People are not ready to understand the logic, they are ready to understand the story.
I still remember my education, where we were the only class in school that emphasized storytelling in the business world, my class, teaching company at the high school of economics. Not as a relationship-building tool, but as a means of creating meaningful messages in sales content. It wasn’t until I entered the work environment that I realized the benefit a good story can have on sales performance. A great story can not only help gather information, but it can also help lead to better dialogue.
I’d like to address the three main strengths of a sales team when it comes to storytelling in sales.
- Telling stories
- Paving the way to potential customer inquiries
- Creating personal connections
The information age we live in today surrounds us with noise. This constant barrage of advertisements inside and outside our workplaces makes it difficult to focus. CEOs and others high up in the company are likely to find that focus is a growing problem. They are inundated with emails and phone calls. More than ever, there is a need to find ways to stand out from the crowd.
Storytelling is one tool that allows you to do this. The experiences we have with stories, beginning as young children, set the conditions in the brain for learning and remembering based on emotional connections to the experience of living, reading, or telling a story.
The concept of storytelling lends itself well to both sales emails and conversations with prospects. For the scenario of the sales message, see the example below, where we have highlighted a sales text without a story and a sales text with a story.
Non-story based sales:
»Our CRM system it can help you increase your sales by up to 29% and your team’s productivity by up to 34%. Our easy-to-use interface allows you to quickly find and update customer information. With our integrations, you will quickly realize that all your conversations, meetings, events and other company activities can be monitored and handled within one software platform.
“Your company reminds me of a small insurance company that I recently helped to become more organized and productive. When they approached us, they were having problems and were considering closing the business. We found that their main weakness was in following up with potential customers and that they even forgot about the offers and agreements already sent with potential customers. Our CRM system allowed their sales team to unite their sales team and our crm system gave them easy access to prospect information.
Although these are not perfect examples, I wanted to show the discrepancy between the two approaches. Highlighting irrelevant statistics can end up discouraging the customer from further conversation. The same can be said for highlighting unnecessary features that a potential buyer may not even need.
See an example based on the story. In the first sentence, I immediately relate the situation to a problem I faced with a previous customer, which adds credibility to our service and helps the customer find common ground. A story sells and allows you to uncover potential business problems and lead to how your product or service solves that problem. I decided not to focus too much on specific features or stats. All of these can come later as the conversation progresses beyond the initial interest. Through the story, the prospect is more likely to remember your product, the solution offered and assign a higher value to it.
The story-based example brings me to the second point I’d like to make, and it paves the way for potential customer inquiries.
Paving the way to potential customer inquiries
The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to ask you questions to think about.
When you’re in contact with a prospect, especially over the phone or in an online meeting, you don’t want the meeting to be one-way. The analysis showed that successful sales representatives with the most closed deals had a speaking ratio of 43:57. This means that the prospect spent most of the time talking.
Storytelling does this by connecting the previous situation to the prospect while creating interest and common talking points where the prospect asks for clarification. Let’s take the example I shared earlier. The lack of detail about how a CRM system allows sales reps to follow up with a prospect more consistently creates questions a prospect might ask, such as:
- How is customer data stored and displayed in the CRM system?
- How are conversations integrated into the CRM system?
- How is the time spent talking recorded?
By telling stories, you can encourage potential customers to ask questions without making the customer feel like they are being interrogated.
Creating personal connections
It’s no secret that selling isn’t just about selling your product, it’s also about selling yourself. Relationships are the foundation of sales, especially when it comes to a business-to-business relationship. Emotions are still the main driver of purchase decisions, and storytelling helps build the foundation for emotional selling.
When selling, it is imperative that it is personal. You don’t have to share your entire life story, but find something in common, like a shared alma mater, location, or family situation. Even if you have nothing in common with the prospect, it’s okay to share a fun story unrelated to your product. Creating that personal connection and proving that you’re not just there to sell can end up being what closes the deal.
There are many resources available to increase your storytelling skills.
For me personally, the best way is to simply find a good TV show, movie or series. When you watch a show, a movie, … pay attention to how the story is being told and repeat that in your sales interactions. Storytelling is hard to master, but focusing on incremental improvement can produce incredible results in sales interactions.
Storytelling is an effective way to communicate ideas, engage audiences and make emotional connections. In a sales context, storytelling can be used to illustrate how a product or service has solved problems or improved the lives of others. By sharing customer stories or case studies, sellers can demonstrate the value of their offering in a more relatable and compelling way. Storytelling can also help build trust and credibility with potential customers by allowing salespeople to share their own experiences and expertise. In addition, storytelling can help differentiate a product or service from the competition by highlighting its unique features and benefits.
Storytelling is a powerful sales tool because it helps connect with customers on an emotional level. When you tell a story, you can engage your audience by creating a narrative they can follow and relate to. This can be particularly effective in the sales process as it allows you to convey information in a way that is more engaging and memorable than simply listing facts and features.
There are several ways salespeople can use storytelling to their advantage. One approach is to share customer stories or case studies that illustrate how a product or service has benefited others. This can be especially effective if the customer is someone the prospect can relate to, or if the customer has experienced a problem that the prospect is also facing. By showing how your product or service has helped others, you can demonstrate the value and relevance of your offering.
Storytelling can also be used to establish trust and credibility with potential customers. For example, if you have personal experience with a product or service, you can share your story to show how it helped you or someone you know. This can help build rapport with the prospect and demonstrate your expertise and understanding of the product.
Another way you can use storytelling in sales is to differentiate your product or service from the competition. By highlighting the unique features and benefits of your offering and sharing stories that illustrate these points, you can help potential customers understand why your product or service is the best choice.
Overall, storytelling is a valuable sales tool because it allows you to engage and connect with prospects in a way that is more compelling and memorable than simply stating facts and figures. By sharing stories that illustrate the value and relevance of your product or service, you can build trust and credibility with potential customers and differentiate your offering from the competition.
There are a few key ways to use storytelling effectively in the sales process:
1.Identify a Relatable Problem or Challenge: Start your story by identifying a problem or challenge that the prospect can relate to. This helps engage the customer and create a sense of empathy.
2. Explain how your product or service solved the problem: Once you’ve identified the problem, explain how your product or service helped solve it. Be specific and use specific examples to illustrate your point.
3. Include emotional elements: Adding emotional elements to your story can help create a deeper connection with your prospect. For example, you can share how your product or service has improved someone’s quality of life or helped them achieve a personal goal.
4. Use imagery and descriptive language: Use descriptive language and vivid imagery to help your prospect visualize your story and make it more compelling.
5. End with a call to action: When you share your story, end with a call to action that prompts the prospect to take the next step, whether it’s scheduling a presentation or making a purchase.
By following these guidelines, you can effectively use storytelling to engage and persuade prospects into the sales process.
Here are some additional tips for using storytelling in sales:
1.Practice Your Storytelling Skills: Like any skill, storytelling takes practice to perfect. Consider practicing your stories beforehand so you can deliver them smoothly and effectively.
2. Use different types of stories: There are many different types of stories you can use in sales, such as customer success stories, case studies, and personal anecdotes. Mixing up the types of stories you use can help keep things interesting and engaging for potential customers.
3. Keep it concise: While storytelling is an effective way to engage your audience, it’s important to keep your stories concise and to the point. Avoid rambling or rambling and focus on the key points you want to get across.
4. Keep it relevant: Make sure your stories are relevant to the prospect and their needs. Tailoring your stories to your prospect’s specific interests and challenges can make them more impactful and persuasive.
5. Use storytelling throughout the sales process: Don’t just save your stories for the final pitch. Consider incorporating storytelling into different stages of the sales process, such as during initial conversations or during product presentations. This can help retain the prospect and build a stronger connection with them.
There are a few additional strategies you can use to improve the effectiveness of your sales storytelling:
1.Use storytelling to build rapport: By sharing personal stories or anecdotes, you can build rapport with your prospect and create a sense of trust and connection.
2. Use storytelling to establish your expertise: Sharing stories about your experiences and successes can help establish your expertise and credibility in the eyes of potential clients.
3. Use storytelling to differentiate your offering: By highlighting the unique features and benefits of your product or service through storytelling, you can differentiate your offering from the competition and help a potential customer see the value in choosing your company.
4. Use storytelling to illustrate the potential impact of your product or service: By sharing stories about how your product or service has positively impacted others, you can help your prospect imagine the potential benefits they could experience by using your offering.
5. Use storytelling to address objections: If the prospect has expressed any objections or concerns, you can use storytelling to address those issues and provide reassurance. For example, if a prospect is concerned about the cost of your product, you can share a story about how it has helped other customers save money in the long run.