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The Power of Storytelling in Sales

By Allan Himmelstein

A while back I had the opportunity of listening to Harvey MacKay speak.  He is the author of 6 books, the most famous of which is “How to Swim with the Sharks”.  He is a tremendous motivational speaker, and his strongest selling strength is that he is a great Storyteller.  The session lasted 1.5 hours and it was constant storytelling.

Although not taught in most Sales training, the skill of storytelling can be just as important in sales as is asking purposeful questions and active listening.  When I have a new client one of the first things I do is to try and get them to tell me a success story about their business.  This is not just for the teaching aspect, but to see how passionate and how clear, they are about the benefits of their service and product.

Terri Nopp, VP of Edelman wrote that the London School of Business found that people retain 65 to 70 percent of information shared via a story versus only 5 to 10 percent of information conveyed through statistics.

Story telling has come naturally to me.  However, I have been reading some tips from Mark Satterfield of Gentle Rain Marketing which has reemphasized the importance and the tactics in telling stories.

What do stories do for the sales prospect?

  1.  It can tell a prospect that you and your company have dealt with similar situations and problems.
  2. Stories can tell the true benefits and results.  It gives reality to the benefits, and not what marketing and sales think the benefits are.
  3. Stories can help build a deeper trust and relationship.

Before you tell a story, its best that your prospects accurately describe either their present situation, or what they desire in the future.  For example, you may ask them “If you could imagine the best scenario, how would your business look like 5 years from now?”  Or,” if you could imagine the best service a vendor could provide, what would that look like?”

Some Do’s and don’ts about Telling Stories

  1. Do base your story on the specific pain, fear, or desire of the prospect.
  2. Don’t use competitor names
  3. Do keep it short and to the point.
  4. Do end the story with what the true benefits as perceived by the characters were.

If you are interested in discussing this further or think that I can be of help to you or your organization, please e-mail me at  or call at 480-656-3565.  And remember “Sales is not a Dirty Word, just a higher level of communication”.


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