The Guarantee
September 25

Storytelling Is Data with Soul

Sales professionals who understand they are in the emotional transportation business win the day. Harvard Professor Gerald Zaltman explains that 95 percent of purchasing decisions are subconscious and largely based on emotion versus logic. Once that emotional decision has been made, the brain seeks out logical input to support it.

So, why do we as sales professionals pitch features, benefits and other logic-based differentiators? If you have three points to make about your product or service, why not deliver those points via three compelling stories? The most extraordinary sales professionals have learned that when you get your prospect to invest in your story, they’ll care about your data that supports it.

What makes for a good story? Here’s the formula.

Every good story has an opening and closing with a major “wow” factor. This could be a question, a quote by someone credible, some humor, a shocking stat or setting a detailed scene, including the location, name and/or date in which your story takes place. Let’s say you use a location and year to kick off your story. State it; then pause to allow your prospect to imagine being in that location at that time (e.g., Dallas, Texas, 1979; pause for effect).

Every good story has: (1) a protagonist or hero, (2) an event, change or dynamic that gives the story a natural arc, and (3) a salient point or “a-ha” that brings it to a close. Great stories also have a vulnerability to them. Let a prospect see what makes you tick, in an authentic and vulnerable way, to help them relate to you. Can you offer emotional transparency without undermining your credibility? Of course you can. In fact, it can even boost your credibility.

If the point you would like to make is that your company stands by its customers through thick and thin, you might relay that information through a specific story of when your father taught you—through his actions—about loyalty to a dear family friend during a tough time when a lesser person might have walked away. Explain what this meant to you and that this is what drew you to work for your company. Be sure to relive your story versus just retell it, bringing it to life before the very eyes of your prospect.

Make sure both your delivery cadence and volume vary throughout your story. Consider slowing it down and lowering your volume to make a serious point and speeding up and raising your volume when you’re getting close to the arc of the story.

Storytelling is data with soul and moves people to action. The next time you have a big pitch, leverage the supreme power of storytelling to leave your prospect riveted.

Lori Turner-Wilson is the CEO/Founder at RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy. She can be reached at

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