Sales & Storytelling: Is Your Story Missing Something?
Keys to a good sales story.
“What unites people? Armies? Gold? Flags? Stories. There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it.”Tyrion Lannister, Acting Hand of the King; Master of Coin; Lord of Casterly Rock.
Let’s face it, as a salesperson, you are just a storyteller. A weaver of tomes, a spewer of yarns. Some $1 words there for you this morning.
Sales is all about telling stories, good stories that touch the heart, hit home and open the wallet. And good salespeople tell awesome, enthralling and captivating ones. Leading their prospects down a trail where they want, even desire, the next chapter. Average salespeople, eh, not so much. If you want examples, just search for webinars in your industry and watch them. You’ll find good ones, and bad ones. The bad ones have one big thing in common. Their stories suck. They lead you down a fractured trail, creating questions in your mind that don’t get answered. Their plots lead nowhere and their characters…well, they are about as exciting as a brochure for dentures at the dentist’s office.
If you want to improve your sales game, focus on the story. And tell it well. Here are the basics of a good story.
The Five Building Blocks of a Rocking Sales Story
The art of storytelling. When you’re reading a great story, you feel like you’ve been sucked into the world of the characters. After it’s over, it stays with you. Its protagonists are the kinds of people you’ll miss long after the story’s final page has been turned. Amazing sales presentations are the same. Your prospects leave feeling a charge of energy, a desire for your product or service. So, how does one go about writing and telling a masterpiece? Every great story be it fiction or nonfiction, shares certain characteristics. The following are the five most important things that you’re your story must have.
One of the most important parts of any story is its protagonist. The protagonist, who is also called the lead or hero, should have well-defined internal and external motivations. The target audience’s attention, sympathy, and comprehension should be focused here. The best protagonists have traits that make them seem larger than life and are relatable to the audience. This person should be more appealing, sneaky, and smart than the average person, but not so much more that the reader thinks he or she is too perfect. It’s important for the protagonist to have flaws to balance out their exceptional traits, but those flaws shouldn’t be so severe that the reader can’t stand them. In either case, you’re making a good choice.
Sales tie: Your buying persona is the hero…make it so.
It’s important to make the antagonist engaging for the same reason you did with the hero. A formidable antagonist can be a great catalyst for a strong protagonist’s journey of self-discovery and development. This figure is often referred to as the antagonist or nemesis of the story’s protagonist. A well-developed antagonist will have goals that are diametrically opposed to the protagonists. The antagonist will stop at nothing to prevent the protagonist from getting what they want. Stories need conflict to function as a driving force. The antagonist should not be the embodiment of evil, but rather the agent of that evil. An authentic story can only be told if the reader can empathize with the villain. The reader should feel satisfied that the bad guy ultimately gets what he deserves.
Sales tie in: This can be a person, or a thing that causes the problem you are solving.
Relating to or involving an Inciting Incident
An event that sets your characters in motion should be part of the exposition at the beginning of your story. The first two or three chapters of your story will most likely consist of the exposition. The protagonist, the antagonist, and the story’s central problem should all be introduced at this point.
Your opening needs to hook the reader immediately and make them care about the story and the characters. While the pace of your story will largely be determined by the genre you’re writing in, it’s important for all great stories to immediately grab the reader’s attention.
Sales tie in: The incident can also be an impending event to drive close.
By definition, conflict is an upheaval of some sort, be it an obstacle to be surmounted, a mission to be undertaken, a secret to be solved, or a fight to the finish. Strife makes for interesting reading because it builds tension. You can’t have any forward movement in your story without some sort of conflict. It’s what forces them into interesting situations where the reader can watch them develop in real time. If there is no tension in the story, then the reader is presented with a boring scene in which everyone is safe and happy.
There are essentially two types of conflict that make a great story. The first type of conflict is that which takes place within each character’s own mind and heart. The characters are also affected by the second type of conflict, which is external to their minds but still has an impact. In any story, there are three primary conflict stages where both internal and external conflicts occur: in the setup, the middle, and the climax (resolution).
If you want your writing to entertain, then every page needs to contribute to the central conflict. Your story’s conflict should permeate every single page. And this ever-entertaining element called conflict must be infused into every single scene, word, and aspect of your story.
Sales tie in: Conflict is the problem you solve or make go away.
In the end, the story builds to the climax, where the protagonist ultimately triumphs over the antagonist. Make sure that the story ends with a logical and satisfying resolution to the conflict. The time has come for the reveal that you have been building up to so carefully and dramatically. A great story should remain in the mind of the reader long after they have finished reading it. While there is a great deal of variation between the various story genres, all good stories contain several similar elements. If you want your story to be successful, you need to make sure it has these five features.
Sales tie in: The cure, or your solution result.
Does your sales pitch or deck tell a story? Relate to this post the next time you review your sales story and add some spice and character to your pitch. Happy selling.