Did you know that you are 22 times more likely to remember a fact if it is told to you in a story? But stories do not only make facts and figures more memorable; they also create audience engagement by stimulating areas of the brain that information alone doesn’t reach. The graphic from Ethos3, a presentation-making company, illustrates how the brain ‘on data’ activates the language processing and comprehension areas while the brain ‘on stories’ is active in many regions. The brain processes stories like it is living through those moments, taking in sensory data like movement, touch, colors, shapes and sounds. By involving stories in your selling process, you can help your customer picture and feel themselves in the story and show how your company’s offering will help them find success.
STORYTELLING THROUGHOUT THE SALES PROCESS
Before the Sale
Compelling stories have a well-developed protagonist and plot. For something to happen in the story there must be a main character and a conflict that that character must face. Before meeting with a customer to sell them something, you must understand what sort of sales story would be engaging to them. In a business sales story, your customer should be the main character. They have their goals to work towards and pain points along the way. Do some research and try to identify what the challenges are that your potential customer might be facing and start to develop a clear narrative around how your offering can help them on their hero’s journey. A great way to do this is by thinking about customers that you have had in the past that probably face similar issues to your target customer. Then think through the results your customer obtained with the help of your product/service.
Interacting with the Potential Customer
Once it comes time to sell to the target customer, stories can transform a dull presentation into an engaging conversation. If you are face-to-face with customers, this is a chance to better understand the hero of your story. Get to know more about the challenges that they are overcoming to better tailor your sales story. Remember that when you are telling a sales story, you are not selling a product or service. You are selling an outcome. The customer should be able to picture how your offering will make them better off. By bringing in past examples and combining storytelling with information/data about outcomes you have seen with customers in the past, you can bring credibility to your company and paint a clear picture of positive outcomes to the customer.
Closing the Sale
Stories are a great tool throughout this process, but do not get lost in showing past successes of your company and lose sight of the story of the customer in front of you. Make sure that they feel that this potential for success is a part of their story and address their specific needs. If the customer can clearly picture the outcome of doing business with you and this outcome is one that they feel strongly inclined towards, they are ready and excited to continue their story with your company. Always keep in mind that the sales story should be formed with the intention of closing a sale with a particular customer and must provide a compelling case for why that potential customer should purchase from you.
Following Up with the Customer
The story does not end with the sale. By following up with your customers you are making sure that the outcomes that you promised are being fulfilled. This enables you to make sure that the sales story rings true in practice, enhancing your customer relationships and giving you valuable insights for the future. Learning from customers using your product/service heightens your ability to identify and address their challenges and gives you additional stories to use throughout the sales process in the future.
In a study by Gartner, a research company, 70% of executive buyers reported that customer stories are the best way to differentiate a company from its competitors. Stories can make your company stand out and when it comes to making sales, stories can make all the difference. Every interaction with potential customers is a chance to make your company an essential element in their story and journey towards their goals. Whether it is before you have met with the customer or after they’ve been working with you for years, stories can help you illustrate and deliver on your promise of adding value.
Learn more about selling through stories with the help of Magic Flight Studios here.