Technology products and services can be complex. They also solve complex and complicated problems. Storytelling can better explain complex ideas while also allowing the salesperson to create an empathetic and emotional bond with their audience. It builds trust with your audience quickly. So how do you build a great story? Edith Crnkovich shares the 6 basic elements of a great sales story in this episode of Sales Reinvented.
Outline of This Episode
- [0:43] Why is storytelling an important skill?
- [1:28] You’re actually a natural storyteller
- [5:01] The ingredients of a great story
- [6:42] Become a good collector of stories
- [8:05] Embrace these resources to improve your storytelling
- [10:16] Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
- [14:27] Why do stories need to be concise?
- [15:20] Don’t downplay the power of storytelling
You’re actually a natural storyteller (here’s how to perfect the craft)
Edith believes that everyone is gifted at storytelling—they’re just not used to telling stories in a business environment. You meet with friends and share stories about your day. You share stories about your day with your spouse and children. Every human being knows how to tell stories—it’s an innate skill. The problem is that people think they can’t tell stories in a business environment, especially in the tech world. People forget that they’re natural storytellers. But you can always learn how to tell stories better.
The 6 basic elements of a great sales story
There are six basic elements inside any business story:
- What is the major theme that you want to talk about? Is it aligned with your audience?
- What is special about the setting, time, and place? Time can be important when it comes to being competitive in business.
- What is the plot of the story? What series of events are connected to the central theme?
- Who are the characters in your business drama? What are their aspirations, agendas, and fears?
- Who or what is in conflict? Conflict is central to telling a really good story.
- How do the characters change or transform through a challenge?
This is how Edith teaches businesspeople to unpack storytelling. But what makes a great story? Edith believes it comes down to three elements:
- Surprise: You want to surprise your audience so they don’t know where you’re going with the story.
- Tension: You want tension and excitement, usually by introducing conflict. Conflict usually reveals a deeper meaning and highlights values, weaknesses, motivations, etc.
- Relatability: The audience must relate to the story emotionally and intellectually.
What are the attributes of a great storyteller? Listen to hear Edith’s thoughts!
Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
Edith shared some savvy storytelling dos and don’ts:
- Start with a story and end with a story. When you have to present a proposal to decision-makers, many salespeople start by sharing an agenda. Throw that out. Make the first slide an interesting story that will hint at the customer's problem, the solution, and create an empathetic bond. Ending with a story allows you to choose one point of value to deliver to the customer—making them the hero of the story.
- How you craft your story is important. It needs to be emotional, but concise. Make it no more than three minutes. A crisp story holds attention. You need to hold tension without losing the attention of your audience.
- While you want to surprise your audience, you must quickly show how it connects to the business solution that you’re offering.
- Don’t tell a random story to warm up your audience. Business people don’t want a random story. They want to hear a story that leads to how you’ll solve their problem.
- Don’t tell your story in a monotonous tone. Put some life into it.
- If you’re going to share a feel-good story—and aren’t prepared to share the bad and the ugly—don’t bother with the story. Conflict and resolution are key.
Don’t downplay the power of storytelling
Edith worked on a health technology product that hospitals in Europe had been using (it was fairly new). They were trying to bring the product into Australia. However, Australians don’t like to consider products that haven’t yet been proven effective in Australia. Hospital budgets are quite tight, often given to them by the government. Because of this, they are very careful about decisions with technology projects.
So the sales team put together a proposal for a prospect. They called Edith in to help them. Edith advised them to start their presentation with a story that would emotionally resonate. So they shared how many people who suffer from a stroke die. Sadly, strokes are highly preventable and far too many people are dying from them. If these people had access to their medical technology, they could have survived. She helped them craft the story in about 350 words.
They continued to weave storytelling throughout the proposal. When the sales team turned up to give this unsolicited proposal, it hit on an emotional level. They created curiosity. The decision-makers felt understood. What happened next? Listen to the whole episode to learn more!
Resources & People Mentioned
Connect with Edith Crnkovich
Connect With Paul Watts
Subscribe to SALES REINVENTED
Audio Production and Show notes by
PODCAST FAST TRACK