What is the most useful sales approach
Storytelling for sales success: 5 useful principles
Storytelling is a well-known buzzword, but this is not meant to be the 1001st article on the subject. These following principles ensure that you are guaranteed to be remembered on the road to sales success.
5 useful principles of storytelling for more sales success
1. Know the seven basic plots and use them for yourself!
The basic principle of storytelling is simple and extremely powerful at the same time: When facts are linked with emotions, we can remember things much better. And how do I do it best? By telling a story.
There are seven basic plots for this, i.e. narrative patterns. They are like “templates” for our brain, as they have already been learned and we have often met them. For example in fairy tales, books or films. That is why it makes sense to use them as a starting point and try to incorporate the respective basic idea into our personal story. Here is a brief overview:
- "Overcome the monster": There is an evil force here, such as a monster or a tyrant, who threatens the world. A hero confronts him and eventually defeats the monster after some difficulty. Example: "Dracula".
- “From dishwasher to millionaire”: This is the classic success story in which the life of the average person is completely transformed. He becomes rich, famous, and leads the life that he has secretly always dreamed of. This “transformation” is often associated with hurdles and crises, but in the end there is a great happy ending. Example: "Cinderella".
- “The Search”: A hero figure is called to fulfill a large and challenging task. The path to the goal is riddled with difficulties, frustrations and hard tests. In the end, the hero masters the task successfully - often with the help of his loyal friends. Example: "The Lord of the Rings".
- “Journey and Return”: Here the hero embarks on a journey into a new, unknown world. Challenges have to be mastered and it is important to find your way in a foreign country. At the end you will return home. Example: "Alice in Wonderland".
- “Comedy”: In this narrative pattern, a small, ideal world is confronted with confusion and problems. After a while, however, the protagonists find each other again and are happy with each other. Humor and happy moments are in the foreground again. Example: “Pride and Prejudice”.
- “Tragedy”: Classically we are dealing with the opposite of comedy. The main character does not experience a happy ending, but fails or even dies. Often through circumstances that the protagonist himself caused. Example: “Faust.” Admittedly, this plot is rarely used in marketing. Nevertheless, it is important to know this basic pattern as well.
- “Rebirth”: Here, too, the story of a main character is told who is threatened by adversaries. At first it seems as if they will win and bring down the hero. But then a “miracle” happens and he is saved. Example: "Snow White".
Anyone who manages to classify their content in one of these templates ensures that the brain is presented with a familiar sequence in which new information can be classified more easily. Emotions can be brought into play here very well.
The customer and the product can be neatly wrapped in a story. Approaches could be: What use does my product have - does it make my customer a hero? Am I helping him become successful?
Or: why does our company exist? What is the “story” behind it? Is it maybe the search for adventure? Or the desire to discover new things by going on a journey? Does we make the world a little happier because we are telling a comedy? Those who manage to tell their own personal company story based on one of the seven basic storytelling patterns increase their chances of recognition and attention enormously.
2. Use archetypes
Archetypes are a very helpful means of telling “your story” - and thus, for example, to score points in the next sales pitch. These are characters in which people recognize themselves immediately and with whom they can identify. They tell a story automatically. And are extremely catchy for our brain. Therefore, they are also very popular in advertising as a basic pattern for a brand personality. Here are some examples of well-known archetypes:
- The discoverer: This is the classic “adventurer” who constantly wants to experience new things and ventures out into the big, wide world. Example brand: The North Face.
- TheWise: This archetype is characterized by great intelligence and often wants to improve the world a little with its abilities. Example: Albert Einstein.
- The hero: These are very courageous people who want to change something and overcome various challenges in the process. Example: James Bond.
- The rebel: A radical personality who revolts against familiar structures and wants to create something completely new. Example brand: Tesla.
- The fool: The fool is about to entertain other people with his carefree and happy manner. Example: Charlie Chaplin.
- The Jedermann: This archetype is often used when the general public is supposed to identify with a brand. Typical values that Jedermann represents are loyalty, honesty and being down to earth. Example brand: Aldi.
If you want to describe your personality using archetypes, choose a maximum of three and try to depict as many different facets as possible. For example, a salesperson could describe his analytical skills as a “wise man” in a customer meeting, but at the same time add a pinch of “rebel” that shows that if I am passionate about something, then I also fight passionately for it. And the potential customer on the other side already has a clear picture in their head that sticks! Without him being able to defend himself against it.
3. If your story is really good, it doesn't need a lot of words for it
You can tell an excellent story in a nutshell. Sometimes it only takes a single sentence. Or maybe even three words exactly. The ability to bring something so strongly to the point is extremely helpful in many situations.
For example, at a sales pitch in acquisition: Here you usually don't have much time to convince the potential customer of yourself. And so you have to think carefully beforehand how you can optimally summarize your added value. Strictly speaking, we have a maximum of eight seconds to interest the listener in our topic. This is the average attention span for a person today, if we believe the famous Microsoft study. You know, the one with the goldfish.
4. Make the three golden questions a guideline for your communication
In journalism, there are three questions that every writer should ask themselves at the beginning of a story. These are so elementary that they are the perfect basis not only for storytelling but for all types of communication. They are:
- What's the story
- Why do we tell them?
- Who is the reader?
Regardless of whether you are writing an important email, preparing a pitch or giving a presentation: If you ask yourself these three questions in advance and answer them honestly, you will quickly find out whether you have anything to say at all. Whether the timing is right. Which goal are you actually pursuing. And you automatically worry about your customers. All extremely important points in order to attract attention with our communication. And bring us one step closer to sales success.
These three golden questions should become the maxim for our communication - the "advance check", so to speak, that all communication material must pass.
5. Always divide presentations into three acts - and know your audience very well!
Giving a good presentation that engages the audience is quite an art. Here, too, it pays to fall back on the principles of storytelling. Good presentations all follow a very specific dramaturgy - just like an exciting story. They are structured in the following three acts:
- Presentation of the status quo. Aim: Generate approval from the audience.
- Building up the tension arc with the help of contrasts and emotions, right up to a specific call-to-action. Aim: Convince the audience.
- Presentation of to-do's and benefits. Aim: Make the added value clear.
If you divide lectures into these three basic components, you have already considered the really important ingredients for a successful presentation. There are also other important aspects such as the appropriate length of the lecture, or the requirement that you collect as much information as possible about your audience in advance.
Last but not least
And finally, my unofficial rule # 6. As the Dalai Lama already knew: “Silence is sometimes the best answer.” Really good storytelling doesn't always mean telling thrilling stories. It can also mean being silent at the right moment. Taking breaks, giving yourself and the other person room for imagination - that too is what makes storytelling. With this in mind: Have fun and try it out!
Download for the free e-book by Andreas E. Nabicht
For salespeople who want to sell with a system. For companies and sellers who authentically try to discover the hidden buying motives, the wishes and longings of their (potential) customers - but also the possible reasons for not buying. Because customer heroes will always be more successful than average salespeople. You can download it here: Because customer heroes sell better
Source: Pyczak, Thomas (2019): Tell me! How to convince with storytelling. Bonn: Rheinwerk Verlag.
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