Tuesday, 28 July 2015

3 keys to effective selling narratives How to Tell a Persuasive Story

Have you noticed how the word  " narrative " is all pervading our conversation of late?

Whether it’s the 'impact of premium narrative games in the App store', or that 'the West must disrupt the ISIS narrative' ,  or exposing an opposition’s 'false narrative'  the word NARRATIVE is used almost everywhere at the moment.

Telling Your Story

All salespeople need to have the ability of telling the story of their product, service of company as part of their skills set. You may need it ready for your elevator pitch, the writing of white papers, or for formal presentations.

A good narrative is like a recipe – certain "ingredients" need to be part of the mix for it to be a success.

Frame Incident Gratification FIG
Most great stories have three essential elements: Frame, Incident, and Gratification - to remember this think of the fruit  F.I.G.

The Olive Tree and the Fig Tree - an Aesop Fable . A ancient story told in just 77 words

THE OLIVE-TREE ridiculed the Fig-Tree because, while she was
green all the year round, the Fig-Tree changed its leaves with
the seasons. (Frame
A shower of snow fell upon them, and, finding the Olive full of foliage, it settled upon its branches and broke them down with its weight, at once despoiling it of its beauty
and killing the tree. (Incident)

 But finding the Fig-Tree denuded of
leaves, the snow fell through to the ground, and did not injure it at all.(Gratification)

Now lets take a closer look at the three ingredients of a story

The current National Gallery exhibition
 demonstrates how frames – designed as removable items 
to enhance a painting only since the early 1500s 
– can be considered works of art in their own right,
 and can transform the way we look at paintings.
 Well worth a visit and it's free!
Frame -  (once upon a time)

Like a frame for a picture that sets the painting in a particular space, so a narrative benefits from a fitting frame

Framing the context is the element most neglected by salespeople. Without framing your context, your story may confuse or bore your audience.

The frame provides the background information that listeners or readers need to make sense of your story. It should also spark their interest and make a connection, so that they care about what you have to say.

Context needs to address four key questions.

1. Where and when does this story take place? – Establish the "when" and "where" of your story, and clarify whether it's fact or fiction.
2. Who is the main character? – This needs to be someone who your audience can connect with. In most cases, you are the main character.
3. What does he or she want? – Explain what your main character wants to accomplish.
4. Who, or what, is in the way? – Every story needs an obstacle or villain. This can be a person, an event, or a challenge.

As you think about how to tell your sales story, plan how you'll answer the above four questions. It's also important to be authentic  , particularly  when telling a personal story.

Here is a sales story that shows age and lack of capital are no barrier to entrepreneurial success. What is needed is an idea that is actioned through planning and dogged persistence.


"He was 65 years old when he received his first social security check of $99. He owned a small house and a beaten up old car. 


We engage with a narrative packed with incident

Every great story needs incident: ups and downs, setbacks, conflicts, failures, and battles. The incident is where we experience defeats and learn lessons.

In your story, your main character must "do" something. Ideally, he or she will experience a setback, failure, or problem along the way. Obstacles create tension and forge an important connection with your audience, because everyone experiences them daily.

Frame Incident Gratification FIG

He made a decision that he had to change things. The only idea he had was a chicken recipe which his friends liked. With that idea in mind , he took colossal  action.  He left his home in Kentucky and travelled to many states in the United States to sell his idea. 
He told restaurant owners that he had a chicken recipe that people liked and he was giving it to them for free. 

What he wanted in return was was for the restaurant owner to pay him a small percentage on the chicken pieces sold.


At the end of your story, you reveal your main character's fate. You also need to explain, subtly, what your audience should have learnt from this result. What is the moral? Why did you tell this story?


He got rejections after rejections but did not give up. In fact he got over 1000 rejections. He got 1009 ‘no’s before he got his first ‘yes’.

With that one success Colonel Harland Saunders changed the eating habits of the whole world with Kentucky Fried Chicken  "
Frame Incident Gratification FIG

The above is clearly a precis of a very remarkable story. Read up about the Colonel on Wikipedia - it is an inspiring life story.

Further Tips as a Sales Story teller.:

Great storytellers know that a powerful story is only part of what inspires people to listen. Follow the tips below to become a better storyteller.

Listen – The best storytellers are also the best listeners. Brush up on your active listening   skills, and give others your full attention when they tell a story.

Practise – Rehearse your story before you tell it. Even if you practise on your own, just once, in front of a mirror or on your camera phone, this can improve your storytelling.

Create an experience – When you tell a story, you create an experience for your listeners. Appeal to all five senses; don't just tell them.

Key Points

Business storytelling is the art of using stories to communicate and connect with customers, suppliers, partners, and anyone else involved with your organisation. The purpose of business stories should have a specific goal or desired outcome rather than purely entertainment .

To tell a great sales story, it's vital to be genuine. Use stories that tell other people more about who you are, and why you're here. 

And, don't be too afraid to tell stories that show failure, poor judgement, or mistakes on your part. When you're prepared to appear vulnerable in front of others, you can quickly establish trust and rapport.

One last thought: 

Will our business cards in future include titles like Engagement craftsman, Business Narrator, Sales story teller ? After all we have titles now like Content manager and  Business evangelist....

Good Selling. Good Narrating folks. 

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