I was recently at a large annual event in the tech industry. While there were several big-name speakers and some very creative presentations, one stood out above the rest. Everyone was talking about it after the event. It was by the former CEO of a major insurance broker (who would have thought!). What did he do differently? He spent his entire speech – the better part of an hour – just telling stories. There was not a single presentation slide or visual, yet he kept the audience on the edges of their seats the entire time. This presenter tapped into a powerful tool that gets overlooked far too often in sales messaging.
What the insurance CEO knew was that if you really want to drive home your point, a good story always beats a presentation of facts and principles. Adding in a few memorable stories can be one of the easiest ways to improve your own sales messaging. Here’s why:
- They make you human. Stories let you reveal some of your own weaknesses rather than appearing perfectly put together. This helps build trust with your audience. The insurance CEO was the head of a trazillion dollar company. And yet, I found myself pulling for him as the underdog while he described the challenges he faced.
- They make for faster decisions. People make decisions with their heart and justify them with their head. That’s why features and benefits (as well as facts and figures) can only get you so far. To really move a sale forward, you’ve got to connect with prospects on an emotional level. Storytelling is one of the easiest ways to do this.
- They get remembered. Your prospect may not remember the seven steps in your process, but she’ll remember the story about how your customer avoided a major catastrophe. I can still remember the stories the insurance CEO told with remarkable detail even though I’ve forgotten many of the other things I heard that day.
- They get retold. I found myself retelling the insurance CEO’s stories again and again – because they were just that interesting. This is golden in sales. Especially in those critical moments when your prospect is presenting your case to other decision makers and you’re not there to help.
You already have great stories. It’s time to start telling them.
The more companies we work with, the more convinced I become that every company has great stories to tell. Often, they just haven’t been identified and written down. Start by thinking about the problems you’ve solved for your customers. Or the reason your company was founded. Ask your sales and service teams to share some of their most exciting moments.
Now, take some time to boil these experiences down to a few simple, meaningful stories that anyone in your organization can retell. Keep them short (a paragraph or two is plenty). Then encourage your sales professionals to weave these stories into conversations with customers and prospects. You’ll be surprised at how effective this one simple tool can be.
Coming Soon: How to craft a compelling story for any sales conversation