Story books on book shelves

The Importance of Storytelling in Sales Presentations

Incorporating storytelling into sales presentations can make them far more engaging and entertaining for prospects.  Telling a story also gives you the opportunity to provide context to the statistics and facts that you use to convince a prospect to make a purchase.

Despite these obvious benefits, many sales representative have been discouraged from using storytelling in sales presentations.  In some cases, they have come to believe that storytelling should be reserved for inspiration keynote speeches and other big events.  However, storytelling can play an important role in almost any sales presentation and can dramatically improve your sales conversion rates.

Why is storytelling in sales presentations so useful?

Here are just a few of the reasons why storytelling can make your for sales presentations far more effective.

Your sales presentation will be memorable

An inspirational or memorable anecdote can stay in the customer’s mind in a long time — much longer than a statistic or chart.  This makes storytelling a useful tactic when you are facing competition from several other sales representatives, as your pitch will stand out from the crowd.

Storytelling is brand-building

Brands like Jack Daniels, Apple, Nike, and McDonalds have been developed around a central story.  The stories behind these businesses helps customers understand the experiences that they provide.  Jack Daniels is authentic, Apple is all about the user, McDonalds is a place for families go, and so on.  You can use stories in a similar way, to provide essential context about your business that helps prospect understand what you are about.  This approach can also help you gain a prospect’s trust.

Stories can emphasise the importance of action

A well-presented anecdote that relates to the prospect or their business is a very effective motivator.  Anecdotes that trigger the fear of loss or desire for gain are particularly effective for driving the prospect into taking action.

Engaging and provide context

Prospects sometimes tune out if forced to sit through a presentation that features dozens graphs or charts.  They often prefer to listen to interesting or exciting stories that gives them more information about what you are offering.  Storytelling is also a great way to provide valuable context about your offering or the facts and figures that you are using.

Thinking about the bigger picture

Incorporating metaphors and anecdotes into a presentation can trigger a prospect’s imagination.  They will find it easier to think of the potential of your offering and how it can help them succeed in the future.

A typewriter with blank paper

Proven storytelling techniques to work into a sales pitch

So, how do you go about doing it?  It does take some practice to become a skilled storyteller and to successfully integrate stories into a sales pitch.  Here are several tips to help you get started.

Provide structure

All good stories have a well-defined structure, with a beginning, middle, and end.  The beginning of the story introduces the audience to the central protagonist.  In this case, that will either be you, the prospect, or a third party.

The middle section of the story identifies the dilemma that the protagonist is facing.  This might be a roadblock that is preventing the prospect’s business from success or a looming threat that could cause the business to fail.  Finally, the end of the story explains how the protagonist successfully overcomes this dilemma or seizes the opportunity.

Keep it brief

Time is precious during a sales presentation.  While a story can add context and make the presentation more engaging, don’t let it drag on for too long.  You still need sufficient time to perform other critical tasks during the presentation including product differentiation, alleviating the prospect’s concerns, sharing convincing data, performing product demonstrations and so on.

Appeal to emotion

The most entertaining stories will always have an emotional component.  In terms of storytelling within a sales presentation, the kinds of emotions that you are trying to trigger are a little different to typical storytelling.  You should try to trigger the fear of missing out (FOMO) in the prospect, or make them excited about possible opportunities just around the corner.   Triggering these kinds of emotional responses will make the story much more effective.

Use humour to build rapport

A small amount of humour should be incorporated into virtually every story you tell.  If you can elicit she chuckles from the prospect, they will feel good and be more favourable towards you.

Tailor the story to your prospect

People love hearing stories about themselves.  That’s why the most effective sales presentation stories are about the prospect or are relevant to their situation.  A story about a company that struggled to grow because they lacked the right tools will resonate more if your prospect is dealing with that problem.  Do your research and develop a story that is about the person you are selling to.

Don’t over-rehearse your story

The best storytellers have a casual way of speaking.  They sometimes make errors when telling a story or divert into little anecdotes relevant to the story.  It makes a story feel far more authentic.

If you over-rehearse your story, it may begin to sound like it is carefully rehearsed script that has been used with dozens of other prospects.  Your current prospect might see it is a tired selling pitch instead of an engaging story worth listening to.

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