On episode 22 of The Insiders podcast, hosts Richard Lane and Simon Hazeldine sat down with Philipp Humm, founder of Power of Storytelling. 

Philipp discovered his passion for storytelling while in a consultancy role in Germany. He then went on to found Power of Storytelling and became a business storytelling speaker and coach and has since delivered workshops to 1000s of people at some of the leading organisations like Google, Oracle, Visa, and many more.

Philipp explores the effectiveness of dialogue in storytelling, how to switch up your selling strategy by implementing captivating yet authentic stories, and how to utilize constructive embarrassment to push boundaries.

Make storytelling part of your sales process

Research conducted by Stanford University suggests that stories are 20 times more likely to be remembered than facts alone, and that harnessing the power of storytelling allows you to be more persuasive. If practiced correctly, a good story can help prospects visualize how your product or service can solve their problem.

Philipp reflected on the first time he saw effective storytelling close a deal:

My manager was just sharing examples of how he helped other customers, and to my surprise, the prospect was glued to every word he said. At the end of the meeting, the prospect got up, shook my managers’ hand and said, Wow, I love hearing your stories, and I can really see the value that you’re creating… My manager had just closed that meeting by sharing stories.

But for storytelling to be truly effective, there are some things to consider:

  • Structure: Stories need a beginning, a challenge, and a solution.
  • Time: Keep the story brief and engaging – stories are meant to enhance sales presentations, not water them down
  • Personalisation: Tailor your stories to each prospect. To be effective, stories must hold value to individual prospects.
  • Emotion and logic: Even in B2B sales, emotions drive customer decisions. Utilize dialogue to appeal to both the emotional and logical side of prospects.

A well-crafted story can peak a listener’s interest and appeal to their emotions. Philipp argues that this is how you build connections with customers:

Any story that is emotional will be immediately more interesting… What are the thoughts that are going on in your head? Share any of these thoughts and your story will immediately become more emotional, more captivating. Try to focus on the visual moments of the story, [to] bring us into the specific physical moment in this visual moment… by the outer dialogue. So, if it’s with another character, let’s say with a customer, what are the words that were used in that specific moment of the story?…  Share the inner dialogue… to make it more emotional, and the outer dialogue to make it more visual.”

Practice makes perfect

Philipp admits that like most, he is not a natural born storyteller. To learn how to tell stories that capture people’s attention, he suggests two strategies:

prepare a little bit in advance … go on their LinkedIn… look through the professional stuff, but [also at] the interests: what other pages do they like? [You can tell a story connected to their interests to break the ice. Then, you should think of customers with similar challenges:] in what situation was that customer before meeting you? How did you help overcome that problem? And what was the result at the end? What is the transformation that that customer saw because of you? When you follow these few steps, you’ll have a short success story that you can use in your next conversation”

Taking these steps will teach you how to craft the two main types of stories Philipp suggests incorporating in sales calls: personal stories, to be shared at the beginning of the call to connect on a human level, and customer success stories. Make these about a specific person to make them more memorable, keep them relevant and incorporate dialogue to add emotion and keep them engaging.

To get better at producing captivating stories, Philipp suggests “try them out any day, and in non-work environments as well. Someone asked you, how are you? You just respond with the tiny story. That way you’re getting used to using stories in your day-to-day.”

Get out of your comfort zone

Yet, delivery is everything, and building confidence in your storytelling ability is the key to being successful. That’s why Philipp thinks constructive embarrassment can help push salespeople out of their comfort zone:

“Constructive embarrassment is that thing where you put yourself, on purpose, in an embarrassing situation. Now, for example, you go outside into the street. The next person, next stranger comes close. And you say, Excuse me, could I give you a hug? Or you could walk into the next coffee place and sit down on the floor”

Philipp, who’s storytelling ability has benefited from a brief stint into acting, improv and comedy, shares his view on how this experiment can help salespeople really become effective storytellers:

“By learning how to deal with these feelings of judgement, you can be more present in the moment and less worried about what other people think.”

Storytelling is a key part of our onboarding journey at durhamlane. We learn our customers stories, learn how they have helped other people. We learn the stories of how their product or service came to be in existence. And when we are at the front end of the sales process, we strive to convey that information in a way that gets people’s attention and draws them in to be interested.

To learn what else sets apart a strong onboarding plan, check our outline, and for more insights into the world of business-to-business sales and marketing, listen to The Insiders podcast

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