Every opportunity to discuss your brand, service, or market position is a choice between simply pitching the benefits of your product or sharing a personal, meaningful story that connects you to your listener. One is low-hanging fruit that chases a dollar, the other creates differentiation and establishes long-term relationship potential. One is simple, the other takes effort and nuance.
Whether that interaction is one-on-one or delivered from a keynote stage to an audience of hundreds or thousands, the fundamental differentiation in message delivery is the same. When you pitch, you make your job and that of your audience harder; when you connect, you rise above the competition and empower your listener. The choice is yours.
What's the story behind your numbers?
A typical product pitch plays to metrics, KPIs, and statistical “proof” of a product’s superiority compared to the competition’s offering. Unfortunately, your competition has their own sets of metrics, KPIs, and statistical proof that their product is, in fact, the superior option. For every number you build your marketing on, the other key players in your sector are marketing their numbers with equal fervor. This is no way to stand out in a busy field of strong consumer choices.
A number on its own rarely carries enough impact to create a contract. Numbers without a story to back them up or give them personal value are quickly ignored or forgotten. When faced with a buying decision built solely on numbers, customers will become confused and frustrated. Rather than lean toward your brand and product, they will lean away from brands and products creating that confusion. In the end, they will make buying decisions that are not based on numbers, but on emotion and gut-level “like” or “dislike” of the company begging them to buy.
However, when you combine your numbers with a powerful, connective story that brings your data to life, you clarify the difference between your brand and others. When you add stories to your statistics, you will increase gut-level emotional response in your audience and become the brand they “like” better. By telling a strong brand story that balances metrics with meaning, you will instantly rise to the top.
Make connections with your customers
Whether your audience is one individual or ten thousand in a crowded room, connecting with your audience begins with understanding who your audience is, what they want or need most, and how you can deliver for them. At the start of your interaction, resist the natural desire to instantly leap into content. Too many conversations run straight to the sale without first respecting the value of foundational human-to-human connection.
Instead, open with a personal experience, share a recent victory or failure, establish commonality and aligned values that change the dynamic from "seller pitching to buyer" into "friend talking with friend." Avoid the data until you establish the relationship.
As you progress through your presentation, constantly look for ways to back off from the marketing and return to the individual or individuals sitting across from you. Remember that customers are people, not wallets, each with their own complex lives and daily challenges to address.
Encourage them to share their opinions and thoughts so they become a part of your sales story. Turn your one-way lecture into a two-way conversation that includes their voices. Asking questions and making them feel heard and valued increases the value of your own story.
Close your story by showing the value of your connection
A strong conclusion assures a meaningful payoff. If there is no positive change for your audience or for you, your time together was simply small talk. To be fair, it often takes several conversations to reach the intended result, but once the interaction is finished, both you and your message will stay in their minds longer and have a higher perceived value.
Even the most mundane conversation should wrap with a meaningful, proactive call to action. Sometimes that call is for a next step on the road to a completed sales cycle. Other times it’s simply an invitation to continue the discussion. Why do you want to continue the discussion? Why is taking the next step in your listener’s best interest? How will they win by extending the connection you’ve successfully established for their benefit and positive change? Always end your interaction with them at the top.
Connection keeps your audience in the leadership role throughout your time with them. It should start and end with them, and focus on their reality, their needs, and their hopes for success. If you establish a personal, human connection, your message will rise above the average pitch and differentiate your brand from the rest of your market.
FAQs about storytelling in sales
What is the power of storytelling in sales?
Storytelling creates differentiation, and differentiation is key to driving most purchase decisions. Without a strong story, every competitor’s pitch flattens out to relative equality, leaving the buyer little choice but to make their selection on gut instinct alone.
How does a salesperson benefit from storytelling?
Anyone can regurgitate product benefits, performance metrics, or corporate statistics. The winning salesperson brings their data points to life by adding recognizable stories in a compelling vision of success that reaches far beyond any number or KPI.
How do you connect with people in sales?
As Tony Robbins says, “Engaging people is about meeting their needs, not yours.” Successful sales require successful relationships, built on genuine interest in others and honest dedication to serving them above serving yourself. If your honesty doesn’t shine through, a fellow salesperson will spot it a mile away and take their business elsewhere.
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