Whether you are a sales leader supporting your team or simply trying to close more deals, there is a powerful skill you may not have considered: story selling. Telling a story is an engaging communication approach that delivers your message and influences buyers.
A good story achieves two things that facts alone do not:
- Stories provide context
- Stories connect to emotion
Cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner suggests that stories are retained up to 22 times better than facts. His research suggests that if you share a story, prospects are much more likely to be persuaded. If you are only relying on facts and data, then you might struggle to influence buyers.
But what if you enhanced your numbers-based presentation with a few concise stories?
Take a client success story, for example. You and your sales team hit a recent project out of the park, which resulted in significant revenue impact. Your client was thrilled, and you were able to get a testimonial from them.
Sharing this client success story with a prospect will be more relatable than revenue numbers alone.
4 types of stories you should tell
Kellogg Sales Institute founder Craig Wortmann explains that the story you share depends on your prospect or client. In his book What's Your Story? Wortmann outlines 4 types of stories:
- Success (to motivate and inspire)
- Failure (to connect people and build trust)
- Fun (to encourage laughter, not to distract)
- Legends (Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, Nordstrom etc.)
Be prepared with several different types of stories so that you can choose the right story, for the right person, at the right time.
Keep the story concise
The story also becomes a tool that a potential customer can share with his or her boss in order to sell the idea internally. It is the vehicle for communicating your process, your solution, the benefit of choosing you as a provider, and the company’s ability to deliver results.
To leverage the power of story selling, you will need to distill information into a relevant story that is easy to remember and share.
Develop your story matrix
Watch Craig Wortmann explain how to develop a story matrix:
Once you are comfortable with the type of story that can be told in a sales or leadership context, think about the specific situations where you would share them – networking events, project pitch meetings, cold calling, etc. These compelling stories influence people to act and help you establish valuable connections.