Increase Sales with Storytelling
People buy from businesses that understand their pain. So, how do you show prospective customers that you know what they’re going through (and that you have the solution)? Storytelling.
For hundreds of thousands of years, storytelling has been used as an effective communication tool. But it hasn’t been until recently that businesses have started tapping into its power as a sales tool.
In fact, research shows that following a presentation, 63% of people remember stories. Only 5% remember a statistic.
Storytelling is memorable. It’s how you entertain, impart lessons, and make connections with potential customers. And it can be used to demonstrate empathy and educate how your services or products meet your prospects’ needs.
You may already have implemented storytelling into your sales tactic arsenal. For example, case studies or testimonials frequently utilize the power of narratives; but you can integrate storytelling into your sales flow at every stage.
Whether you’re a seasoned sales pro looking to hone your skills or still in training, learning to sell your story — and not just your business — can significantly move the needle on your sales numbers.
Why Storytelling in Sales Works
Compelling stories transcend logic and tap into the emotional aspect of purchasing decisions. By evoking positive emotions, you can create a powerful bond between your brand and audience. Bonus points if you can authentically integrate your brand values into your storytelling to showcase your transparency and accountability.
Emotional connection (pathos)
While most people believe they make decisions based on logic, the reality is that emotion drives most decision-making. With stories, you can create space for a positive emotional connection between your brand and your audience.
You may remember the concept of pathos from English class. Pathos, a Greek word and persuasive technique that can be traced back to Aristotle, is utilized in marketing to harness emotion and influence action.
How do you create positive emotional associations with your business? Emphasize how you’ve positively impacted people’s lives or made a difference in the world. Showcase the before-and-after scenarios or illustrate how your products or services have brought about positive change.
By tapping into your prospects’ emotions, you can create personal connections with them and better influence their purchasing choices. Research shows that 95% of our purchasing decision-making happens in the subconscious mind. Meaning, our preconceptions, associations, and emotional mind are doing the heavy lifting.
Values are a key component of brand identity, and strong brand values lead to better business results. More and more, people make purchasing decisions based on values, and authenticity is a core value buyers prioritize.
A Forrester report revealed that 68% of US consumers say that a company’s social responsibility reputation has an impact on their purchasing. On top of that, firms that are driven by values reported greater revenue growth than other companies.
How do you apply this information to your business? To truly connect with your audience, you need to show consistency in how you apply your brand values.
This doesn’t mean you share your company’s green initiative (full of corporate jargon) on a lengthy website page. It also isn’t about you throwing trendy buzzwords at your audience to show your values. Any prospect will see through that if it isn’t authentic.
You need to identify what’s truly important to your customers and then prioritize the values that also align with your business. Clearly communicate those values in your storytelling in an authentic, vulnerable way.
Storytelling can be used to communicate your authenticity by showcasing your obstacles AND your wins. It helps you connect with your audience in a way that’s relatable and transparent, and shows that you’re not afraid to hold yourself accountable.
Types of Sales Stories
When it comes to sales, storytelling takes various forms, each serving a specific purpose. When and how you use each type of story depends on your specific objectives, audience, and stage of the sales process you’re in. Think about the emotional connection you want to establish when you choose your story.
#1. Success story: Also called social proof, these stories highlight the real ways your business has helped your customers. A good customer success story includes a hero (your customer), an obstacle they overcame with your service(s), and a successful outcome. Get as specific as possible, demonstrate the before and after, and don’t be afraid to use actual quotes.
#2. Hypothetical story: Set a scene for your audience that resembles their scenario and walk them through potential problems (even ones they can’t see yet) and ideal, thoughtful solutions. Phrases like “What if…?” and “Imagine if…?” can be used to help your prospects envision a solution they may not even be aware of yet.
#3. Your story: The story of your business and your journey to where you’re at now can be compelling and nurture your authenticity. These stories humanize your brand and allow you to discuss past setbacks, overcoming obstacles, and lofty goals. Just remember to always position your audience as the hero as often as possible, even in your own story, by sharing your drive to help people overcome x, y, z pain points.
#4. Product demonstrations: These stories involve showcasing your product or service in action. Instead of simply listing features and benefits, you create a narrative around a customer using your offering to achieve their goals or enhance their lives. Product demonstrations engage the audience by visually and emotionally connecting them to your solution.
How to Tell Better Sales Stories
The best writers know that good storytelling comes down to specific techniques that have proven successful in the past. Following the 5 steps below will give you a framework to create your own narrative based on your audience and objectives.
#1. Listen first: Ask any writer – they’ll tell you that the first step to good copy is listening to your audience. Start by talking to satisfied clients about their story. You’ll never truly understand your role in their business until you hear their perspective. This will help you craft hero messaging that clearly resonates with your prospects.
#2. Your audience is the hero: It’s their story, and they are the winners. Their desires, challenges, and aspirations become the driving force behind the story. This is the key to creating a powerful emotional connection and demonstrating that your product or service is the catalyst that helps them overcome obstacles and fulfill their goals.
#3. Representation: Tailor your stories to your audience. The most persuasive story is the one that best represents your customer’s industry, business size, and region. By understanding their specific context and challenges, you can craft a story that speaks directly to their experiences and helps them see themselves reflected in the story.
#4. Humanize your story: On the surface, stories about sales may appear to be mostly transactional, but that’s not the case. Businesses are made up of humans. Your stories should be about people trying to improve their clients’ outcomes. Consider the human element – what motivates people – when crafting a story.
#5. Keep it focused on your message: When crafting sales stories, every element of the story should serve to reinforce and emphasize your core message so it’s clear and doesn’t include unnecessary distractions. Practice refining and streamlining the plot to make your story more impactful and to better communicate your message.
Support Your Sales Efforts with One Affiniti
Learning how to increase sales with storytelling is a practice that takes time. With the right support in place, you can determine what types of stories you should be telling and track how they’re impacting your business.
At OneAffiniti, we help sales-minded businesses connect with past and future customers through our in-house marketing platform powered with professional content created by marketing experts. Click here to learn more about our services.