Stories have been around for a long time. They have been used to pass information to others since time immemorial. For example, the myths of Ancient Greece and Rome, the Native American stories that explain their culture, the Hindu myths and so on.
Here’s another example closer to home. Consider all the stories with morals that you tell your children, to teach them said morals. For example, the monkey and the crocodile, the hare and the tortoise, so on and so forth. You probably remember the morals you learnt as a child through these stories all your life. This is mostly because these stories were interesting and engaging when you were a child and they stayed in your mind.
Thus, stories have lasting power. In fact, a good story has the ability to captivate you, grab your attention and create engagement. It can even interest you enough to buy something. That is why storytelling is an extremely powerful sales tool when used right.
These days the features and benefits of something you are trying to sell are often not enough to generate interest. Using storytelling is a great way to engage more prospects and close more deals. A great example of this is Dollar Shave Club’s legendary launch video, in which the CEO of the company walked around the company warehouse and told the story of the company’s origin. This video was viewed over 26 million times and generated more than 12,000 orders within two days of posting. Later in 2016, the company was acquired for 1.1 billion dollars. Thus, storytelling is the ultimate growth hack.
Elements Of A Good Story
Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. The beginning is meant to hook the audience – in this case, your customer – and the end is a solution to the problem the story addresses – or as part of sales strategy, it could be a call-to-action.
However, truly understanding what makes a good story often takes a lifetime. Then again, there are certain common elements that you must pay attention to in order to create a good story. These include:
- The Inciting Incident: This is the event that triggers everything else that happens in the story. In terms of sales strategy, you must think about what the inciting incident is for your company. Think about the event that motivated the existence of the company. It should be at the core of what you’re doing and what you are making.
- The Protagonist: This is the hero of your story. When you are trying to sell something, it is often a mistake to portray yourself as the hero. You should instead focus on your customers or an imaginative figure and consider them to be the hero of your story. After all, the idea is to help your customers solve their problems with the help of your products and services; not to show off as the hero who saved your customers.
- The Controlling Idea: This is the message you are trying to deliver through your story. It explains the purpose of your brand and would be rather similar to your mission statement. In other words, the controlling idea focuses your story toward the audience and tells your customers exactly how your brand can help them solve their problems.
These are only the three most important elements to consider. There are others of course. If you are interested to know more be sure to take a look at Story by Robert McKee.
Benefits of Using Storytelling In Your Sales Strategy
Now that you have an idea of what makes a good story, let’s look at why using storytelling in your sales strategy can be really beneficial to you.
- It Grabs Attention: A good story will capture your audience’s attention. They may tune you out if you only talk about the features and benefits of your products. However, if you do the same through a story you are definitely going to be able to hold their attention longer.
- It Motivates Action: A good story can change a person’s outlook about something and motivate them to take action. Moreover, the metaphors in stories allow customers to experience the story as though they are living it themselves. That, in turn, makes it easier for the customer to connect with your product or service. Thus, not only will your customers pay you more attention to storytelling, but they will also be more motivated to actually buy your product or service.
- It Builds Trust: Storytelling is a great way to build trust between you and your client. It can help you build and reinforce relationships and create personal connections with your prospects. Storytelling also adds a new dimension to the process of sales and helps your prospect let down their guard and open up to you.
- It Is Memorable: A good story helps the subconscious visualize the application of your product or service, and that, in turn, makes you memorable. Thus, your customers are more likely to remember a story you tell them over any sales pitch you might give them, no matter how great. Moreover, they will remember the information you give them through the story better, and it will stick with them throughout the sales process.
- It Adds Depth: Instead of stating data and facts about your product or service, including them in a story makes them memorable and interesting. This, in turn, adds depth to your brand. Moreover, storytelling can illustrate possibilities, and, therefore, allows for a longer and better connection with your customer.
To conclude, people are hardwired to hear stories, with even a simple narrative producing cortisol and oxytocin in the body. These hormones induce feelings of trust and empathy and allow a connection to develop with the storyteller or, in this case, you the salesperson.
You must customize your storytelling according to your product and client. Ask questions to find out what motivates your customer on an emotional level and tailor your story accordingly. Try to create a mental image for your client and be sure to sprinkle in some humor for good measure.
Lastly, remember that your language doesn’t need to be flowery for your story to be effective. Just combine logic with emotion and facts with metaphors in a seamless narrative. Including dialogue and pop culture references are also great ways to make your story more engaging.