When I mention storytelling in sales, some people instantly shut off. Stories are too fluffy, they say. Cold hard facts are what sell. Data shows you have the best product, the most efficient service, the lowest price – that’s what people want to hear.
Let me tell you why this is wrong.
My colleague recently went to hear an author speak. The author started by holding up three objects that would play a role in her talk, one of which was a sliced pickle taped to a piece of paper. (The second object was a hinge, and the third she can’t remember.) Now a pickle taped to paper was odd and caught everyone’s attention. What could it mean?
When she held up the hinge she talked about her life coming “unhinged.” When the author got to the part of her speech where she held up the paper with the pickle, it felt as if the whole audience leaned forward in anticipation. Finally, we get to find out what the deal was with the pickle.
There’s a scientific reason why the audience was captivated by the pickle.
As humans, we are hardwired to communicate by telling stories. It is our brain’s natural language, thanks to the neocortex. That’s the outer layer of our brains where we process everything coming at us.
When you hear a story, your neocortex ‘lights up’ as it searches for a similar experience. Our logic, senses, and emotions come together as our neocortex predicts what will come next. If we are presented with something surprising (like a pickle taped to paper), our attention is engaged. If we get what was predicted, we’re bored.
MRIs have shown that the brains of the storyteller and the listener light up in the same areas. We share the experience together, whether we actually experienced it or are just hearing or reading about it.
Now, facts and logic don’t have this effect. When presented with facts, we might remember one or two of them. But a story can create new pathways in our brains. This is the power of STORIES over FACTS.
Stories enable us to connect on a level that facts don’t.
Salespeople are generally armed with data and facts. Sure, they are likely compelling reasons why someone should buy your product. But they are much more powerful when woven throughout stories.
Due to how our brains are wired, people probably won’t remember the logical arguments for why they should buy from you or do business with you. What they will remember was how their interaction with you made them feel. They will associate you with their problem being solved.
Or with a pickle that represented a really good story. (It had to do with an artwork of a pickle stuck to a ceiling that sold for $10,000. I hope that buyer has a good story.)
You can enhance your storytelling skills to make a real impression and connect with people. Message me to find out about my “Storytelling for Sales” course and how I can help you and your team.