If you want to use storytelling in business and in sales, you might think you need to have the skills of a comedian or an actor. But that’s not the case!
Storytelling in business is a relatively simple skill to develop. All you need to do is to follow this simple 3-part structure to storytelling.
3 Steps to Storytelling in Business
1. Identify the problem.
In the first part of your story, you’ll need to identify a clear problem. This sets the context for the story and helps engage your audience.
When you are sharing the problem, make sure to provide context around it. For example, you could say something like, “I worked with a company very similar to yours. They had eight offices across the country and were experiencing slow sales in three of them. In fact, two offices were losing a combined $500k per month, which was preventing the company from hitting its targets.”
One thing you’ll notice in the example above is that I used numbers. When you tell stories with numbers, people will connect to those numbers. But you need to put them in context and give people time to process them.
You may also notice that I used the phrase “very similar to yours.” Storytelling in business and sales is generally intended to help people discover the value in your offerings. In order to truly understand your value, they need to feel that you can solve their problems. So make sure you tell stories where you solved similar problems. When appropriate, emphasize the similarities.
A best practice is to develop a list of the common problems you solve for your clients. Review our eBook on how to sell anything to anyone for a simple process to develop this valuable sales tool.
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2. Share your solution.
Once you’ve set the stage by identifying the problem, it’s time to share your solution. What did you and your company do to resolve this problem?
Describe your solution, but don’t go into too much detail. It might sound something like this.
“We evaluated the sales and management teams in all eight offices and realized two things. Each office was siloed and wasn’t sharing best practices, and the low performing offices were lacking effective sales management. We worked with the client to build a sales and management PlayBook, and we trained all the managers on the basic functions of sales management and leadership.”
Depending on your offering, be as specific as appropriate. You may have standard offerings, in which case you might say something more simple, such as, “They purchased our X20 model.”
If your offering is more consultative, you’ll likely need a bit of a longer explanation. Make sure you don’t go into too much detail, though. That could derail the conversation or confuse your prospect. And it would be more likely to expose concepts that are not relevant to your audience.
By the way, if the idea of a Sales PlayBook sounds intriguing to you, check out our eBook with a simple process to develop your own PlayBook.
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3. Provide tangible benefits.
The last part of this structure for storytelling in business is the most important. It’s where you actually demonstrate the value of your offering.
To complete your story, share the tangible benefits your client experienced. It may sound something like this.
“In the three months after they engaged us, the client experienced growth in all eight branches. The three which had been losing business experienced the most growth and are now exceeding their sales targets. They are climbing out of the hole they dug in the first part of the year and are now on track to catch up by the end of Q3.”
Again, note that I included some specific numbers. It can be difficult to know the exact results of your solution, but it’s worth taking the time to figure it out.
If you have a client post-mortem process, this is a key question to ask. And if not, check in with your current and former clients to learn about the value they received.
Summary: 3 Steps for Storytelling in Business
As a summary, make sure to follow this simple structure for storytelling in business and in sales.
- Identify the problem.
- Share your solution.
- Provide tangible benefits.