The POWER (Point) of Story Telling

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30th April 2017

Julie Dean
We all have different ways to stay current on the latest news and trends that will better ourselves and the world we live in. For me, as odd as it sounds, my favorite daily fix comes from Brain Science. Yep, every day I can find some new research that presents a new belief or finding, confirmed by yet another scientific study of the brain.

Why is this so interesting to me? Well, beyond that it’s just plain fascinating, it is because all the studies and comprehensive research support what I do everyday as a sales executive. One area I’ve been focusing on a lot lately is the importance of telling a good story. Think about it: What young child doesn’t want to hear a heroic tale where good fights evil and wins? Stories have staying power, too. After they hear the story, children will then dress as the hero and model behavior around being good – just like the character in the story they heard. Telling stories is how we share, it’s how we teach, it’s how we learn, and yes – it is the fundamental base of how we sell.

A quick Google search on the word ‘storytelling’ will produce about 71,700,000 results! Here’s Wikipedia’s definition: “Storytelling is the social and cultural activity of sharing stories, often with improvisation, theatrics, or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and instilling moral values.”

Stories are good for the soul.

They ground us when we’re under pressure and give us messages of hope, love, and even determination and perseverance when we need them. The business world is no different. That’s why stories are so important in sales.

We’ve all sat in meetings where the presenter says, “Welcome, let’s get straight to the facts…”, opens his PowerPoint, and it happens: Zzzzzzz – the mind-numbing buzz takes over our brain and we drift to our subconscious land of boredom. Science has proven at the end of those meetings, participants might recall 10% of what was presented. One reason why: this overload of facts and bulleted information has nothing to attach itself to your brain. In sales we refer to that as “Death by Powerpoint.” However, if the presentation is done in a different way, and the information is told as a story, in the right way – you can survive and thrive in any sales situation.

Knowing the “science” behind the POWER of a story in sales is crucial. Stories visually paint a picture in the your prospect’s mind. A story can emotionally connect them to a feeling, a need, and yes, the holy grail – the ‘want’.

Here’s an example. I recently listened to a podcast and the speaker was using an iceberg to make her point. She knew that, as with most presentations, information gets lost. So to be remembered she urged the audience to paint a picture in their minds of the “tall lady with the iceberg.” The result? When information is presented in a well-told story, your mind creates a visual, which makes the story much more memorable. An iceberg on its own isn’t that interesting, but when you put a tall lady next to it, it becomes much more memorable. A well-told story sparks the need for change. It can ignite the feeling of survival (fear) and ultimately when done well, it will change a simple “want” to a strong “desire to have.”’


In sales the ‘desire to have’ is the closed deal, but how do you get there?


When your story is told the right way it creates an emotional reaction from your buyer because it speaks to both sides of the decision-making parts of the brain. The first side, the emotional one (or your ‘Chimp’ brain, from a model by Prof. Steven Peters) is quick to react with excitement or panic. Your story then needs to support the ‘want.’ If your story is credible to the other side of your brain, the rational one (human), it will rationalize the value or risk, and give the thumbs up or down to the decision.

Now to make a story even better, if you tell that story while drawing simple numbers and adding quantitative facts (including hand-drawn pictures) that build along with your told story, you will capture your audience visually. By telling your story differently, it will instantly become more credible and your audience will remember it.