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How to Effectively Use Storytelling in Sales
Until recently, salespeople have been slow to catch on to the power of storytelling in their presentations. One benefit they might not have considered is that storytelling levels the playing field. It’s no longer one person who has something to sell and one person who is considering buying it. Instead, it’s two people sharing a human experience because storytelling makes the salesperson more relatable.
Storytelling Builds Trust
No one wants to buy from someone they don’t feel they can trust, but trust can be hard to establish in sales. Prospects may approach every transaction with suspicion because they wonder how much of what the sales representative tells them is true.
However, when the salesperson shares an anecdote from his or her own life, the client may have a similar experience that allows him or her to make an emotional connection. It makes it easier to trust as well as like the salesperson. People show less resistance buying from someone they like.
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Strategies for Perfecting the Storytelling Technique
Telling a story comes more naturally to some people than to others, including those who work in sales. All the same, it’s a skill that anyone can learn, just like anything else. Here are several ways that a sales professional can go from self-conscious to self-confident with storytelling:
- Make sure that every story has a point. No salesperson should tell a story just for the sake of doing so. It should be short and relevant to the sales conversation. The story should also direct the prospect towards taking a specific action.
- Don’t try too hard to make it entertaining. A funny story is more enjoyable to hear than a dull one, but trying too hard to inject humor can appear desperate. The sales representative should simply try to be natural and the entertainment will come.
- Tie it in with facts. Appealing to a prospect’s emotions is good, but he or she is unlikely to follow through without verifiable facts to back up the story. Using strong metaphors is more likely to draw attention as well.
Positioning the Client as the Hero of the Story
Another approach to storytelling is for the salesperson to focus on the prospective customer instead of using his or her own personal stories. This approach to storytelling for sales typically follows a three-part formula that goes like this:
- The opening: The sales representative sets the scene by describing the client’s world as it exists currently. This should include challenges the client faces with emphasis on how he or she desires to solve them.
- The build-up: Here the salesperson should describe how the client’s world could be with the product or service available for sale. While describing the interaction between client and brand, the salesperson should also describe how the product addresses pain points, overcomes obstacles, and helps the client achieve success.
- The closing: This step requires a call to action such as making a down payment or scheduling a future appointment. The emphasis needs to remain on how the client’s world could change with the product or service in question.
Above all, sales professionals need to practice telling stories several times before trying this approach with potential clients. Those who have no experience with storytelling should consider asking their manager or mentor for some tips and for this person to act as a practice audience member.