There are usually four common reactions when I mention to sales leaders that their salespeople need to be selling using stories. They sometime roll their eyes and dismissively suggest one or more of the following:
- My salespeople can’t tell stories. It is a waste of time as they are not natural storytellers;
- They already tell stories;
- We don’t need that soft fluffy storytelling stuff in hard core sales roles. They just need to close more deals:
- Customers don’t want to hear stories
Here is my take on each of these objections:
- My salespeople can’t tell stories. It is a waste of time as they are not natural storytellers. At Ariel we have proven that storytelling is a skill that can be learned just like building rapport, asking questions, handling objections or closing a sale. Our focus at Ariel goes beyond simply crafting, creating or story boarding a story, but learning the skill of actually telling it in a way which grips the listener like a Hollywood movie might.
- They already tell stories. Actually what weI have observed is that they think they tell stories, but in most cases they are parroting something created by their marketing department or sharing an already crafted case study or delivering a pitch. Unfortunately the word “storytelling” has become so diluted that any narrative is considered a story. Real stories have a dramatic arch. They must have certain elements to qualify as a story such as a time and a place, a main character or characters trying to achieve something, an event or obstacle that prevents them from achieving their goal, and a resolution with learning. Salespeople need to tell much better stories than they are able to at present.
- We don’t need that soft fluffy storytelling stuff in hardcore sales roles. The advances in neurosciences and FMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) a technology which allows us to look into the brain under various conditions and see how it reacts have now proven that storytelling and the brains responses to stories are no longer soft and fluffy. It has gone from art to science. We can now prove that receiving data and opinions are not our minds natural language and is difficult to assimilate. We also now know that stories are a natural, low-effort way for a brain to take on new information. Stories can also inoculate objections if delivered well. Stories will persuade better than any pitch ever
- Customers don’t want to hear stories. Actually there is quite a bit of research that customers do. As outlined in the last blog post, there are 4 types of stories customers want to hear: A) Who you are and what they can expect from you; B) Who you have helped; C) Who you represent – your company. We have added a D) How your product or service came into existence – how and why it was invented.
At the end of the day if your salespeople are effective in adding the storytelling skill to their sales process, they will win better and sweeter deals faster while building great trust based relationships with their customers.
They win, customers win, your company wins, and you as a sales leader wins.