How to Sell to People Using Stories

BY Jessica Helinski
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There’s growing awareness of storytelling’s power. More reps are interested in learning how to sell to people using stories. While this skill may not come naturally to everyone, it can be developed with a bit of practice. 

Why Learn How to Sell to People Using Stories? 

Storytelling is a powerful way to connect with others. It can inspire emotions and drive actions. And in sales, it can be what makes a pitch connect with the prospect and win their business. As Integrity Solutions points out, stories can engage and inspire in ways a PowerPoint can’t.

They bring you and your audience into alignment,” Mark Fisher writes, “[narrowing] the distance between you and the other person.”

Storytelling also helps establish trust and credibility. Rather than using a pitch to push a solution, storytellers show buyers the possibilities they can provide. They show how the solution integrates into the buyer’s reality and the impact it can have on their success. 

What Makes a Story “Compelling”

When understanding how to sell to people with storytelling, reps must know that a compelling story should be their focus. Gina Fong and Esther Choy, writing for Harvard Business Review, say crafting a story that compels is key.

Sellers must tell a story that uses “a narrative that explains why your product or service will meet someone’s needs.”

This, they say, involves:

  • Listening
  • Making an emotional connection
  • Thinking from the customer’s point of view

These elements will give sellers a solid foundation of knowledge not only about the prospect — but they also tell about their business, their needs, and their pain points. They also will have built rapport and trust, which set the stage for a successful story. 

When crafting a story, sellers need to combine their knowledge of their solution with what they’ve learned about the prospect. 

Often, sellers tell stories only from their perspective. And while their story is rooted in experience, it doesn’t compel the buyer. Instead, they need to approach storytelling from the prospect’s point of view. 

Highlight what it is about your product or service that will meet the customer’s needs,” Fong and Choy explain.

Tell Stories Differently

Storytelling in sales must use a narrative that directly connects with the buyer. Replace your own opinions with elements that illustrate the specific ways your solution will deliver value. You can still mention specific features but do so in a way that aligns with the buyer’s own needs. 

Think of them as the main character in the story. Use this perspective to drive the narrative, suggests Tom Anziano, Business News Daily. 

While everyone loves a good story, we especially love those that involve us,” he writes. 

Questions to Ask When Creating a Story

Learning how to sell to people using stories can be intimidating at first. But the more you try, using these best practices, the more natural it will feel. As you craft a story, ask yourself questions. Doing so can help you make sure it’s progressing in a way that will connect with the prospect. 

Fisher recommends revisiting these questions each time you take on storytelling: 

  • How does this story relate to the prospect’s specific experience?
  • How can I make my customer the “main character” of the story?
  • What kinds of reactions, emotions or opinions do I want the prospect to experience?
  • What can I do or say to make them want to hear more?

You’ll find that your efforts to wow prospects with a story will pay off. Thanks to the picture you’ve painted, the buyer understands exactly how your solution addresses their needs. And also how your solution helps them meet their goals. 

You’ve also triggered emotions and developed trust, both of which have a major influence on purchase decisions. And unlike other sellers, you’ve kept the focus of your pitch squarely on the buyer. 

And if you’re looking to enhance your storytelling skills even more, consider these other expert tips.

Photo by Elevate Digital