Why Storytelling Is Becoming The #1 Sales Skill To Master

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Businessman holding card saying the power of storytellingAs 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 increase 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 story-telling.

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:

  • How another of your customers had a similar situation to this client and changed it
  • How you’ve helped another customer to deal with a challenge that seemed insurmountable
  • How different types of customers have used similar solutions
  • The results your solution provided for a similar-sized client
  • What the future holds for this customer if they make the right choices

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.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 30 October, 2018

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