Great Selling = Great Storytelling

24 Apr Great Selling = Great Storytelling

storytelling typewriterIn our business we often talk about “the story.”

For example, at Content That Works we call the engagement and wedding announcements on our Brides 365™ product “The Greatest Local Stories Ever Told.” Stories are the stuff of all journalism, whether in print, online, on television or via the radio waves.

Great stories should not be the exclusive purview of the editorial department, however. Great sales people are great storytellers.

Pretty much every evening Dan Dalton, Executive Vice President of Sales for Content That Works, calls the office and asks: “Any good stories from the day?”

We share anecdotes drawn from our conversations with clients and others. Any of you who know Dan know that this information often becomes fodder for his email blast or LinkedIn post the next day. Dan is a connoisseur of great stories – the more outlandish and attention-getting, the better!

Storytelling is rarely celebrated or even thought about in the sales department. That’s a huge mistake!

“If you can’t tell it, you can’t sell it,” famously proclaimed Peter Guber in his book “Tell to Win: The Hidden Power of Story.” Producer of “Rain Man” and “Batman,” UCLA professor, Golden State Warrior owner and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, Guber has done okay for a guy who believes in the power of stories, don’t you think? “The story isn’t the icing on the cake, it’s the cake!”

In my experience, the best, most effective sales people are incredible storytellers. The challenge is it get our prospects to see the compelling benefit in what we are selling. A great story about our products, company or services can help get the point across. It can also entertain and get our prospect to lean in and pay attention.

What makes a great story? It’s almost never about a thing, but about people who touch our emotions. Their stories suck us in to their lives. Great stories reveal a truth about the human condition. Life and death, good prevailing over evil, love and hate, fear and heroism…

As chilling and sad as last week’s events at the Boston Marathon and ensuing manhunt were, it was compelling stuff. Many people could barely put down their smart phones between updates. That story contained all of the elements above and more.

Effective salespeople use these same emotional touchstones to weave their webs.

Perhaps your product cannot save a life, but can it save someone’s job? Can the results delivered by your service overcome the evils of an economy that paralyzes decision makers? Do customers love your company, but hate the way a competitor treats them? Can you make your prospect a hero in the eyes of her superiors? Most important, can you use the experiences of other clients to solve a problem for this prospect?

Every new company, product and service was created to solve some problem of the human condition. Think about it. That’s the basis of your sales story.

The irony is that in our storytelling industry, we relegate “The Story” to a backseat in the sales department. That’s just wrong!