Why telling stories is your best sales tool

I’ll give you an example using a story of my own.

I spent 8 years selling one of the most boring services you can imagine. The only way I was going to be successful was to tell stories.

I had a national contract with one of the UK’s largest house builders delivering removal services that helped with customer care results and completion dates. These were 2 critical factors that the client measured themselves on and we did an excellent job at helping them and their customers.

The issue was this was a builder with many regions, selling thousands of new homes a year and supported by hundreds of contractors. When the senior board looked at the p&l and saw £2m of cost against our service, I needed to make sure they understood the value we offered.

So I made it very simple for them. Each month I sent everyone from regional directors upwards to the CEO a report. It had a report of statistics,

  • How many people we had moved
  • How we had been scored
  • How many moves we had done with < 24 hours notice
  • And so the stats went on

However, more importantly, I included stories in it. Stories of individual customers, emotive stories, quotes from them, quotes from the removal crew, photographs of them moving into their new home, quotes from the sales people on site. I would even get the odd hand-written letter sent in! GOLD!

I also gave them updates on our own staff and business. Who’d had a baby, who’d been promoted, how we were improving our services, what was coming next.

The board understood our value in what we did because I’d brought the numbers to life and so they continued to invest in us even in very difficult trading times.

To support all of this myself, the office staff and the team out on the road all told stories too. If it was a pitch for a new contract, we would give them relatable stories of what we had done in the past and the impact it had. I found that if I just explained how the service worked, people would forget. If I explained what we did for Mr & Mrs Jones last week, they remembered.

You can’t create emotional responses with stats. So speak to people as humans – you can back up the impact of those stories with stats but the stories are the key.

Stories entertain us and that is probably why you have read this far. People care about the outcome and the plot and less than how something is done technically. Does anyone care about the fact the 3 bears are unlikely to eat porridge and sit on chairs? No, they care about the story, not the detail.

So if you want to break down barriers, get your point across, entertain, evoke an emotion, don’t list off all the boring things you do as a business, tell them a story.

And if you’re no good at telling stories, well… you could always speak to us 😉