The Boyhood of Raleigh, 1871 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This subject keeps popping up from time to time when being in sales.
“ah you mean like storytelling”
“storytelling is a great way to engage and create rapport”
“when i do my storytelling the customer just sits back and takes it all in”
So what is storytelling?
In my humble opinion it’s just another way at looking at and labeling pitching.
In essence it’s what sales is about.
You use your voice to intone and captivate your audience be it one buyer or an entire and packed congress room.
Using your voice and modulate in tones and variances that enriches the story and brings it to life and makes your audience resonate and creates rapport.
Does it matter at all what the storytelling tells?
Not so much as you would think.
Your body language and your use of your voice will account for mor than 97% of the experience and that leaves only 3 % of the information left for the actual content.
In other words selling snowmobiles to nomads in the sand dunes of middle east. (yes that is actually a true story).
The performance and the show that you put up when doing your storytelling should be well rehearsed if its short. By short i mean 10 minutes or less. The less time you have to do it the more prepared you need to be so for a 3 minute session i would prepare almost every word and rehearse it several times. Longer than 10 minutes means that you can wing it. For this i read everything i can about the subject (be it a company that i will try to get as a customer or an event as a speaker with a chosen subject). I put down mental headwords that i will incorporate in the storytelling and if i have the luxury of having computer or paper as aides i put the words down there so i can look it up and sign them off as i go.
For a short session its much harder to play with the audience. On 10 minutes plus you usually can get a good feel for some of the individual listeners and play them to engage the rest of the crowd. Sort of storytelling surfing ;-). Some times you lose them and will have to get them back and that’s really a scary feeling but the audience will not notice this too much if you recover your footing. This will typically happen when you change audience with the same story. Doing a really sales inspiring speech for sales people gets them really going but the same speech for an audience of technicians will have slight effects so you will have to be prepared for less applause.
Also there is a strange thing with storytelling and that is that when you do it well people who are asked afterwards and are satisfied will mostly only remember the “pitch” in the beginning and the end and not so much about what happened in between. The between part will be remembered in emotion based on how good you were at the podium what you projected and your company and your “pitch” will take on those properties and you have succeeded.
So to me storytelling is just like any other day out there pitching and creating rapport.
Storytelling is the essence of sales.
Veni vidi vici