The Power of Storytelling in Sales

I have always believed in the power of storytelling, particularly in sales. One of my mentors years ago told me that “great salespeople are great story tellers.” Peter Guber, in his wonderful book Tell to Win writes that “stories provide emotional transportation.” I have always taken that to mean that stories are capable of moving people from where they are today to a point in the future where their problems or pain have been solved. The field of psychology calls this the Narrative Transportation Theory which suggests that when people lose themself in a story, their attitudes and intentions change to reflect the story they are being told.

The Problem of Prospect Engagement

In my judgment the biggest problem facing salespeople today is the problem of prospect engagement – defined here as actually getting your prospect to pay attention to you. That means they finally reply to your email. That means they finally return your voicemail. Ideally, it means they finally agree to a meeting.

One of the more troubling realities is the way that many salespeople go about fighting that challenge. Their tendency is to send emails with attachments, PowerPoints and Word documents that they believe can demonstrate their company’s expertise.  But here is the problem – nobody is ever going to be engaged by a product. They will never be engaged by a document. They can only be engaged by a story.

I would encourage you to pick up a copy of Donald Miller’s book titled Building a Story Brand. Miller makes the case that nearly all Hollywood action movies are pretty much the same. There are always 3 characters: a hero, a villain and a guide who helps the hero defeat the villain. The plots change from movie to movie but the character types are always the same. If it works for Hollywood, could it work for you?

Stop boring your prospect and start telling them stories. And I mean stories about the companies you helped who were dealing with the same problems your prospect is dealing with now. I’m guessing your prospect could be a hero…if you can come alongside them as a guide and help them defeat the villains disguised as their problems and pain. Use the power of storytelling to increase your sales today!

Mark Trinkle
Chief Growth Officer

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