Want to crush your quarterly sales quota? Add some storytelling sauce to your sales pitch.
How Can You Use Storytelling to Sell?
Storytelling can help you hit your sales quotas faster. It works because people love hearing about characters who face and overcome challenges.
It’s what makes a TED Talk go viral. And why you might get misty-eyed when you hear an old love song.
Telling your stories and the stories of others humanizes your selling and makes connections with prospects more meaningful (and productive).
That said, for some, telling a good story comes naturally. For others, storytelling might feel as abstract as it did in middle school English class.
In today’s post, discover why storytelling is essential to sales and get simple, actionable tips (and an example) for making storytelling part of your sales strategy.
Your prospects Are Wired for Storytelling
Storytelling is truly an art form, but actual science explains why the human brain loves stories.
For instance, a Hubspot infographic illustrates how storytelling activates seven regions of the brain (including sensory areas such as visual, auditory, and olfactory).
Conversely, data only activates two brain regions.
From movement to language processing and comprehension, stories ignite our imaginations and help us empathize with the characters and their struggles.
And that makes sales pitches more engaging – for both you and your prospects.
PRO TIP: Add some zip to your pitch by replacing product-centered terms with customer-centered action words: “Our software is best-in-class” becomes “Our software will boost your sales.”
Storytelling Makes Sales Memorable
Besides resonating with an audience on a deeper level, storytelling is also an opportunity for you to get creative with your sales pitch and bring some personality to what you are selling.
Think about the kind of sales pitch you’d want to hear: Do you want to listen to a bunch of bland industry-related stats?
Or, would you like to hear about a real-life scenario when the product helped make someone’s life easier or better?
Use case studies or customer testimonials to tell your story. Which might go like this:
“Our customer Max at X Enterprise sells manufacturing software. He started using our service several months ago. He told me the other day that their sales productivity is way up, and they’re doing 10 times more demos. Plus, his reps love the all-in-one, mobile-friendly dashboard.”
Storytelling like this delivers visual, relatable outcomes for prospects (in the form of increased sales productivity and demos).
And telling the story through characters (such as Max and his reps) makes the pitch more compelling than just data and stats.
5 Tips For Putting Storytelling Punch Into Your Sales Strategy
You don’t have to be a great writer or creative genius to use storytelling in sales. All it takes is a little strategy and practice.
1. Get Your Storytelling Basics Down
Most stories have a clear introduction, middle, and conclusion. This structure makes the story straightforward and easy to follow.
Also, your story must focus on your prospect’s journey. Create your pitch using the following as your guide:
- Who is the main character?
- What main challenge does the character face?
- How will the character overcome the challenge?
(See an example at the end of the post.)
2. Determine the Takeaway
Knowing your endgame will make building out the framework for the story easier.
What’s the key takeaway you want the listener to get after you finish your story?
Or, why should your customer care?
An answer might go like this: The prospective customer will care because, by the end of the story, they’ll see how our product will improve their closing speed.
3. Get Your Prospect’s Attention (and Hold It)
Stories must be captivating and informative. Put yourself in the listener’s shoes and ask yourself if this is a story you’d want to hear.
Use familiar (not-boring) phrases, and keep the language short and punchy.
When you’re telling a story, you need to remove any complications or barriers that will prevent prospects from understanding the overall objective: to sell your product!
4. Personalize Your Sales Story
This is probably the most crucial part of storytelling. It takes a little work but pays off big when you are closing deals.
Use past clients’ experiences (such as case studies) to tailor the message to your prospect.
Also, check industry changes that could impact your prospect’s business and weave that information into your story.
In a press release, did they announce a recent merger? Mentioning the change creates a more meaningful pitch.
5. Practice Your Story Out Loud
Whether you’re sending an email or doing a cold call, you must read your story out loud — practice it — to ensure it feels natural for you and sounds authentic to your listener.
Practice it as if you’re talking to your target prospect. That way, you’ll pick up on awkward language that can make your pitch seem robotic.
The more you practice, the more confident you’ll sound — even when pitching your most challenging prospects.
Storytelling in Sales Example
Here’s what your story might sound like using the above tips.
Beginning: The Main character is Jack, VP of Sales.
“Jack, I see your org recently upgraded your CRM. How is that going for you and your sales team?”
Middle: The challenge the character faces.
“One of the challenges of managing a CRM is keeping it flush with accurate data. Maybe you’ve experienced this: Your sales reps waste a ton of time researching dead-end contacts when they could be closing deals.”
Conclusion: How the character overcomes the challenge
“You’ve invested in a great CRM. But it’s only as good as the data going into it. In fact, we recently helped a VP of Sales in a similar industry 10 X their productivity.
Their sales team is selling like crazy. They’re pretty happy. I know we can do the same for you.”
Make Storytelling Part of Your Sales Process
Great storytelling in sales isn’t complicated – it’s all about being authentic and communicating how your product can help people in real-world scenarios.
The key is to make your prospect the focus of the story (i.e., the main character).
Also, show how your product or service will help solve your prospect’s business problem, using case studies and customer stories.
Don’t forget to personalize your pitch by researching their company or industry and bringing that information into the story.
Finally, knock your pitch out of the park by practicing your customer-centered, personalized sales stories out loud.