When it comes to pitching a product or program, salespeople can work with more than just product features and benefit. A clever story that hits prospects on an emotional level can be a valuable sales tool.
But is there a right and wrong way to use personal stories? Which kind of stories work best? Use this handy guide the next time you consider sharing a real-life scenario during your sales pitch.
The Most Successful Sales Pitch Story I’ve Ever Used
One of my most successful sales pitches included a story about a concrete truck. At the time, I was selling a GPS tracking tool for truck companies, and this story resonated with the owners.
I have a customer who previously didn’t have a tracking tool on their trucks, and saw no need for one. They had a driver who had been with the company for 21 years. He had a stellar record and their complete trust.
However, they eventually discovered that the employee was using the company’s concrete truck for his own side jobs. In between stops for the company, he would find quick jobs and pocket the cash. The business wasn’t making any money, but they were unknowingly forking over overhead and wear and tear expenses.
If this company had GPS tracking on their trucks, and let their employees know about it, they could have saved themselves from the headache, breach of trust and expenses.
Why does storytelling work?
Using stories in your sales pitch is a great way to showcase the “what-ifs” of not having your product or service.
Highlighting the features of your product with, “Hey, if you bought GPS tracking you’d always know what your employees were up to” is not nearly as effective as using a story. Putting those features in the context of a story, “This guy lost X dollars because he didn’t know where his employees were at all times” creates a much more relatable “what-if” scenario.
In addition to featuring the what-ifs, stories connect with customers at an emotional level. Peer-based selling capitalizes on this aspect of sales well. To sell life insurance, for example, salespeople often focus on the person who didn’t have life insurance and the effects on loved ones left behind.
The Do’s and Don’ts
Before you start working stories into your sales pitch, there are some important do’s and don’ts you should know:
- Do get permission to use a story from another salesperson or customer.
- Do use stories to help prospects see what could happen if they do/don’t buy.
- Do use stories that target people’s emotions, such as fear, scarcity, security, trust, guilt, love, belonging, etc.
- Don’t try to pass off a story that isn’t true; prospects will see right through it.
- Don’t use names in your story. Maintain the anonymity of the parties involved.
- Don’t forget to include the features and benefits of your program, product or solution.
Telling stories in your sales pitch is a great way to target prospects with real-life scenarios, showcase how your service helps people solve day-to-day problems, and get people to buy. Just keep these steps in mind to guide the formulation of your story: Tell the problem. Introduce the solution. Show the outcome.