The value of a good storytelling in sales is known to any professional salesperson. As a salesperson, building trust with customers is a constant endeavor till the time we close a deal. The customer decides to give an order to a salesperson only if he trusts him or his organization. And stories are the most powerful way of building trust. We have all heard this famous saying “Data Tells and stories sell “. And that’s what does the magic.
Storytelling in sales invoke emotion in people. Research shows we are hardwired to learn better if someone’s words have meaning and emotion to them . So what causes people to react? Take action? make a decision? It’s our emotion. Stories are the most powerful way to invoke various emotions in us.
Sales storytelling draws the audience in your conversation. It makes them re-imagine the entire experience as if it is happening to them. What spices are to food, storytelling is to conversations for a salesperson. The best of conversations are the ones where you can share your personal story. That’s how your customers get to know you as a real, authentic person who has helped other people struggling with similar problems.
So whether you are convincing customers to buy your products or trying to persuade your boss to raise your salary, storytelling is at the heart of how effectively you communicate.
Learning the framework for storytelling in sales.
In this blog we are going to learn a framework on how to write sales stories.
We all know storytelling is important but many of us don’t know how to articulate our past wins and deliver them in the form of authentic stories to our clients. So if you are ready to learn, get your pens and paper or open a note-taking app on your mobile phone and make lots of notes.
I like to coin acronyms as it helps to remember concepts very easily. So for a sales storytelling framework, I have coined an acronym: CRISP
Steps of this framework don’t follow the sequence of the acronym but the acronyms help to remember the steps easily. So remember this acronym CRISP. Follow the steps in this acronym to articulate authentically heart-touching stories to your clients.
Step 1: Decide the PURPOSE of your story:
Franklin Covey in his famous book “7 habits of highly effective people” has mentioned habit 2 that is to always begin with the end in mind. And that applies to storytelling as well.
So before writing your story, always be clear what is the purpose of this story. What message you want to convey to your customer. Do you want to convey the benefits of your offerings ? Maybe you want to tell them how are you better from the competition. Or perhaps you want to build credibility.
The best way to do that is to write the message of your story in one sentence. If you’re watching this and thinking of delivering a story to your customer, write the message you want to convey in one sentence.
Step 2: SET THE CONTEXT of your story:
As the term mentions, you need to set the context of the story. This is where you take your customer into the world of the sales storytelling and create a visual image in their mind. And it’s pretty simple. You can do this by mentioning three things: Location, Date, and Background:
Below is a great example of setting up the context for your story:
“In the year 1893, Champaner was a small village in the heart of India. The people of Champaner depended on agriculture.A British cantonment bordered the village. The fort of the king of this province was two miles beyond British cantonment.
This is just an example of how you can mention details while narrating your story. Setting up the context takes customers into the world of storytelling and they re-imagine the experience in their mind.
Step 3: INTRODUCE THE CHARACTERS of your story:
Here you introduce the character, especially the one who is the protagonist of your story. It could be the person who made the final decision of the purchase. Or it could be the one who has benefitted the most from your product. Introduce them with a name and their designation. Talk about their personality and build their persona in the listener’s mind.
Step 4: Bring out the CONFLICT in your storytelling:
We all love to watch movies. There are a few handfuls and universal movies that everyone has seen like Sholay, Dangal, etc. Now just imagine if in the movie Sholay, Gabbar wouldn’t have killed Thakur’s family member or if in the movie Dangal, Amir Khan’s daughters would have willingly accepted their father’s coaching and become national level champions; would these movies have been as entertaining as they are? All these incidents in each movie are nothing but conflicts.
Hence we now move to the golden rule of storytelling in sales that is:
Sales storytelling becomes pale without good conflict. It’s the sole purpose why the story exists. Conflict isn’t a part of the story –
It is the story.
Let’s take any movies or TV shows as an example. There is always a character you love to hate, the obstacles a character needs to overcome, the moral and ethical conflicts within a character’s actions, feelings, and thoughts. Conflict is like oxygen for stories. Without it, a story will die. It is a catalyst that brings the transformation within the protagonist in your story.
There is something about a conflict that draws the attention of the audience instantaneously. It engages us, it arouses various emotions as real life is never smooth. It has series of conflicts, it has struggles, it has challenges. If each one of you would want to narrate your life story you will always pick a story where you came across a challenge or a conflict and overcame it. It’s a centrifugal force that anchors the entire story around it. Without conflict, the story ends up being a list of uninteresting events. Your job as a storyteller is to identify the conflict in your past win and articulate it in such a way that it touches the listener’s heart.
Step 5: Reach the RESOLUTION of your story.
Now we move to the last but not least step i.e Resolution.
Have you seen any movie which ends in conflict? No right! Similarly, there has to be a resolution in your sales stories and that resolution is what you are selling, either your product or your service.
This is where you introduce your products and service in your storytelling and articulate the value you delivered to your customers. This is where you build credibility and win customers’ trust by stating how your product or service addressed other customers’ conflicts and helped them achieve objectives they set out for themselves.
These are all the steps you will need to make the perfect framework for your storytelling.
So while you are writing and narrating your sales stories, you need to keep these three things in mind:
Write down these 5 steps and list down details of your past wins which match these 5 steps. Then use your language skills and creativity to articulate a story that will touch your listeners’ hearts.
As a professional salesperson or a storyteller, you should always have a bank of stories and use them on appropriate occasions to convey a respective message. The best part about stories or any piece of content you write is that you can reuse it as many times you want, you can narrate the same story to 10 different customers, you can use these stories for mentoring or even in job interviews.
Storytelling in sales is a skill and like any other skill, it needs practice. World-famous public speaker, Tony Robbins says consistency is the mother of excellence and you need to be consistently writing and delivering your sales stories to be good at it. One on average if you deliver a story 5 times, chances are you become extremely articulate at it and it sounds natural and authentic every time you narrate it, so practice and rehearse your stories as many times as u can.
Let me know if this storytelling framework is working for you or if you are getting stuck at any steps, please mention in the comments and I would love to help you.
Also if you have read this blog till the end, do write in the comments section what is your biggest takeaway from this.
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