Should I be telling stories when selling?

“Telling stories when selling makes it as easy as possible for the Prospect to understand your message” – Owen Wood

I loved Primary School. Free milk, naps whenever you liked, not to mention the stories! I loved how our teacher would tell us stories about Witches, Goblins, and animals which could all speak perfect English for some reason. I have ADHD and for anyone who’s met me, you’ll know that I’m quite an energetic guy. If I’m like this now, just imagine what I was like as a child!

Stories are a great way to convey a message

In school, I could hardly sit still. Except for storytime. The stories my teacher would tell me kept me enamored. The stories would all have underlying messages too. Important life lessons all wrapped up in an engaging story. That was the first time I noticed how incredibly powerful stories can be. Nobody likes to be lectured on a subject, but we love to be engaged in a story.

Telling stories when selling


Telling stories when selling

Fast forward to the tender age of 19 in Australia and my first sales job as a door-to-door salesperson. I can’t tell you how nervous I felt when I started selling things. We were given this pitch to say which I really wasn’t comfortable with. I don’t do well with remembering scripts. I’m usually a lot more organic in my conversations, I know generally where I want the conversation to go and I find a good way to get it there.

The horrific pitch essentially had 3 rules:

  1. Don’t let the other person speak, other than ‘Yes’ or ‘No’
  2. Be overly assumptive in the sale by filling out the sales form as you pitch them
  3. Keep talking until they say ‘Yes’

For someone who’s never sold anything before I thought “wow this is a bit full on!” But my harsh Sales Manager at the time insisted that I used this pitch. I remember walking to each house, trying to remember the words to the pitch. This got me all worked up. I was so nervous that when I knocked on the door I’d often be glad when nobody answered the door.

With no confidence in the pitch, I didn’t come across very well and as such, I didn’t get any sales in that first week. As it was a commission only sales job, I didn’t make any money!

That weekend

A saving grace happened over the weekend in the form of a TV ad. I saw this advert about telling stories to kids and it reminded me of storytime back in school. I had the idea to turn the horrible pitch into a conversational dialogue, where I used examples to convey points instead of throwing facts at them.

Long story short, it worked! I secured enough sales to be Top Seller of the Week! What’s more, I actually enjoyed selling now because it was a natural conversation. The sales continued to wherein in the short space of 6 weeks, I had my own Sales Team. Within 10 weeks, we were headed to another state to set up a new sales office! That was my first taste of how enjoyable sales could be. It took me down the path to where we are now!

The importance of telling stories when selling

Did you enjoy that? Telling stories when selling can help to increase your ability to make powerful points and persuade others. If you can tell a story with a relevant message neatly included, you can convey key points in a powerful way. Being a good storyteller can give your company credentials which can put you head and shoulders above the competition.

Why does telling stories when selling work?

Do you know why telling stories when selling works? Because it makes it really easy for the recipient to see your point.

You might be the most qualified person in the room for the job. If you drone on making boring, irrelevant points then you aren’t making it as easy as possible for the person to see that you’re the most qualified person in the room. 

The corporate version of Storytime

When we were children, Storytime involved such classics as Jack & Jill and Humpty Dumpty. Examples, testimonials, and case studies are like the corporate version of Storytime.

“Telling stories when selling makes it as easy as possible for the Prospect to understand your message” – Owen Wood

Help your sales team to increase their sales by arming your them with amazing examples to shout about:

  • Made life easier – Examples of clients where you’ve simplified the way that they work
  • Saved the day – Examples of clients who you metaphorically saved their life. They were in such a dire situation and you swept in and saved the day
  • Saved money – Examples of clients that you saved them a load of money
  • Did more/less of XX – Examples of clients where you’ve gotten more results, made more efficient, did more XX or less XX (whichever one is good)

Corporate Storytime toolkit

To finish off this blog about telling stories when selling, here’s a few examples of how you can do this:

Linkedin Endorsements & Recommendations Ask a client to endorse you for specific skills or to write a recommendation

Ratings & Reviews Collect Ratings & Reviews on the best site for you e.g. Facebook, Google, Trustpilot, etc

Website Examples On your website, openly share your previous clients and examples of particularly good jobs you’ve done for them

Your Proposal A great place for telling stories when selling to put it is in the proposal that you submit to your clients. Put in quotes, statistics and easily verifiable examples of great jobs you did. Finally, use this structure to help you:

  1. The problem that they were facing
  2. What you did to help
  3. The outcome of what you did and how that solved the problem
  4. What that meant for them in a wider context
  5. When pitching, bring it back to the Prospect’s situation by saying something like “So in your case, we would do XYZ to acheive ABC result”