You may not consider yourself a storyteller. You will be surprised to find that you actually are. Think about it. When you catch up with your friends and family, you most likely talk about the latest episodes in your life. You probably share stories about what has happened recently and how those experiences have changed your life or made you feel.
We all share personal anecdotes during casual conversations without thinking. However, when it comes to telling stories during formal business interactions such as presentations, many people freeze up and find it nearly impossible to tell stories. This reaction is commonplace. Many of us have been taught to state the facts and be straightforward during business communication. Conversely, to reach your full professional potential, you need to get over your fear of storytelling. This is especially true during sales presentations and pitches.
Why is this the case?
Sharing stories with potential clients can have a huge impact on the number of deals successfully closed, as well as the amount of revenues gained from each sale. To inspire you to overcome any disinclination you may have about storytelling. Below you will find a few ways that stories can influence your sales presentation.
1. Stories Increase Economic Value
Significant Objects is a literary and anthropological experiment devised by Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn which demonstrates that the effect of narratives on any given object’s subjective value can be measured objectively.
For this experiment, Walker and Glenn asked 100 creative writers to invent stories about items worth $129 which were then sold on eBay to prove whether stories enhanced the value of the objects. Perhaps you are wondering how the experiment went. Astoundingly, the net profit was $3.6 million — a 2700% increase in final mark up, according to an article by Michael Brenner.
Yes, you read that correctly. Items that were purchased for $129 generated $3.6 million in sales, because of the stories that were included to describe the items.
For example, a globe paperweight, which was originally purchased for $1.49 sold for $197.50. The increase in perceived value can be attributed to the story that was developed to accompany the object.
How can you apply the findings of this experiment to your presentation?
When you are pitching to prospects during a presentation, telling stories about your products or services will raise the value of your offerings.
2. Stories Simplify Social Proof
According to Robert Cialdini, a thought leader in social psychology and author of the best-selling book Influence, social proof is an effective way to influence the decisions other people make.
Professor Robert Cialdini has many examples that demonstrate the persuasive power of social proof. In one study, his team tested various messages to determine the impact social proof had on the number of people who opted to reuse hotel towels rather than accepting clean towels from housekeeping.
The following message, “almost 75% of other guests help by using their towels more than once” had a 25% better result than all other messages. Adding the words “of other guests that stayed in this room” had even more impact.
Rather than breaking the rhythm of your presentation with awkward customer testimonials, maintain momentum by telling stories that will serve as social proof.
Once you have a few social proof stories as well as related photos, create slides for each testimonial. Plan to present the social proof slides early in your presentation to help grab the attention of the audience.
3. Stories Are Memorable
It is ideal to close deals as soon as possible. However, some prospects require time to evaluate your proposal before reaching a buying decision. This decreases the odds of closing the deal. Improve your chances of making a sale by delivering a presentation that your prospects will always remember.
Stories help your pitch stick in the minds of potential customers. Our brains are more receptive to stories than abstract ideas, according to neurologists. Anecdotes that evoke emotion are remembered far longer than slides crammed with analytics.
To deliver an unforgettable presentation, minimize the stats and facts and make room for stories that will spark an emotional response and ignite the imaginations of audience members. Make sure you are descriptive when taking the audience on an imaginative journey. Describe the sights, smells, sounds, and other sensations that the characters experience in the story to activate and engage the minds of the audience members.
Revise your sales pitches to make stories an integral part of your presentations. Stories will increase the economic value of your products and services, and serve as social proof for your business. Finally, stories increase the likelihood that prospects remember your proposition after you have delivered the presentation.