Sales Storytelling :As a sales person, sometimes I have a problem with Storytelling

Recently my mentor provoked a thought. He sent me this line “Think story-telling, and the default is to think of ‘telling’—as in verbal”

After reading this line a few times.I came to a conclusion that telling is not as important as listening. Especially in sales.

My research then pointed me towards a fabulous write up by Steve Denning that points out the importance of Story Listening versus Story Telling


In a sales storytelling , the emphasis is usually on the “telling” — pointing out features and benefits that have been identified by the seller. But in a trusted partnership, listening comes first — in order to understand customers and their stories.

What are their dreams, their hopes, their fears, their current problems? What makes them tick?

In a trusted partnership conversation, the seller would normally be speaking 20 percent of the total time and the listener 80 percent.

Listening behaviors include:

Showing genuine concern: In relationships of mutual trust, participants don’t barge into the conversation, preoccupied with the story they want to tell and deliver it as a prepared speech or pitch. Instead, they listen and adjust their interventions to what is being discussed. They work to understand the world of the customer and interact accordingly.

Revealing vulnerability: Trust entails asking people to put their faith in you, even though they have no certainty that that faith will be honored. In effect, they make themselves vulnerable. If sellers maintain their invulnerability, never admitting or risking anything, the lack of reciprocity may raise questions in customers as to whether a relationship is warranted.

Willingness to learn: Readiness to learn also encourages trust and loyalty. Sellers don’t come into discussions with an attitude that “I’m not interested in your situation; I’m here to tell you what you need.” Instead, a willingness to learn from, and understand, the customer’s story establishes reciprocity.

Sadly, the corporate conversion pressures and traditional thinking leads us to tell more than listen and in return never really become a trusted advisor to our customer.

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