3 Must-Have Sales Storytelling Skills
Up against automation and an endless stream of sales messages and information, sales teams are leveraging storytelling to differentiate their products and services, build compelling connections, and establish trust with clients. This powerful sales tool encompasses more than just having a story and telling it well. Effective sales storytelling rests on the ability to provide storytelling in the context of a consultative, authentic conversation.
Here are the three main storytelling skills all sales teams need to build to succeed in today’s business landscape.
Have a great story
Certain types of stories are more compelling than others in a sales situation. That’s why it’s important to arm your sales team with a library of stories that they can pull from and apply to their own client conversations. Here are the four main types of business stories that can help drive people to action:
- the personal story (who I am, why I do this, why you should trust me)
- the client story (how we have done this before, what the future could look like for you)
- the product story (what’s possible with this product, the dramatic transformation you could experience)
- the organizational story (why we’re here to serve you, how we’re different from our competitors, why you should care about working with us).
Tell a great story
Once your team has an arsenal of powerful stories at their fingertips, it’s time to deliver. Telling a great story is all about internalizing the experience and using storytelling techniques like speaking in present tense and using language that invokes the listener’s senses to make a product or service vivid, compelling, and interesting to the potential client. You can learn more about the essential elements of a great story right here.
A library of stories and storytelling techniques, however, aren’t enough to win the sale and establish trust. In fact, even the best stories can create the opposite effect when not applied strategically. The most effective salespeople understand how to integrate storytelling into the sales conversation in an authentic way that drives value and builds trust.
Integrate a great story
The most important, and often overlooked, sales storytelling skill is the ability to be agile–to apply the story in a way that is contextually relevant in the midst of a client conversation. While a salesperson may be armed with potential stories to pull from and an arsenal of storytelling techniques to leverage, they often approach critical conversations in anticipation, waiting for the time to strike with a story rather than actively listening to the person’s needs. Doing this is obvious to any listener and will make your story feel inauthentic. To relieve this issue and help your salespeople stay fully present, they need to practice and prepare ahead of time with stories that are responsive to the client’s particular situation and stage in the sales cycle.
The end result?
The ultimate success comes in the sales meeting, when a potential client is able to establish an emotional connection with the possibility of working together through the power of story. The storyteller has used vivid detail, imagery, and emotion to help the listener easily place herself in the shoes of a past client and envision a better future. The salesperson walks out of the office door and the potential client is able and eager to tell that same story to key decision makers, serving as a champion of your product or service.
In order to find success, your sales team must be able to bring these three skills together. Looking to empower your sales team to better leverage the power of storytelling? Read our ebook on storytelling for sales or get in touch to learn more about our sales effectiveness training programs.