article | June 6, 2015
Storytelling for Sales Success
The well-told tale gets a response – maybe a gasp, maybe a laugh. It’s a campfire staple. And among those who know its power, storytelling also lives in the sales interaction. It’s a great sales tool and works with any product.
You may not realize it, but you are a storyteller. You can write your own tale of sales success. In this post, we’ll help you draw out and polish your storytelling ability.
You may not realize it, but you are a storyteller.
Look how it works in this example:
David is a rep for Cutler’s, a building supplies company. He sells lumber, wallboard, hardware – pretty much everything that goes into a house. One of his regulars, Raymond, is a builder who also repairs and remodels homes. Dave always gets it right. Still, this time, Ray asks twice: Will it be there when I need it?
Dave, talking later to another contractor, tells the tale. . . .
Ray’s company, Built to Last (Hero), is working on a big neighborhood renewal project. The work will be going on around people’s daily lives. No wonder he’s nervous about his materials getting there on time. He has to keep things moving, minimize disruption. The wood was delivered to the job site a few days before the start date. Everything was great. Everybody was happy. At first, anyway. . . .
Here’s another resource to help you sharpen your storytelling talents. Get our Guide to Better Storytelling for tips on selling with stories.
How does telling stories fit into the sales process? Can this really help you make your number? Stories make people think and feel. They bring the teller and the listener together and establish a connection. Throughout history, storytellers have amused, instructed, and persuaded. Scheherazade preserved her own life with the tales of 1,001 Nights.
6 Reasons Why Exceptional Storytelling Works
Imagine your effectiveness with these 6 benefits – in story form – built into your pitch.
Ray’s job is a row of run-down houses facing the river. They’re well built, but they’re old, and a lot of the wood needs replacing. He’s a stickler for the best materials. That’s why he relies on us. Along with the service. That would become important. . . .
Story Science: Stimulating the Emotional Side of the Brain
Ever feel yourself nodding off during a boring presentation? The presenter has reached the Broca’s area of the brain. That’s where we handle language and logic.
But a storyteller who incorporates meaning and imagery turns on the drama. Now both sides of the brain are active. The story taps into emotion, and that is gripping.
Business StorytellingA variety of story types serves sales well, each suited for making particular points. Match story type to situation to prompt a customer action or provoke a feeling. Here are four favorites:
Work started on a Monday morning. That afternoon, the weather (Stimulus) arrived. Big storms fired up. It rained hard all night and the next day. The river rose, streams overflowed, muddy water crept up the front yards. Ray found his neatly stacked lumber submerged. The next morning, it was gone, washed away (Conflict). The flood stopped at the homes’ porch steps. So no new house damage, but the project’s in limbo. . . .
Storytelling: Know Your Cue
The best stories get the best response when you have the best timing. If you try to wedge your story into the wrong moment, it feels forced. Here are some excellent storytelling opportunities:
Ray was pretty rattled. He didn’t see how he was going to get the job done. But we assured him we would duplicate his order and get it there. Everything was fine. Well, almost everything. . . .
Build a Great Story A winning sales call includes specific elements. So does a winning story. Build yours knowledgeably and carefully. Here’s what you need to succeed:
We run our own trucks. Ray likes his good lumber, we like reliable delivery. The shipment got within half a mile of its destination. The road was closed – covered with flood debris. Ed shut down the company for a day. He sent our three stockroom guys and me to meet the truck. Ray spotted us carrying boards to the job site (Crossroad). He couldn’t believe it. Today, there’s a group photo of our sweaty, successful group on Ray’s office wall. The same picture is on Ed’s wall.
Moral of the story: Customers can be confident. Dave’s story illustrates ability to fill the need – twice – and deliver – literally – on promises. On the strength of this story, he makes other sales.
Download the Guide to Better Storytelling to help improve your storytelling efforts. The Guide also serves as a central storehouse for your best stories. As you improve your storytelling it becomes an asset to reuse down the road.