Advanced access to information fuelled by technological advancements has spurred a major evolution in sales. In today's inundated market, where the average consumer sees between 4,000 to 10,000 advertisements in a single day, forging connections with prospects has become an increasingly formidable challenge.
If an organization wants to bring value to its customers and stay relevant in the market, it's about how well a sales rep can craft a compelling story, that captivates the emotions and piques the curiosity of a prospect. And this is done by storytelling.
But what is the most effective way of training sales reps to do this?
Can every sales rep master the craft of a great story, or is it something that can be learned in business?
How can sales reps build storytelling skills? How can they create momentum that leads to identifying and closing opportunities?
What's in this post:
- What is storytelling in sales?
- What is business storytelling training in sales?
- What are the 5 C's of storytelling in sales?
- Why is storytelling in sales so important for sales representatives?
- How can your teams use Al to help with storytelling training?
What is storytelling in sales?
Storytelling in sales, in short, is about a sales rep leading a conversation with a customer with the goal of:
Making an emotional connection with the customer
Draw their attention in
Inspire and motivate action (aka., a sale)
A well-crafted sales story has the potential to captivate, resonate, and inspire the prospect.
For example: A B2C cosmetic skincare company targeting young, busy, professionals may approach people in their market demographic by talking about how being active, and always on the go leads to skin that often is dull, tired, and aging prematurely.
Then the sales rep may introduce how the skincare product they are selling is designed to clean the skin, wash away the day's stress, and rejuvenate the skin. It is a simple process that is designed for the busy professional.
The goal of this is to get the audience to resonate with the idea that as young professionals, their lives are constantly on the go, and it's not always easy to find the time in the day to care for skin. The target audience is likely then interested to find out how this issue in their life can be improved.
What is business storytelling training in sales?
We get it - storytelling isn't everybody's strong suit.
But when people are more receptive to stories than almost any other type of communication, it becomes an absolute necessity in a sales professional business communication toolkit, hence why a growing number of sales storytelling courses and storytelling training programs are emerging.
That is why storytelling training courses exist - to aid sales professionals in their communication skills and to help them craft stories that illicit curiosity.
So how do salespeople begin to weave storytelling into their sales conversations? What types of storytelling courses exist?
Since the advent of COVID-19, as learning and development (L&D) initiatives focussed heavily on virtual training or online courses, an abundance of storytelling training possibilities exist. For example:
- Seminars and workshops
- E-learning platforms
- In-person role-play groups
- A storytelling playbook
- AI-powered role-play scenarios
What are the 5 C's of storytelling in sales?
The art of storytelling is more than just about having a beginning, middle, and end. The 5 C's of storytelling is a concept, or a sequence of events, that was established to help people get a better grasp of effective storytelling.
First and foremost, it's important to create the foundation of the conversation and give them reasoning as to why they should care. Selling a new e-car? Don't just show them a beautiful new car and flaunt its specs - tell the story of the technology’s development and why it will be significant for the future of the industry.
The next step is arguably one of the most essential elements in the story structure, which is curiosity. I mean, if the customer's curiosity isn't piqued, are they really going to care? Create some suspense, that will keep the customer wanting to know more.
The next C: characters. This is the part that turns powerful stories into relatable ones. The human element of brand storytelling is huge. Customers connected with Dove's "genuine Beauty" ad because it portrayed women in their own shapes and sizes, and the brand and the customer became bound together as a result. This created authenticity and made Dove feel like a brand that resonated with their customers. Are your story's characters likable? Are they relatable?
The dialogue about a brand or company determines whether the audience will share it with their peers, or not.
Last but not least, there is no story without a point of conflict and a solution. Simply said, the presenting of a problem followed by a solution is conflict in a business tale. It's important to embrace conflict since it makes your audience interested in how it will turn out. By utilizing the conflicts that are pertinent to and valuable to your target audiences, successful business stories engage them on a deep level. When creating your business narrative, take into account the issues, difficulties, or worries your clients may be experiencing and how your company might help to address them.
Why is storytelling in sales so important for sales representatives?
Storytelling is a powerful skill that serves as a tool to engage, connect, and persuade.
Sales is no longer about empty presentations and inundating prospects with specs and the cold hard facts about the product or service features. Instead, memorable stories help create a narrative that illustrates how the product or service will solve a problem and bring the prospect value.
Want to learn more about how your sales reps can master the art of value selling? Read our blog here!
By weaving in relatable characters, a situation, or a conflict that a prospect can relate to personally, the memory that is left becomes much stronger. Not only does the story make an issue and solution become resonant, but storytelling acts as a key to building trust with the prospect.
The bottom line message is, that with storytelling, a simple sales pitch turns into a meaningful and persuasive conversation that leaves a mark on the prospect.
How can your teams use Al to help with storytelling training?
The skill of weaving a captivating narrative that genuinely hooks the emotions of a prospect is a skill that is honed through practice.
Just as a musician needs to play a piece endlessly to perfect it, a sales representative who wants to hone their ability to compel prospects with stories needs as much practice crafting stories as they can.
So what kind of training possibilities are there?
E-learning training and courses
From onboarding training to leadership training, the benefits of e-learning platforms have been harnessed widely. They allow for self-paced, customized learning environments that are cost-effective as well as time-efficient for organizations.
And it’s no secret that online learning is becoming more and more popularized as we come to terms with the fact that the adoption of work flexibility was only catalyzed when COVID-19 hit. The world e-learning market size was valued at USD 399.3 billion in 2022 and is anticipated to grow by 14% between 2023 and 2032.
However, since its quick adoption, research on the opposite side of the coin has also been analyzed - the downsides to online learning platforms. According to studies, some of these pitfalls include:
Tailored feedback is limited
It requires strong self-motivation and time management skills
A lack of communicational skill development in online students
Online instructors tend to focus on theory rather than practice
E-Learning lacks face-to-face communication
AI-powered sales training
AI development has flipped over the course of the last decade from academia-led to industry-led, by a large margin, and this shows no sign of changing.
Why are more and more organizations turning to AI-powered training platforms to help train their talents, including sales professionals?
AI-powered training platforms:
- Provide immersive role-play simulations that mimic realistic scenarios.
- Give immediate, personalized feedback in real-time.
- Foster safe training environments for ongoing learning.
- Capture learner attention with story-based experiences.
For one German insurance company, incorporating AI to replace their traditional, in-person sales training sessions played a pivotal role in transforming their sales team's capabilities.
"Incorporating Al into training allows us to break free from traditional in-person and passive e-learning solutions, embarking on a path of innovation. Conventional face-to-face training, sadly, tends to be passive, leading participants to disengage. With Al at the helm, we've unleashed a transformative approach that keeps trainees engaged and empowers them to take control of their customer-centric journey."
- Director HR Qualification Sales at a German insurance company
Want to incorporate AI-powered training into your sales training program, and see how your sales reps can master the art of storytelling when they're having sales conversations?
Take a look at our AI here, and see what impact it can have on YOUR sales talents!
Retorio takes talent management and learning and development to the next level with the only
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Reps receive personalized feedback on performance, free from judgment.
One of the biggest benefits of incorporating Al-powered training into learning and development
processes is the element of engagement.
Engagement in one of the most important factors of setting up successful training for sales reps,
or for any trainee for that matter. Learners who are engaged - interested, committed, and keen to
learn - will get more out of any course they are doing, both at the time and afterward. And they
will be more likely to understand, use, and share the knowledge they have received going
forward. At the end of the day, when training is engaging, it is worth more to them and to their
Unlike e-learning platforms or traditional in-person lecture-style training sessions, Al-powered
training incorporates interactive videos that help the learner to retain the information being
presented. Retorio's Behavioral Intelligence Platform, for instance, provides simulations, where
reps gain the opportunity to repeatedly practice and master high-stakes interpersonal skills
crucial for driving performance. These immersive scenarios enable reps to build the confidence
necessary to become trusted advisors to clients, navigating even the most difficult customer
conversations with expert storytelling skills.