Better Selling Demands Better Storytelling

BY Tim Londergan
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There isn’t a stronger connection between people than storytelling.” – Jimmy Neil Smith

Stories shape the foundation of human communication and contribute to our common experiences. Furthermore, stories well-​told connect us to our listeners in a manner unmatched by any other means of communication. Therefore, to succeed in conveying messages about your product or service, better storytelling is essential. 

Discover the basics of better storytelling

Whether you’re struggling to get sales prospects to buy into your message or trying to get the most out of an upcoming presentation, effective storytelling could be the key. First, as with any sales effort, you need to know your buyer and their motivation toward your product. What brings you together, what is their role in the buying process, and what pain points are they experiencing? Second, you must apply the four principles of storytelling as defined by Robert Carnes. I've explained two of the principles below.


The main character gives your story an identity and a focus. For example, your main character may be a generic customer or an actual customer you served in the past. Importantly, the customer should be the compelling hero of your sales story. During a sales presentation, your audience needs someone to identify with and to root for.


Stories without conflict do not maintain audience interest. As you put together content for your email or your presentation, set the scenario to include conflict. The main character, the business owner, faces relatable risks and the potential for loss or disappointment. What options do they have? What will they gain if they choose the first option? What will they lose if they don't select the second option?

What you say and how you say it

The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.” ‑Brandon Sanderson, fantasy and science fiction writer.

In "The Hierarchy of Sales Credibility," found in the "SalesCred™ — How Buyers Qualify Sellers," C. Lee Smith emphasizes the importance of “What you say” as level 2 and “How you say it” as level 3. Justifiably, these steps in the hierarchy are foundational to sales communication and fall neatly in line with better storytelling. Carefully prepared value statements combined with professional delivery methods can enhance your credibility. What’s more, Smith provides dozens of tips and reminders to keep you on track with content and delivery of your critical selling messages.

An analysis of good storytelling

Storytelling … good storytelling … is a vital component of a marketing campaign.” –Gary Halbert, author, marketing practitioner, copywriter

Recently, Jonah Berger, Wharton marketing professor, revealed an analytical approach to better storytelling. Significantly, he and his colleagues set out to devise a way to measure language to determine “what makes some narratives more successful than others.” Painstakingly, they covered movies, television shows and academic papers to isolate three criteria apparent in each:

  • Speed
  • Volume
  • Circuitousness

Understanding these components and knowing how they impact your storytelling can help you refine your narrative or enhance your elevator pitch. Speed, or pacing, helps your progression of ideas in the allotted time frame. Likewise, volume helps to align and cover related subjects point by point. Lastly, circuitousness determines the chosen path to conclusion, be it direct or a more dramatic, indirect path.

Regardless of your mission, better storytelling can trigger emotions, inspire imagination or stimulate action toward your goal of gaining a customer. Refreshingly, stories are a shared experience, and they represent how we prefer to receive communication. When you do a great job delivering your story, you're one step closer to securing the sale.

Photo by Rain Bennett on Unsplash