The role of storytelling in sales
Emotions in the sales process
Is this perhaps related to the quality of the products/services? Nope. It´s directly linked to the marketing and communication approach.
When the Apple Watch came out customers cued up in front of the closed store to be one of the first to get one. The secret of successful companies like Apple is storytelling and how they utilize it to trigger emotions in the prospects and clients.
Pictures form in our minds when we listen to a story. Pictures are easier to memorize than text and dry facts.
“A picture is worth 1000 words”
Very few people use this principle in their corporate communication or sales presentation. We know the power of story since we were kids. We wanted to hear “good night stories.” Or we wanted to hear the same story over and over again – even though we knew it inside out. Still it kept fascinating us.
Researchers say that the power of story was of high importance to the evolutionary process. Seafarers discussed the stories of the day at campfires. Caveman carved and printed their stories to the cave walls.
Most managers and salespeople would probably have more than one interesting story to tell. But most do not take advantage of that potential.
Thinking of exceptionally successful brands, we will probably remember the ones with an interesting company story first. Who does not know the story of Johnny Walker, for instance, the man who walked around the world?
Or how about the story of a single mother on welfare, J. K. Rowling who sold her first Harry Potter book for the equivalent of $ 4000?
Stories like this upgrade every website or image brochure and have a lot of persuasive power. They create the feeling of sympathy, proximity and authenticity.
Stories of entrepreneurs about their road to success rarely fail to impress. They arouse the curiosity to learn more about the company and its products. The boss is the one that can sell the company and its products best.
Good stories about the product are more convincing than a list of features. And they are easier to memorize and identify with. A great product story educates me on the benefits of a product for me and does not list features I cannot relate to.
Nobody wants to be told what to do. Educational stories help companies to influence clients without coming across as giving a lecture. We know from fairy tales how we can influence change through the use of educational stories.
An excellent example of an educational story was Apple´s campaign when they launched their tablet. They wanted the customer to understand what the tablet can do and more importantly what the tablet does not need to do. Apple put the information they wanted to convey into a telltale.
Connective stories connect people. The same interests, pain, and worries create trust and are an efficient conversation starter.
Stories to overcome objections
Stories help to create a solid foundation of confidence and trust and can be used to overcome objections and other obstacles.
This type of story is of particular importance for sales professions and companies with “bad reputation”. Car salesmen and insurance agents are two kinds of salespeople who can benefit greatly from this type of story.
Once more I´d like to quote Apple. When Steve Jobs was struggling to close Pepsi Cola, he said:
“Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?”
Arguments do not reach further than our intellectual brain. A good story goes way further and more deeply.
The best stories are being told by people who are not afraid to show their vulnerability. Struggles, passion …. the “valley of tears” – and how someone overcame the struggles. That is what we like to hear. We see ourselves in the stories, they are more believable than “superstar” stories, we can identify and connect emotionally with the story teller.
To say it in Mike Bosworth´ words: People make emotional decisions for rational reasons.
If you do not reach people on an emotional level they will have to think about making a decision. As long as they are busy thinking they will not make any decision.
Storytelling with the intention of tending
In direct sales even more important than being a good storyteller is the art of story tending. We use story to speed up the process of trust and create an emotional connection so that the prospect/buyer will share his story with us.
Empathic listening skills can and should be trained and allow for a thorough understanding of the clients position and situation.
Story Seekers® are Story Tenders
At Story Seekers® we believe that great salespeople are able to create instant trust and connection.
For the longest time, it was said that this soft skills cannot be trained.
Mike Bosworth Leadership
Mike became a legendary sales trainer back in the 90ties when he created Solution Selling®. His original goal was to help the bottom 80 % of salespeople (80 % of sales came from 20 % of sellers).
To his dismay a few years later it turned out that the ratio had become even worse. It was now 87:13. Mike’s Solution Selling® helped the great salespeople to become even better but did not help the bottom ones too much. What a slap in the face!
After all, Mike was the one preaching how EVERY salesperson´s performance goes down after the first 8 months (“expertise can be your enemy”). Even the unrealistic approach of hiring only the top 13 % many trainers suggest would not solve that.
Mike´s “valley of tears” began. Long story short: Extensive research led him to discover the trait of great salespeople: the ability to create instant trust and connection.
Mike knew now what he had to do. But he did not yet know how. Soft skills cannot be trained, or can they? Intensive research and years of development finally paid off: Mike achieved his goal.
He created the first and currently only system that allows the bottom 87 % of salespeople to increase their sales AND helps the top 13 % not to step in the “expertise-trap” and become even better.
Contact us to learn more about what Story Seekers® can do for you.