In sales, storytelling is all the rage right now. In fact, from what we’ve seen, teaching storytelling to salespeople has significantly increased in the last five years. We all know there is power in stories, but did you know that listening to someone share an engaging story releases a chemical called “oxytocin” in your brain? Oxytocin is a chemical that relaxes a person and shows up “when we are trusted or shown a kindness, and it motivates cooperation with others,” (Zak, HBR “Why Your Brain Loves Story Telling” 2014). Since trust is critical for sales and storytelling builds trust, it’s natural to assume a link between storytelling and generating a sale.
The problem is, storytelling is taught in the context of telling a story about your company—what your company believes, where your company has been, and what your company can do for the client. The emphasis here is less about the client and far more on messaging and marketing. We are basically teaching salespeople to talk about themselves. This seems to us like show up and throw up in a fancy outfit.
Here at JMReid Group, we teach your salespeople, storytelling – but we flip it on its head. We think out understanding the competitors is key. The summary is a golden opportunity for storytelling and we believe you should learn how to tell the client’s story even better than your own. Why? People like to talk about themselves and they like when you talk about them (their story). The least interesting topic of conversation for the customer is you talking about you. The current rage of storytelling is based on the belief that we can be so interesting that they will love to hear us talk. Good luck with that.
The best way to tell a story about your customer is to make sure you understand the emotional AND intellectual situation your client is in and reflect that understanding back to them. To tell a client’s story, you first need to ask better questions to gather the details. You also have to be equipped with insight and basic emotional intelligence. With this information in hand, a sales professional can summarize their understanding and create a story on the fly. Set the client as the protagonist, battling against the odds to solve a problem within their company. Create conflict as the issue at hand—tricky, complex and ready to strike. Your client is now at a crucial point of choice—one that will shape their future personally and professionally. Cast the client in the most compelling story—their own. Traditional storytelling for sales people is an attempt to win out persuading. We believe in story telling that attempts to win out on understanding.
To learn about other ways to build trust and for more helpful tips on closing sales, follow this link to order our newest book “Moving from Models to Mindsets.”