Storytelling – another best practice for sales success


Much has been written about the importance of storytelling to sales success – including eight tips for storytelling we posted in an earlier blog on Sales Training Connection. Recently the Sales Benchmark Index built on this argument by identifying additional specific tips for getting better at storytelling.

After speaking with executives crossing 19 industries, they report that sales forces must know how to connect at a deeper and more compelling level with their customers and storytelling is a great way to get that done.

Sales reps who are able to share engaging stories that resonate with the listener make that connection. It is one thing to list why a customer should do business with you; it is another to be able to relate a past success story that beings that list to life.  It is not little bit different – it is a whole lot different.

That said, here are the 8 best tips for storytelling we introduced in that earlier post:

  • Focus on the prospect – tell stories that relate to solutions that address the customers needs.
  • Leave the jargon at home – translate the story into language familiar and relevant to the prospect
  • Make the story make a point Have well-researched, provocative viewpoints about the story that relate to the customer’s environment.
  • Don’t rely on PowerPoints – Verbal communication is a better way to create images when telling a story.
  • Dramatize the story – so the contrast between the customer’s current state and desired state – after using your solution – is clear
  • Build up your story inventoryso you have an appropriate story ready to illustrate a point and advance the sale
  • Role-play the telling in advance it always sounds different when you hear what you say aloud!
  • End with an unexpected benefit – When possible, share unexpected benefits. For example after highlighting the benefits achieved, round off the story by saying something along the – lines of “and on top of that, the unexpected benefit was…”

And here are four tips from the Sales Benchmark Index that reinforce and add to the points we made earlier:

  • Spend more time on preparing the story than on the feature/function portion of the presentation
  • Punch the story, put your audience in the story. Introduce a new thought.  Challenge conventional wisdom.  Use Humor when appropriate but not jokes!
  • Use images … they enhance words and they live longer in the listeners’ mind and they tend to evoke a reaction to what’s being said

If you found this post helpful, you might want to join the conversation and subscribe to the Sales Training Connection.

©2012 Sales Horizons, LLC

About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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