The Idea: One of the best predictors of sales success isn’t likeability, attention to detail, or even industry expertise, but how one authentically tells a story. Most people in sales and marketing work in facts, details, and stats; in doing so, they overwhelm their customers with the weight of information. And it is forgotten as quickly as it is received. Researchers Dan & Chip Heath found after a presentation only 63% of attendees remember stories, while a small group totaling only 5% remember statistics.
Stories move us – but why?

The pioneering work of neuro-economics leader Paul Zak has uncovered that stories actually trigger the release of Oxytocin which encourages empathy in the receiver of the story. In other words, stories actually release what researchers refer to as the “trust hormone,” a chemical that encourages empathy.

Because of the chemical release catalyzed by stories, we prefer pictures, and we relate to stories, not facts. Ironically, facts are often times debatable, but stories allow us to connect with reality. In fact, visuals are processed 60,000x faster than text. A good story speaks to our intellect, our emotions, and our basic psychology.

“People think in stories, not statistics.”
~ Arianna Huffington

Business is about relationships. Business is about storytelling. It is about connecting my story to yours. So how do we all utilize stories in our professional life? Two ideas to consider:

1) Share Pain Do you have the courage to open a discussion sharing how you and your team have failed? This includes the missteps, the confusion and the frustrations you have encountered? This is a much more believable, authentic and human. If you have finally uncovered an idea worth discussing with your customer it was more than likely birthed out of quite a lot of pain. Why not share the whole story, not just the boring sanitized version? Now that is a story worth listening to and remembering.

2) What if? What if all of us are missing something which is hidden right before our eyes? What if, with one decision, we could double our sales, improve loyalty with our customers, and reduce complexity within our lives? What if we could transform a current partnership with one decision?

Effective storytelling often times begins with a question. The right question opens up the door for co-creation with your customers and leads you into the future. Stories are journeys, and they often times begin by questioning something. A thoughtful, disruptive “what if?” question sets the stage for a compelling story. It opens up the audience for discovery.

The best organizations are not afraid of telling stories. As J.K. Rowling shared, “There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.”

Quit dumping lots of data; bring others into your story. Transport them and take them on a journey.