Using storytelling in sales could be one of the most valuable ways for businesses to strengthen their relationships with customers and improve lifetime value. Stories are powerful sales assets, capable of being up to 7 times more memorable than facts alone.
Of course, simply knowing how powerful storytelling can be for your business isn’t enough on its own. You also need to be able to craft and execute your own storytelling strategies effectively.
What is Storytelling in Sales?
Storytelling in sales is similar to any other kind of storytelling in life. The aim is to craft a narrative using various pieces of information and characters, to send a message or inspire action. In the sales landscape, the tales you tell should be designed to inspire a positive emotional response from your customers and encourage repeat purchases.
Storytelling in sales helps build stronger connections to your target audience and differentiates your brand from other competing companies.
Storytelling In Sales: Examples
Storytelling in sales often involves creating a specific narrative based on what you know about your target audience, their specific pain points and needs. For instance, you’d start by assessing the hero of your sales story (your buyer persona). This individual might be a VP of Sales for a software brand.
You can start a story by building an introduction, saying something like “I recently saw you upgraded your CRM, how is that going for your brand?” This introduces the central characters of the story (the company you want to sell to) and the topic of the narrative (the CRM).
In the middle of the story, you introduce a potential challenge to overcome, like making sure the CRM consistently has access to accurate data. To counteract this challenge in the story, you introduce a potential solution (your software tool).
For the conclusion, you introduce how the hero of the story (the sales rep) can overcome a range of problems by introducing your solution.
Tips for Storytelling in Sales and Marketing
Successful B2B storytelling requires business leaders to use a range of strategies to present their narrative in the best possible light for their target audience. There are a few steps you can take to improve the impact of your stories, such as:
Always start with buyer personas: You can’t tell an effective story until you first know who you’re talking to. This is because the most meaningful stories will resonate with people based on their pain points, expectations, and the language they use. You’ll need to develop strong buyer personas to guide your narrative and determine how you’re going to talk to your audience when presenting your story.
Learn the principles of storytelling: Remember the basic principles of storytelling outlined by Robert Carnes. Start with a main character, someone to give your story personality and focus. Your main character should be your customer in a sales narrative. Follow up with context, highlighting the issue your main character is facing, and what it means to them. Follow up with a conflict – the problem your main character needs to fight against. Finally, introduce “creation”, to pull the various concepts together into a consistent narrative.
Use positive customer experiences: Positive experiences other customers have already had with your business often form a great foundation for stories. You can present the challenges your other customers have faced to your customers in a narrative structure, using these customers as the main character for your potential buyer to relate to. Make sure you use statistics and real insights from your case studies to make the stories more authentic.
Make it realistic: Avoid using hyperbole and anything that may make your stories seem too unrealistic. Your customers want to be able to envision themselves as the main character in your story. It’s hard for them to do this if they consider your promises to be too extreme.
One of the best ways to make sure your storytelling in sales is having the right impact on your target audience and improving your chances of long-term sales, is to measure the impact of each story.
You should be able to track important metrics about your storytelling in marketing and sales, by tracking things like customer conversion rates and follow up after a salesperson uses a story in their sales pitches.
Measuring your customer’s response to stories will also help you to determine which kinds of customers respond to which kinds of narratives, and what kind of elements you might need to use in future stories, such as emotional impact.
Succeeding with Storytelling in Sales
Introducing the various aspects of storytelling into your sales strategy can feel complex and overwhelming. It requires you to deviate from the basic guidelines of a straightforward pitch for your sales team. However, while there’s no guarantee your storytelling strategy will work for everyone, it could help you to build more lucrative relationships with some of your ideal clients.
Learning how to use storytelling in sales can add another string to your bow when it comes to connecting with potential customers and converting leads.