Stories are the lifeblood of marketing and sales.
So it’s no secret that the biggest brands in the world tell stories to motivate their audience to action.
With that in mind, why aren’t more B2B salespeople telling stories to increase their sales numbers?
Even the shortest, simplest ads in history are story-driven when you take a closer look.
Take this throwback Rolls-Royce ad, for instance.
It tells a story in a single sentence. And it hits with a punch.
It tells the reader that the Rolls-Royce ride is smooth-sailing. And a smooth ride, even today, is a luxury.
This story almost literally puts people in the driver’s seat of the product (a car). And guess what — it sold every Rolls-Royce in America. Not bad, right?
“Wait a minute…” you might be saying, “that’s advertising, not B2B sales.” Well when we peel back the layers, you’ll find there’s no difference at all. Good storytelling is all about connecting with people on a deeper level, no matter the medium.
Today I’m going to show you how to put your prospect in the “driver’s seat” of your product or service. I’m going to show you how to grab someone’s attention and keep it until you get ink on paper. But first, it’s important to know the “why” behind telling stories in sales.
5 Reasons You Must Start Telling Stories
- Stories build trust by humanizing your brand. When you talk about real products, and real people, and real problems and solutions, your brand starts to come to life. When your prospect sees your product or service as something that actually helps people, they begin to trust you with their business.
- Stories make your product or service more memorable. If I rattled off a bunch of features today, you’d be lucky to remember just one of them tomorrow. Instead, if I weave a story around two or three salient features, you’re guaranteed to remember them… probably even months from now. (i.e. Rolls-Royce clock!)
- Stories differentiate your brand. Although the most impactful brands employ stories in their marketing and sales, the truth is, most companies don’t. And certainly most salespeople don’t. So this low-hanging fruit is ripe and ready.
- Stories tap into the crocodile brain. In Oren Klaff’s book Pitch Anything, he talks about bypassing the logic-making side of our prospect’s brain and instead appealing to their “croc” brain. The croc brain is the subconscious brain — it’s the part of the brain we use to actually make decisions… decisions based on emotions, status, self-preservation, and survival. Remember, there’s nothing rational about sales.
- Stories drive action. If you want your prospect to take action, stories are where it’s at. A compelling story invites your prospect to envision their life transformed by your product or service. What more could you possibly need?
The Stories to Tell in B2B Sales
You can use your imagination when it comes to storytelling in sales. But to help kickstart your “story-selling,” here are five story types and essential story-telling tactics.
Company history. Your company has a story, so tell it! But don’t tell it in some data-centric way. Instead, talk about the founders and how they built the organization against all odds. This will humanize your brand and showcase the work ethic that you stand behind.
Your background and mission. As you know, people buy from people they trust. And the best way to build trust is to share about who you are. Tell your prospect the story about how you came to be sitting with them today. Give them a thrilling ride with plot twists and all. Just be sure to keep it somewhat balanced (they need a “trusted advisor” not Evil Knievel).
Customer success stories. These are case studies and testimonials. Don’t just tell your prospect that your service did X for a similar company. Instead, bring it to life with a story. In every story there’s a beginning (before buying your product), a middle (using your product), and end (the transformation your product brought).
Handling objections. You can (and should) overcome objections with mini stories. You’ll turn their objection around from being a potential weakness to an absolute strength. For instance, your prospect is concerned that your product is too expensive, so tell them a story of someone else who felt that same way at first… and just look at them now.
Remember, your prospect is the hero of the story. It will be tempting to position your product, or yourself, or your company as the hero. This is a serious mistake. You have to weave your stories so that your prospect comes out on top. Get this wrong and you risk losing the deal.
Other tips to sell more with stories:
- Your stories should motivate, inspire, and uplift. Every one of your stories must end on a positive note.
- Open story loops on the phones and in sales meetings. These are cliffhangers that keep your prospect engaged.
- Don’t overdo it. Whatever you do, don’t drone on and on with your stories. Instead, make them concise but memorable.
- The more sensational, the better. For instance, “One company was forced to close due to market factors; they were literally chaining up their doors when at the last second the CEO decided to make a call… when I answered the phone…” You get the idea.
- Combine stories with visuals whenever possible. This can be done in-person and in a video call. While audio (voice) is powerful — nothing is more powerful than audio + visual combined. This will help your key points to stick in your prospect’s mind for a long time.
Stories can help you connect to your prospects in such an authentic way that it’s almost guaranteed to drive more sales. Because at the end of the day, your prospects will buy from people they know and trust. And stories lay that foundation in a fun and engaging way.
Thankfully, it’s also pretty easy to tell stories. You probably tell stories all the time — whether to coworkers, friends, your spouse, or your kids. Now all you have to do is package the stories so that they do the heavy lifting when it comes to getting ink on paper. You’ve got this.
Until next time…