Specifically, it got me thinking that storytelling is the glue between your technical sales elements and connecting with your customer. If you think about the most powerful forms of marketing, whether it’s an online sales video or an advertisement on TV, the one thing they all have in common is a human connection. They don’t go into the technical details of their products but use stories to explain how their products are worthy of a place in your life. Of course, these details will need to come into play at some point in the sales journey. But take it from me – it’s always better to get people engaged with the heart then justify with the head.
The reason is simple: We’re wired for stories. We all grew up on them. As a species we needed stories to pass on everything from life skills to culture. We also love stories for their entertainment value – it’s why we all watch TV and read books, right?
The other day my son, who is in a very advanced maths class in high school, told me his lesson on shapes was total BS. He wants to be an architect so, I told him a story about Frank Gehry (the famous Architect). How he understands shapes so well that he now creates some of the most interesting buildings in the world. So we looked at pictures and watched a YouTube video on Frank Gehry and other architects. At the end he agreed that doing the basics well and knowing the rules means you can break them. I tied something basic and disengaging into something that had deeper meaning.
This is the power of storytelling.
The same applies in b2b sales and marketing. I find that marketers and technical people can get caught up in the details. They forget that it’s the story that stitches it all together. Steve Jobs said – I have a thousand songs right here on this little device, and it goes right in my pocket. He didn’t say how many megs it had or the functionality or connectivity. He told a story and asked you to imagine what it would be like to have your favourite music in your pocket. We all know what happened from there.
So, how can you apply this in your own real-world sales and marketing setting? Find a story that talks to people’s problems and aspirations. Then connect your products to those aspirations and how you can help them get there. Don’t focus on the fact that you have a technically capable solution – if the success of a product was purely a technical play, sales and marketing people wouldn’t need to exist in the first place. Keep the ratio 80/20 – mostly storytelling, a little bit of data. This is way more interesting and memorable for you as the business owner, and way more entertaining for people to listen to.
It’s also far easier to take with you…
I.e. people are going to remember a story, they’ll remember how they felt; they’re less likely to remember hard facts. Take for example, a business we’re working with now who has a workplace-connecting software for CIOs with workforces of 5000 people or more. If we tried to tell customers about the technical aspects of this product alone – that it uses C# and connects from one system to another and so on – it’s going to be painfully boring. Instead, we need to find a story that’s worth telling. We can do this by talking to your existing customers, discussing where they were and where they are now.
Understanding how the customers life has changed and then tell that story. Take your prospects through the journey of transformation. That kind of story is going to resonate a lot more clearly and stick in the minds of potential customers. The result? We’re going to sell more.
Ultimately, whether it’s for selling your products or giving your kids some guidance never underestimate the power of storytelling.