The Power of Story Telling

Story Telling / Story Tending

Why do we love to hear stories

Do you remember when you were a kid and your parents read a “good night” story to you? Didn't you love it? Stories inspire our fantasy and enable us to create visions.

We see pictures. We become part of the story. Not only that, but we abstract, we learn, we create.

When it comes to Business, the important question is: what can we achieve with storytelling?

  • With stories, we inform others about our achievements
  • With stories, we create positive feelings in others
  • With stories, we establish ourselves as interesting dialogue partners
  • With authentic stories, we invite someone to open up and share their stories with us
“Dialogue partner” is a better position than “sleazy sale guy”, right? So, what is the deal with storytelling, and how can it make a sales team more successful?

Story Telling – Sales Manager's Weapon

Since ancient times, people have been influenced with stories. Cavemen scratched and painted their life stories into the walls so that others could learn from them. Religion uses the power of storytelling.

We were brought up with stories that taught us and influenced us and are the foundation of our beliefs, behavior, and perception of right and wrong.

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” ― Albert Einstein

I would like to say that stories are a forceless invitation. You can invite someone to come to a conclusion that happens to be in line with your goal.

Rather than being told what to do (and who doesn't hate that?) I would like to hear a story. A story that is relevant to me and my situation.

Traditional Sales Training

Most Sales Training has the approach of teaching Salespeople methods to manipulate the customer to a buying decision.

I spent most of my career around Business Intelligence/Management Consulting in the Finance Industry, where that approach would not work. My clients were not idiots or easy to manipulate. Actually, most of my clients were highly intelligent, probably way more intelligent than me. I respect my clients and never tried to play cheap mind games.

Many Sales Managers have to explain why their teams again did not reach their goal. Or why they created costs for filling out RFPs and RFQs they never won. In every sales team, 10-13 % of the people account for app. 80% of the turnover. Managers are desperately trying to find a way to teach the others what the top performers do.

They know that the pipeline of many of their sales guys is empty.

You probably know Mike Bosworth as a bestselling author, the creator of the famous “Solution Selling” and the trainer of companies like IBM, Salesforce, and many others.

Two weeks ago, I spoke to Mike (I will be working with this Sales Trainer Legend and Story Seeking Master in the future) and told him: Mike, I am uncertain if I am such a good Sales guy. It was always really the customers who helped me. They told me about their fear and visions. They told me about projects, budgets, competitors, politics and whom to talk to.

And I realized: That is what it is about. Establishing an emotional connection in an environment of trust and mutual benefits. And exceeding your quota.

Let's face it. People rarely become board members or CEOs without the ability to see through cheap sales tricks. Another problem is that you might tell the customer 13 reasons why you think your solution is just what he needs. Maybe he would buy for a 14th reason you did not mention, and you will never learn about because you used a benefit or feature driven and  unflexible approach.

Many Salespeople meanwhile use benefits argumentation instead of chanting product benefits. But that is still too feature centric.

  • Clients do not care for being told what to do
  • Clients aren't concerned with product features
  • Clients want to learn how your offer allows them to solve their problems or reach their goal
To share your vision, your fear, and struggles and your true goals with someone, there needs to be a bond. I do not bond with people over a salesy presentation, and I am confident that is true for you too. As well as for your client.

What better way is there to bond with someone than sharing stories?

People – Pictures - Emotions = Stories

  • People are interested in relevant experience of other people
  • People process information in consecutive pictures – the story
  • People feel concerned when others open up to them

What makes a good story?

Before you tell your story, you should know
  • What do you want to convey to your prospect
  • Which personal experience supports your story
  • What is your goal
  • How does it matter to your prospect
Staying honest and fair and opening up about our success as well as our failures creates empathy. And empathy is the basis for sympathy and trust.