Written by Sean McPheat |
If you want to create a true emotional connection with your prospects and clients, then I recommend that you improve storytelling skills. Indeed, in my opinion sales storytelling can be your superpower and really separate you apart from your competition.
But most of us have not been told how to tell a story. We’re including it more and more in the Selling Skills Training that we run but apart from that I can never remember in the whole of my commercial career, being told how to tell a story.
For me, sales storytelling is all about linking the needs and wants of our buyers to what we are selling in an interesting, visual and emotional way that touches their heart as well as their mind. This can include any background to your company and your products and services, relevant case studies and customer stories – anything to bring it all to life.
As we were growing up, one of our fondest memories is often associated with sitting on our parent’s knee, being read a story. It created that initial and long-lasting bond between us. Maybe we were intrigued by a fairy tale or inspired by a true story of courage and bravery.
Whatever it was, the fact we were regaled with a story gave us a taste for using our imagination.
It added spice to our lives and helped us look at life with all its rich colour and vitality.
We can remember how we felt when we were young, and we can also bring those feelings to our customers now that were are adults.
You see, stories are one of the best ways to establish an emotional connection with our customers.
Giving logical, fact-based presentations may appeal to one part of the customer’s decision-making process, but the impact is increased manifold by an intriguing and engaging anecdote.
As humans, our default mental network revolves around what is known as our ‘narrative’ network.
It all stems from our childhood when we learned language, not through classroom lessons, but through listening and copying our parent’s and sibling’s conversations.
Our brains think in concepts, so we reflect on our past and focus on our futures. In a strict sense, we are forging stories for ourselves.
This ‘narrative’ reflects the way our brains navigate the world.
It gives us all a sense of social cohesion. When we are with a group of friends and one of us starts telling a story, we all tend to stop to listen, imagining ourselves in the situation and wondering what we would have done in the same position.
The most intriguing thing about stories is that it triggers our emotional response and increases our receptiveness to information.
We often hear a story and try to link it with our own lives or our businesses. We become more engaged and receptive to what’s being spoken about.
But we’re not talking here about just telling stories for stories’ sake.
If we are to really connect with our customer, we must tell stories that relate to them or their business.
Psychologist Melanie Green says that prior knowledge and experience can influence the acceptance and effect of a story on a person and will affect the immersion of someone in the storytelling.
Another interesting point is that we are drawn to stories that are not only relevant to us, but also to those in our social group.
For example, if we read something online that we think our team members would be interested in, we tend to remember it better, so that we can share it with our team later that day.
If we decide that the story is worth retelling, our interest intensifies and our learning and memory increases.
Melanie Green also says that our minds are more susceptible to influence if they are in story-telling mode, rather than in an analytical mode.
If you can illustrate the points you wish to make to a customer with stories, they are far more likely to be remembered than if they were plain facts.
Another reason to bring in stories or anecdotes is that more of the brain is being utilised to assimilate the information it is absorbing, so more of the ideas discussed are likely to be remembered.
So, stories make a presentation come alive, but what should they include?
Simple facts aren’t enough, so bring your discussions to a different conscious level by including things like:
Get your customer to use their imagination, rather than just stating facts, features and benefits about your products.
Make the story relevant and informative to this specific customer, as they are more likely to see themselves in the same position as it relates to their business.
Stories, then, make your presentations rise above the boring, fact-based, tedious pitches that many salespeople submit their customers to.
If you can tap into those parts of the brain that your customers use to imagine a better future, you create reasons for them to see that future in a way that involves your solution.
You can also tell stories when asking for referrals and when using sales closing transition statements. These moments of truth are so important and hence need some thought around them. I’d never tell a story when asking for the sale though as ideally you want to keep discussions to a minimum and focus the chat around how to move forward rather than if.
Please check out our Online Sales Training solutions for more ways on how to improve your storytelling.
Updated on: 30 October, 2018
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