The Power of Stories in Sales
He didn’t have a single Powerpoint slide behind him. There were no high-tech visual aids. Just a microphone and a stage. But the audience hung on his every word, many of them literally on the edge of their seats. It wasn’t that he had some special talent or award-winning speaking style. He wasn’t famous or flashy or even that well known. Yet it was as if he was taking the audience on a journey and they wanted to know where it would go next. They not only got his point, they understood where he was coming from. They left feeling connected and energized, empowered to move forward.
TED Talks have captured the attention of millions of people around the world. While the topics vary widely, they often have one thing in common: They weave the power of story into brief, vivid narratives that connect and resonate—and make the listener want to share that story with others. Storytelling isn’t just the domain of TED Talk presenters and novelists, though. It can also be an incredibly valuable consultative selling skill.
Why Consultative Selling Is Better With Stories
Research has shown that your audience is 22 times more likely to remember a story over anything else you communicate with them. That’s because stories put their brain to work and connect on an emotional level. They capture attention in a way all the data dumps and boring Powerpoints that have become so common in business simply can’t.
That’s not to say that you don’t need the data, of course. In fact, smart salespeople know the importance of adapting to the Behavior Styles and interests of different customers to create rapport and build strong relationships. And the reality is, some people are going to be laser-focused on the facts and figures. But no matter who you’re interacting with, storytelling will make your presentations more powerful by keeping the person engaged and triggering them to take action.
Here are five reasons stories are such powerful communication tools in consultative selling:
- It’s how people are used to receiving information. We’re experienced at listening to stories, and we remember things related in a story. If you want customers to remember your company, your brand, your products and services, particularly in today’s noisy world, stories can do the job for you.
- Stories affect us at a physical level and can create a strong, affirmative reaction. Our bodies release hormones that act as “feel-good chemicals” at certain points of a story and as we anticipate the positive conclusion. This can inspire your customers to take action.
- Stories take the data and analytics further. They help the listener identify with the characters and create a human connection. They also allow your prospects to see themselves, their issues and their organization in the picture you paint for them. It makes your solution real and tangible, connecting in a way that the logical arguments can’t always do.
- Our stories shape how others see us. They let people see what we value and understand that we care. And in today’s hyper-competitive market, this matters more than ever. It can be the key differentiator between you and the rest of the field.
- Stories persuade. People are more likely to take action when you use storytelling because they engage on a deeper level. Stories illustrate the points and connect the dots.
Consultative Selling Storytelling Tips
So, how will you bring the power of stories into your consultative selling approach? Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Share a true story that makes a point and reinforces your objective.
- Weave the power of the company’s story into sales conversations.
- Use stories to connect with the customer and illustrate how your products and services fill needs, solve problems and create value. (Pro tip: Use the Gap Model to ask the right questions and identify the issues that must be solved through the story to achieve your customer’s desired situation.)
Look for inspiration in the stories that engage you, whether they’re novels or movies or TED Talks or memorable advertising campaigns. What do those storytellers do particularly well to inspire you? What can you learn from them?
You may not be able to ditch the slides completely, but resist the urge to create yet another dull deck full of boring bulleted lists. Tell a story. Your customers will thank you!
Improve communications and build powerful customer relationships by teaching people the language of Behavior Styles. Find out more about the Behavior Styles Assessment and explore options for rolling it out with your team.