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The Secret To Storytelling In Sales

4 min read
Oct. 16, 2012

What does the Steve Jobs’ Keynote in 2007 where he introduced the iPhone and MLK Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech have in common?

Nancy Duarte studied some of the best speeches, presentations, and she came up with some very specific tactics that make a story compelling and influential.

As we’ve learned from sales experts time and time again, the best sales reps tell phenomenal stories. Even if you’ve never told a great story in the past, after this post, you’ll be able to leverage the simple tactics used in great stories. We’re going to tell you how to do it.

How to tell a Story for Sales?

The key ingredients:

Every great story has a structure. A basic story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

The best stories have:

  • A Like-able Hero
  • Encounters Roadblocks
  • Emerges Transformed

The Secret to Storytelling in Sales

The Likeable Hero is always going to be your prospect. They are in a constant journey to increase bottom line numbers and improve their company’s overall efficiency.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The hero will never be the storyteller.

Your prospect, the likeable hero, encounters roadblocks every day.

Examples of a prospects real-world roadblocks:

  • Their payment processing system is bulky and offline causing hiccups during purchase orders.
  • Their marketing process is inefficient and they’re spending too much time manually emailing prospects.
  • Too much time is spent manually researching prospects and their background.

Hint: The roadblock you care about is the problem your product solves.

Your prospect, the likeable hero, emerges transformed after they’ve battled the opposition (the old status-quo, inefficient way), imagined the future (with your help), and becomes a better worker because they’ve purchased your software.

Examples of real-world ways to emerged transformed:

  • Educate them on their your industry.
  • Provide ways for them to do their job better without your software.
  • Develop trust by being helpful.

The Secret to Convincing a Prospect they Should Buy

To make a buyer really emerge transformed it’s important to explain “What it’s like right now” and “What it could be in the future” You want to make that gap as large as possible when you’re telling your story. Look at the image below.

The Secret to Storytelling in Sales

You want to revolve the benefits of your product in that gap. For example, let’s use a marketing automation software as an example.

Real World Sales Example:

If I were calling a prospect, I’d want to let them know:

I understand how hard his company it must be to manually comb through a database, send individual emails to clients, not have it tracked, organized, etc.


Imagine a world where this could all be done through software. Where once the software was setup, it sent auto-responder emails after a user filled out a form, it tracked who came from what site and how long they stayed; it kept your database organized and compartmentalized so you could share the right message, with the right buyer, at the right time.

That’s a heck of a story and one that any prospect looking to buy a marketing automation can relate to.

We’ve just scratched the surface on great storytelling tactics. Let us know how your sales improve with the tactics above.

3 Goals of Great Stories:

  1. Get your idea out. In sales terms: Your product is great. How do you convey that to a prospect? 
  2. Keep your audience engaged, listening, and in a “heightened state.” In sales terms: You only have a few words in an email or a few seconds on the phone to keep the prospect engaged.
  3. Convey a clear, compelling message. “In sales terms: what’s the most influential story you could tell in the allotted time to get your buyer to buy.