Becoming a Master Storyteller

Why do our brains seem to be wired to enjoy stories?

It amazes me that sales people don’t incorporate stories into their presentations.  These days, the PowerPoint slide deck is stacked with a boring mission statement, facts & figures and overall boring analytical data.

Storytelling is one of the few human traits that is universal across cultures and has been throughout history.  Think about it.  Why do we love reading great books or seeing great movies?  Stories encapsulate us and take us on a ride to places our imaginations dare dream.

In his article, The Secrets of Storytelling, author, Jeremy Hsu states that however a narrative is defined, people know it when they feel it.  Whether fiction or nonfiction, a narrative engages its audience through psychological realism – recognizable emotions and believable interactions among characters.

So, how do we, as sales people incorporate stories into our presentations.  I believe that presentations should last no more than 20 minutes.  It is scientifically proven that the human attention span in presentation settings is 20 minutes so why would you go longer?  Start with a story creating intrigue and novelty and end with story summarizing the point you want to hit home in your pitch.

If you take this approach, I promise you it will differentiate you.  Your presentations will be well received, you will hold the attention of your audience longer and most importantly you will win more deals. 

Why do you want to look like everyone else?  Your competition isn’t taking this approach – they’re still working off the basis of 45 slides with lots of cold, analytical facts that take an hour plus to present.  This is not how business is won.

Incorporating storytelling into your presentations does take practice.  It also takes some research.  Follow the points below as a starting point and practice your pitch so it flows easily and you’ll be on your way to winning more business.

  • Understand your prospects true goals and vision.  Why are they talking to you?
  • What is their source of tension?  Are they losing market share? Do they have poor customer satisfaction? Increased competition? Differentiation?  Understand what the end result is they’re looking for.
  • Once this is established, incorporate a story from your organization or something you’ve witnessed in the past.  Remember to create intrigue based on the prospects needs and the pain they’re looking for you to resolve.
  • Research hot cognitions.  This is the science that people decide they like something before they fully understand it.  It will enable you to better understand how your story is received and ways to become a more effective storyteller.
  • Your prospects have given you their time because they want to learn about new things and interesting ideas.  People want to be involved in something new, cool and unique.
  • Prospects want to understand how you overcame an obstacle and won.  Create a hero in your storytelling.  Prospects want to understand your character and the character of your business.  Be dramatic in your storytelling.
  • Control your agenda, your story and the time frame of your presentation.

Greg McKinney is a respected sales leader and is nationally know as a speaker, sales coach and consultant.  He believes in helping others and serving the good of humanity.  His phenomenally popular website www.asksalescoach.com is a must see for all sales leaders, small business owners and sales professionals.

Sign up for Greg’s free blog at www.asksalescoach.com and follow Greg on Twitter @asksalescoach