide or I can tell an inspirational story about real sales people overcoming real challenges. The story sticks. The bullet points tend to be forgotten.”

Mark and lifelong friend Scott Laun founded Differentiate Group in 2011, following successful careers at Dale Carnegie Training. At Dale Carnegie, the two owned and operated award-winning franchises in three states and established a reputation for substance over style.

Mark says early on he and Scott established “street cred” with business clients who saw how investing in developing their people, teams and leadership improved sales performance and helped drive company growth.

Clients also appreciated Mark and Scott’s tough-love message: that true change didn’t happen overnight. That workshops alone didn’t complete the task. That human nature often reverts to former bad practices as soon as workshop facilitators leave and Monday morning reality settles in.

“True behavioral transformation takes time,” Mark says. “That’s the message. Our ideal client relationship is long term, up to 12 months. We like to teach, monitor, come back in, and coach until we truly drive excellence into everyday actions. That way we can truly help our clients differentiate by delivering a superior customer experience.”

One client – accustomed to check-the-box cookie-cutter programs from other training firms – was impressed that Mark cared so much about her project’s success. She remembered when Mark returned to coach sales reps on the new process the company had rolled out. Mark walked the team through the process in a live situation, then donned a headset, took live customer calls, followed the new steps and converted five of five opportunities.

Another client echoed the respect for Mark’s relentless commitment to excellence: “Mark measures success not so much by what he earns as by the difference he makes in the lives and business of his clients.”

Mark says: “Differentiate Group is different. We don’t believe in hurrying through a session, selling books from the back of the room, loving our clients, collecting a check, then leaving. We’re confident in what we do. We know our approach works, we know how to do this and most of all, we believe in the potential of people to be great.”

And for Mark, every successful project becomes source material for his next great story.