When was the last time you told a friend a story? "You have no idea what happened to me yesterday!" Sound familiar? The truth is that each of us is a storyteller, but most people do not realize it. Of course, some storytellers are better than others, but there are also exceptional storytellers. Nevertheless, everyone can considerably improve their storytelling skills with a bit of practice. And that practice will surely pay off if you use storytelling in sales.
Why Storytelling Works
Researchers are still debating when humans first started formulating words and sentences. But what they do agree on is that our brain is wired to think, remember, and make sense of the world in story terms. Stories are nothing more than a cause-and-effect chain of events that unfold in our minds. They allow us to grasp the meaning of our surroundings. They also enable us to vividly imagine the narrative in our minds, as if we were living it ourselves.
Scientists discovered that when people listen to a story infused with sensory information, the corresponding part of the brain is activated. For instance, when reading the following sentence: “She had hands as soft as silk," the part of the cortex predisposed to process sensory inputs of touch becomes active. An immediate consequence is that good storytellers can make listeners imagine the narrated events as if they were experiencing them first-hand.
But the second and less obvious implication is that they have the power to instill ideas in other people’s minds. This allows storytellers to influence their listeners' behavior. If you ever watched the movie Inception, you would know exactly what I am talking about. Leonardo Di Caprio is Dom Cobb, a thief who works in corporate espionage, is sent to install an idea into someone’s mind. Storytellers can actually do that without traveling into other people’s dreams. This is just one anecdote that supports Steve Jobs’ assertation that a storyteller is the most powerful person in the world.
The Power of Storytelling in Sales
Well, first, you need a story, but most importantly you need a story with a lesson that you want to convey to your audience. When you formulate your lesson as a story, you accomplish several great objectives at the same time. One advantage is that you make sure that the brain receives information as quickly and effortlessly as possible. You also help internalize such information, understand it, and memorize it.
On top of making information more memorable and personal, you enhance your own credibility and trustworthiness so that listeners are less hesitant to accept it as the truth. Additionally, they are much more likely to learn the lesson you wanted to convey to them in the first place. In the end, what you are doing is inviting listeners to adopt your view of the world.
At this point, you might be thinking: “It all sounds great. But what does storytelling have to do with sales?”. The answer is simple. The basic principle in sales is to make your customer willing to buy your products. With storytelling, you can influence customer behavior. In other words, you can direct the audience to take action and follow through with completing their purchase.
Motivating people to take action is where the incredible strength of storytelling lies. This is only one of the numerous and extraordinary benefits of using storytelling in sales. If you want to learn more about how to leverage storytelling skills to radically improve your sales success, get in touch with Andreas Langer. You can also check out 5 Fundamental Selling Skills Every Sales Person Must Have or find out more about our Trainings & Training Programs.