Skip to main content

Using Storytelling for a More Compelling Sales Conversation

Improving win rate

using storytelling in sales conversations

ben-taylorJune 15, 2018Blog

Share on LinkedInShare on TwitterShare on Facebook

How do you connect with millions of people – all motivated by different things – in just a few minutes? You tell a story.

In a recent letter to shareholders, Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, delivered a message with a story. He tells readers of a friend attempting the perfect handstand. “No leaning against a wall. Not for just a few seconds. Instagram good,” he explained. He spoke of a friend who learned they would need weeks of regular practice to make a perfect handstand look easy.

Bezos was sharing a narrative about the perils of unrealistic expectations. It’s critical that a person, or a team, is realistic about the work that will be required to achieve a goal. The story also served as an example of how effective communicators connect with listeners. Bezos explains that meetings in his office don’t unfold with slides. Instead, presenters “write narratively structured six-page memos.”

The reason: stories are an appeal to our emotions, and emotions drive action.

Building your sales organization's ability to use storytelling in their conversations with customers will enhance your team's ability to communicate, connect, and ultimately, compel customers.

Why Storytelling Matters for Sales Professionals

Customers differ. In the span of a year, month, or even day, sales professionals encounter customers of all personalities. All have unique needs and leanings.

This presents the sales professional with the challenge of repeatedly tailoring their message to each individual customer. Storytelling solves this problem because stories resonate with everyone. This is because stories are part of our evolutionary inheritance.

These are the five reasons why storytelling matters to the modern sales professional:

  1. Stories Make Sense Out of Information: Solutions have become more nuanced. They are granular in their list of capabilities. As a result, they have become more complex making their underlying value difficult for customers to understand. We need meaning to correctly understand the value of a solution. In fact, stories are so useful at threading meaning through otherwise disparate pieces that they can do so even when no meaning exists.
  2. Stories Create an Emotional Connection with the Customer: Emotion is necessary to encode a memory. Stories drive the emotions that help sales professionals earn a place in the customer’s world. Often, it’s easy for a sales professional to resort to cataloging product features rather than taking the time to establish a connection. Sales professionals who do make an effort to connect using stories see lasting benefits.
  3. Stories Focus the Customer's Attention on What is Important: Customers want a solution that either addresses a problem or helps them accelerate towards a goal. When listening to a sales professional, they are searching for that singular characteristic that speaks to their needs. Effective sales professionals seize that opportunity by drawing the customer’s attention to the aspect of the solution that most directly addresses the customer’s top priority or that highlights the solution’s key differentiator. Stories are effective in this context because they represent a simplified template in which the sales professional must edit their messaging to only the pieces that fit a narrative structure. Doing so helps keep the delivery tight. The absence of structure invites opportunities to “tack on” additional product features that distract from the core message.
  4. Stories Provide a Vision of What is Possible: Stories are effective at turning what is theoretical into something practical. That is, they offer a clear example of how a solution will unfold. Technical details provide a blueprint, but a story gives you the house. The visual properties of a story are not only helpful, they’re necessary. Stories cast the sales professional and the customer in the same narrative, which creates a picture of cooperation.
  5. Stories Make What You Say Memorable: Story structure varies, but they all share a common characteristic, each features a progression in which one part connects to the next. This chain of linear progression makes it easy to retain critical takeaways. When sales professionals commit to this model, they keep the customer’s attention focused on a path that ends with a resolution that has one interpretation. This consolidated approach offers simplicity that’s memorable.

How Effective Sales Professionals use Stories

At its core, storytelling seeks to engage. However, effective storytelling requires more than fulfilling a template. The most effective storytellers understand and adhere to the precepts of behavioral science. Following these 3 simple rules will help your sellers start selling better with storytelling.

  1. Leverage the power of conflict and the turning point
  2. Use descriptive language
  3. Build stories around a narrative structure that resonates
If you would like to enable your sales professionals with the process and skills to tell a great story that will lead to more closed business, please contact us or download our White Paper: Storytelling for a More Compelling Connection to learn more.
Share on LinkedInShare on TwitterShare on Facebook
storytelling sales presentations training

Storytelling Training Program Brochure

Learn more about this program that helps sales teams incorporate storytelling into their customer conversations to improve clarity & impact.

Download

View recent thought leadership

agile selling skills

Brief: How Agile Sales Professionals Use Sprints to Target, Message, and Engage Prospects

Download this brief to learn how Sprint Prospecting™ enables agility that quickly gets to the core of the customer’s needs.

Article

evidence-based solution selling training for healthcare

Brief: Engaging Healthcare Professionals with Agile Messaging

Discover three ways sellers can deliver meaningful messaging to HCPs to gain access while staying in compliance.

Article

successful virtual selling

Brief: Gaining Virtual Access to Healthcare Professionals

Download the brief to learn how healthcare sales professionals can front-load their efforts so their first outreach sparks interest.

Article

Solutions You Might Be Interested In