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