How to Leverage Storytelling for Sales Professionals

    The best salespeople have always known that it’s the art of making a human connection through telling a story rather than presenting facts and figures that help to close deals. Even so, weaving a story into the sales narrative isn’t always easy. That is because the customer needs to be hero of the story, and the product or brand needs to be a supporting character.

    A Shift in Thinking to Supporting the Customer’s Success

    Once salespeople understand that their job is to support the customer’s success, it often brings a dramatic change to the way they think about interactions with customers. Rather than trying to meet their own agenda, salespeople need to take the time to learn more about the customer’s pain points, unique perspective, and specific needs. Salespeople working in the role of supportive character are much more likely to ask leading questions that inspire meaningful conversation rather than talking about the benefits of the brand or product.

    Why Storytelling is So Successful

    Research from the London School of Business confirms that people remember up to 70 percent of what they hear in a story but only up to 10 percent of what they hear in a presentations of facts and statistics. That is because stories appeal to people on an emotional level. A salesperson who can tell a compelling story is much more likely to have a prospect remember him or her throughout the multi-visit process of closing a deal.

    Perhaps the most important benefit of storytelling is that it helps prospects visualizes themselves using a company’s product or service. One way to help bring about this visualization is for sales professionals to tell a story about the success that another client experienced when using the same item or service the prospect is considering buying. Walking the prospect through a typical day while addressing most of his or her pain points can be a highly successful tactic as well.

    Tips for Telling a Great Story

    The most successful stories in sales focus on the customer and use a three-layered approach that includes a background, challenge, and solution. Too many salespeople start with the ending to emphasize how they have the solution without addressing the customer’s background and current challenges. It also needs to include a large amount of personal experiences from other characters that the prospect can easily relate to.

    While the salesperson should include details about the main character’s struggle, he or she should avoid telling the prospect specific actions to take. People dislike having their free agency taken from them, especially before the narrative has reached a point of deciding anything. Instead, it’s the salesperson’s job to present solutions. The salesperson should show the prospect, not tell him or her, how the future can be better by implementing the company’s product or service into everyday life at the office.

    Storytelling is an art that requires plenty of practice. Salespeople should not be afraid to practice in front of a manager or co-worker and ask for honest feedback on how to improve.

    (Image Credit: Used with permission via / nito500)