Regardless of your industry or your business model, we all sell some product, service, or idea. From the firm that wants their customers to buy new software to the entrepreneur convincing an investor to support their project, success lies in your ability to call the other person’s attention, make them fall in love, and close the “sale.” In this (sometimes) complicated process, storyselling presents itself as a potent tool.
What is storyselling and what are its benefits?
Storyselling is the art of telling a story with the aim of attracting your audience, so they remember, connect, and perceive the benefits of acquiring your product or service. As a result, it entails connecting with them through narratives that awaken their interest, and in the end, fall in love with what you have to offer.
Storyselling has exciting potential for a sales team. Using stories will help you:
- Capture the client’s attention.
- Forge an honest relationship.
- Motivate the consumer to take action.
- Create a context around the data that makes them more relevant and exciting.
You can also use this technique at any point of the sales process, whether it be explaining the product characteristic, managing expectations, answering questions, or while negotiating the agreement.
Why do good stories work?
Humans have been using stories as the primary means of communication for 40,000 years. They were used to pass down tradition, culture, lessons, survival, etc. They easily stick in our memories and stay there for a very long time. Why may you ask? Our brain stores, indexes, and recovers information in story format.
According to Stanford Graduate School of Business Marketing Professor Jennifer Aaker, “[r]esearch shows our brains are not hard-wired to understand logic or retain facts for very long. Our brains are wired to understand and retain stories. A story is a journey that moves the listener, and when the listener goes on that journey they feel different. The result is persuasion and sometimes action.”
Thus, when we listen to a story, chemical substances in our brain that make us feel different emotions get released: empathy, affection, happiness, pain, fear, etc. These reactions are those that make us connect with the speaker and create a unique bond. The facts or figures don't have the same effect.
Brands have traditionally tried to sway consumers through studies, figures, or grand arguments claiming their product was the best on the market. This approach has generated distrust, and as an Edelman Significa study notes, created limited, one-sided relationships between brands and consumers.
In turn, if we appeal to feelings or emotions using stories, it will be much easier to break this barrier and create a node, as Jonathan Gottschall explains in The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human. Besides that, this technique makes it much more likely that the user remembers you in the future: a Forbes article reveals that it's 22 times more likely for a fact or figure to be recognized if it comes "wrapped" in a good story.
There is a scene from one of the most iconic episodes of Mad Men that perfectly reflects the power of storyselling. Don Draper presents a pitch to Kodak through a personal story that wakes up all kinds of emotions that ultimately achieves its goal: it grabs the audience’s attention.
How can you create a compelling story to make your audience fall in love?
You don't need special skills or knowledge to be a good storyseller; you merely need to understand how stories work and what they should have to create a positive effect on your speaker. The four ingredients to craft a story are and have always been the following:
In storyselling, the consumer should always be the hero or protagonist. The customer should be delighted to be part of the course of events, and it will make it easier for them to connect with the narrative.
Who should be the villain? In this case, it will be a problem rather than a person. Some examples could be the lack of qualified customers, the difficulty of finding talent, etc.
Every client is different and has a concrete set of circumstances that influence their decision-making. We should make an effort to understand their context and incorporate it into our narrative correctly. We'll be able to help build trust and capture their interest by providing data or examples.
Every story has a beginning, a crux, and a resolution. The crux is the part of the story where there’s a conflict needing a solution. In our storyselling, we need to reference the pain point or the need the consumer could have and what our product or service satisfies perfectly. For success in the sales world, we have to have our target’s needs abundantly clear and pinpoint what is stopping them from solving it.
Once we've completed our needs-based analysis, we demonstrate the value of the product or service we want to sell. The story's protagonist will, of course, come out victorious and benefitted from the story.
With these four components, you'll develop stories about your product, firm, or even about yourself, to connect with customers and forge trustworthy relationships. Prepare them in advance, be transparent, authentic, and turn yourself into a first-rate storyteller.
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