Sales has changed—it is no longer enough to rely on traditional, dry pitches.
When pitching your product today, sales teams must ensure clients remember their pitch, trust the information inside their pitch, and emotionally engage with their pitch. This is a very high bar to clear.
Fortunately, there is a pitching technique that covers every base—storytelling. A good story is easy to remember, easy to relate to, and emotionally compelling. When making a sale pitch or presentation, one good story can make all the difference.
Not convinced? Here are our four reasons that storytelling is an essential sales skill.
1. Stories build trust
Client’s don’t readily trust sales professionals. Without trust, they won’t share their biggest problems. If you can’t identify your client’s pain, tailoring a sales pitch becomes nigh on impossible.
One way to establish trust is to set an example by revealing your own vulnerability. You could do this by telling an origin story. Your origin story explains how you—or your company—ended up where you are today. Often, a person is at their lowest point at the start of their career, so origin stories typically include embarrassing details.
In 1973, FedEx was on the verge of bankruptcy. With no options left, founder Frederick W. Smith flew to Vegas and betted the companies last $5000 on a game of blackjack. Luckily, Smith won just enough money to keep the company afloat while he secured further loans.
Today, FedEx is multinational service responsible for delivering over 1.25 billion packages per year. Representatives of a company this large are at danger of becoming faceless and unrelatable. Fortunately, stories like the one above can humanise sales teams, making them more approachable by showing their vulnerability. When establishing lines of trust, one good story can be pivotal.
2. Stories stick in the client’s mind
In 1945, self-taught engineer Perry Spencer was working for a U.S defence contractor. Spencer’s job was to study magnetrons—powerful vacuum tubes that emit microwaves. One day after working on the magnetrons, Spencer made a startling discovery. The candy bar he had left in his pocket had somehow melted.
Later that year, Spencer developed the world’s first microwave oven.
According to a survey by the London School of Business, our ability to retain information depends on how the information is delivered. The survey found that dry statistics are only retained 5-10% of the time, whereas information is retained 65-70% of the time when told in a story.
What’s interesting here is that, although you probably won’t remember these statistics by the end of this post, you probably won’t forget the story of Perry Spencer—the inventor of the microwave. Information is easier to retain when told through a good story, and a good story will stick with a customer long after their sales pitch.
3. Stories demonstrate your product in action
The best stories are well structured. Every good story shares certain key elements, like a protagonist, a crisis and a resolution. Every story also has a beginning, a middle and an end. These key elements help to demonstrate the benefits of your product in action.
Sales professionals already identify client’s pain points and list off product benefits, but a good story brings these techniques together. In a good story, the protagonist is the product, the crisis is a pain point, and the resolution is a product benefit. The product is shown in action from beginning to end, and the client can see how your product is the perfect remedy to their problems.
If a new client is having doubts, nothing will win them over better than a good story. Use successful client case studies as examples. Tell their story—how they came to you, and how your product improved their situation. The new client will quickly see the benefits of your product in a day-to-day business situation.
4. Stories are emotionally compelling
Unfortunately, case studies can be boring. Nobody wants to read what someone has written about themselves, especially when it only amounts to another testimonial.
But stories aren’t boring. Stories can make prospective clients feel. Through stories, we can identify with protagonists, cringe as their prospects worsen and celebrate as they emerge victorious. Stories place us in the lives of others.
Sales pitches, presentations and case studies don’t have to be boring. Case studies can place us at the client’s beating heart, and help us experience their emotional lives. A good story helps us to remember, trust, and emotionally engage with information. A good story brings old sales techniques to life.