Storytelling has been an important part of the evolution and survival of humans. We’re the only creatures on this planet (that we know of) that think, plan, organize, and act in story.
When we get home from work, we’re asked by our partners, “How was your day?” Then we tell a story of each moment that impacted our day. When we’re hanging out with our friends, we tell stories. When we want to veg out and get away from it all, we listen to or watch stories (movies, books, music). Stories are so natural and so much a part of our lives.
But, as soon as we step across the threshold into business communication, a weird switch gets triggered in most people. This makes storytelling not come as naturally because most of us are overthinking how we have to communicate, sound, or look in a professional setting.
If you’re one of those people overthinking storytelling in business or are unsure how to use it, you’re in luck. Keep reading to discover why using storytelling in sales is so effective and how to get your salespeople onboard (or listen to this conversation I had with my friend Park Howell on the Expert Series of Sales Talk for CEOs).
Why Story Is Important
As Simon Sinek once said, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
A CEO’s ‘why’ is just as important to their employees as to their customers. So, it starts there. Most CEOs convey that ‘why’ by telling their story. They tell this story to their internal team members so they understand the why and the vision.
Once their internal team understands the why/story, (hopefully) they believe what the CEO believes and understand the spirit that will move the company forward. When everyone in the company knows the story, it is easier to communicate it to others: employees, candidates, vendors, existing customers, and prospective customers.
As my friend Park put it, “When you hear a founder’s story, you get to see into that person, into their soul, into what makes them tick. It’s like you get a front seat, and in it, you build trust, you build belief.“
Using Storytelling in Sales
Today most companies know that cold calling is NOT providing great results. Cold calling with a combination of other touchpoints like email, mail, video mail, LinkedIn, events, etc., works if there is a good story to tell (from the customers’ point of view). The story is what is missing in most cases, or it is flat out wrong because it is all about the company and what they sell.
There are two critical things sales and marketing teams need to remember when utilizing storytelling in sales conversations to get a prospect’s attention:
- The story isn’t about you; it’s about your prospect.
- Your story isn’t about what you make, but what you make happen.
Got it? It’s not about you; it’s about your prospect and how you can improve their life.
So great, we know story works for sales if we tell the right story. The problem is that the salespeople don’t know the story and are not natural at using storytelling in sales. You have to teach them to do it, and you need a framework they can work from.
I LOVE the one I learned from Park Howell, the “and-but-therefore” methodology.
It’s important that salespeople, or anyone customer-facing, can share the story in the right format, at the right time, in the right way. Everyone telling the story should sound like they’re singing from the same song sheet, although each individual brings his or her creativity and feeling to the story. Frameworks are the only way to make that happen because everybody learns the elements and in which order to tell, so the story impacts those it’s told to.
Share Your Story!
I can personally attest to the power of storytelling in sales because I’ve seen incredible results from it in my own business and with my clients, from the CEO to the finance team, to the ops team, to the customer success team, to the sales team, and beyond. Storytelling works internally and externally to make your company a better place to work and do business with.
If you’re a CEO interested in using storytelling in sales, start today. Get your story straight and tell it. If you need ideas, follow Park Howell and use all the resources on his site www.thebusinessofstory.com and listen to his podcast, or better yet, call him or me, and we will help you make an impact like you have never seen before.
Alice is nationally known for her expertise in elevating sales to increase valuation for companies with a B2B complex sale that have exceptional growth potential. She’s originally, from the widely known Miller Heiman Group. Spending her time strategizing with CEOs and their leadership teams to build the strategies that find new business and grow existing accounts is her passion. Her clients love her spirit and the way she energizes their sales organization.