Stories In Selling – Are Your Stories Worth Repeating?

Nov 20, 2019 | Inside Sales

Take Advantage of the “Telephone Effect”

A lot has been recently written about the power of stories in selling. The power of stories to communicate context and value is undeniable, if they are used correctly.

The effective use of stories requires you to remember that the exclusive audience for your story is not the person to whom you initially told the story. Even if that person is the final decision maker. You have to make your stories memorable and repeatable. Because they need to be retold throughout the prospect’s company to take advantage of the “telephone effect.”

What’s the “telephone effect?” When you were a kid, do you remember playing the game called “telephone?”

The rules were pretty simple. You and your friends sat on the floor in a big circle. One person started the game by whispering a short piece of gossip or fiction, usually something slanderous about one of the kids in the circle, into the ear of the kid sitting to their left. That kid in turn whispered what they had heard into the ear of the kid sitting to their left. And on and around the story traveled from ear to ear until the last kid to have heard the “telephone message” stood up and repeated what they think they heard.

What started out as “Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water” invariably turned into “Jill hijacked a pill truck with Gayle, her daughter.”

This same dynamic is in play with the stories and the presentations you tell your prospects. You need to harness the power of the “telephone” dynamic to your sales advantage. Here’s how to do it and it all starts with the stories you tell.

Your stories have to be memorable so your prospect wants to repeat them internally. Your internal sales advocates have to be able to communicate your value to multiple audiences throughout the organization. Those people will in turn re-tell the story to other audiences.

When that happens your value, features, benefits inevitably are amplified through the retelling. This is the telephone effect kicking in and working to your advantage. The more memorable your story, the more often it is re-told.

Your stories have to be easily repeatable so the prospect can effectively re-tell them. You stories have to be concise and flow in a logical fashion. They have to be entertaining, which means that you have to practice telling them. They have to be clear about the value you provide. The key to making your stories repeatable is to make certain they quickly answer four simple questions in logical order:

  1. Why did the customer first call your company?
  1. What problem(s) were they trying to solve?
  1. Why did they select your company and product/service?
  1. What value did the customer receive from your product/service?

Stories that are memorable and repeatable will accelerate your ability to compress buying cycles.

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