Great business leaders know the power of story. YouTube is packed full of their stories, stories they tell at product launches, conferences and graduation speeches. Yet, many in sales struggle to see how storytelling can benefit them or their companies.
In this article, I will highlight three ways stories can increase your sales.
Stories add value
Stories make consumers value products or services more. The significant objects experiment1 demonstrated this nicely. In their experiment, Ron Walker and Joshua Green bought thrift-store objects from eBay. They then had authors write fictional stories for these objects before reselling them on eBay with the story.
What impact did the stories have? They originally paid $128.74 for their objects. They resold them for $3,612.51. Adding a story increased their collective value by over 2,800 per cent.
Stories help you prospect
Stories also help salespeople to prospect by tapping into two of Cialdini’s principles of influence. The first principle is that we buy more from people we like2. Sharing a personal story with a prospect helps build rapport, trust and familiarity. It makes the salesperson more likable.
The second principle is social proof. Cialdini2 found that we are more likely to do things when we see others do them too. And we are even more likely to do them when these others are similar to us.
Salespeople can reap the rewards of social proof by telling a prospect about a time their company or product helped a customer just like them. This customer story is also more memorable, meaningful and engaging than a straightforward pitch.
Stories set you apart from your competitors
An effective way to make your business stand out from your competitors is to tell your founding story. No business has it easy at the start. So, your founding story is going to be chocked full of challenges, the key ingredient of a great story.
Your origin story will reveal your reason for being, your values, and what makes you unique. And because stories have been proven to be among the most memorable forms of communication, people will remember this.
Another story that will set you apart is your outstanding customer service story. Remember a time an employee went above and beyond to help a customer in need. Remember a time that you sacrificed financial gain because it wasn’t in your customer’s best interests. These stories will show the amazing lengths you will go to and sacrifices you will make to benefit your customers.
A business story isn’t a novel. Thankfully. A business story is a short, true event in the life of your business. Find a story that helps you achieve your sales goal. Work on it. Practise it. Tell it.
1 - Walker, R and Glen, R. Significant objects and how they got that way [online] Significantobjects.com. Available at: Significant Objects | ...and how they got that way [Accessed: 13 September 2021]
2 - Cialdini, R.B. (1984) Influence: the psychology of persuasion Harper Collins Publishers