Dating as far back as the Stone Age, the art of story telling is a highly effective form of communication. People are simply hard-wired to hear stories. In fact, the London School of Business found that people retain 65 to 70 percent of information shared via a story versus only 5 to 10 percent of information conveyed through statistics.
Today, people are constantly overwhelmed with information, thus reducing their attention span. This often makes it more challenging for sales professionals to get their messages to stick. Successful storytelling is one of the most critical selling skills since it can help increase your sales by:
- Influencing a prospect’s or customer’s behavior
- Illustrating possibilities (E.g., sharing other customer successes)
- Building and reinforcing relationships
- Conveying/delivering complex ideas more easily
- Making personal, emotional connections
Furthermore, using storytelling principles can help salespeople make that personal, emotional connection. For example, don’t tell them about the benefits of a 24-hour help desk. Instead, talk about a person who works there and share a story that makes the case for a personal rather than an automated service.
So how do you build a story that will pique the interest of a customer?
Begin by asking questions. Get to know your customers by finding out what motivates them at the emotional level. What are their needs, goals, and desires? For example, “In a perfect scenario, what would your business look like two years from now?”
In order to connect at a deeper and more compelling level with customers, here are a few storytelling techniques:
- Focus on the prospect – Tell stories that relate to the customer’s needs.
- Keep it short and to the point – Think less is more.
- Create a mental picture/image for the customer – They enhance words and live longer in listeners’ minds.
- Use humor (when appropriate) – Don’t tell jokes!
Good stories stick. Without an interesting story to grab a customer’s attention, salespeople may never actively engage a prospect in a meaningful conversation.
About David Jacoby