The Power of Storytelling

Proforma Blog

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From the first day of training, salespeople have it drilled into their brains: share the features, but emphasize the benefits. As clients will always focus on how the sales transaction will enrich them personally, this is sound advice. More often than not, however, the delivery of those benefits is in the form of a bullet pointed list – an outdated sales crutch that true sales professionals rarely, if ever, use.

Successful salespeople understand that people aren’t moved by facts in the form of bullet points; instead, they are shifted into action by compelling and relevant stories. In other words, a salesperson who shares stories will have a higher close rate and dramatically increased margins than their bullet-pointed-dependent competition.

There are four reasons why storytelling is the key vehicle for communicating client benefits:

1.    Adds meaning
Stories share experiences that other forms of communication cannot convey. Through experiences, each of us has become experts at drawing life lessons out of stories. For example:
•    Don’t drink orange juice immediately after brushing your teeth
•    On opening weekend, get to the theater showing the new blockbuster movie a bit earlier than usual
•    Don’t talk about politics with your father-in-law

Reviewing bullet points simply gives the audience information. When shared in the form of a relevant story, they will be able to apply that knowledge themselves.

2.    Builds Rapport
Stories create a bond between the teller and their audience. Think about an underperforming salesperson: if you simply provide feedback in an effort to improve their numbers, they will be attentive, but they will also be defensive. However, if you share a story about how you faced similar challenges when starting in sales, they are much more open to your feedback. Clients are no different.

3.    Increased Retention
Stories are easier to understand and to remember, which leads to dramatically improved recall. Think of the last presentation you attended – did you retain any of the information presented in bullet points? The answer is likely no. However, if the speaker tells a story to demonstrate the value of those same bullet points, the retention of the information is far greater.

4.    Stops Disagreement
Facts listed in bullet point form encourage an audience to process information critically and to think of reasons to either agree or disagree. Stories are processed by the brain much differently as they relax the listener and encourage them to use their imagination and emotions.

Compelling stories engage an audience in ways a simple list of facts will never approach. By investing the time to learn how to share a pertinent story with your clients, you will be capable of transporting the listener outside of the normal selling situation and move them to action.

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