Stories sell, so why don’t sales and marketing teams use stories more frequently?
Stories sell because unlike other forms of content — blogs, white papers, sell sheets, capability talk tracks — they create a subtle shift from “me and you” to “we.”
Rather than a vendor to be held at arm’s length, sharing customer stories turns you into a peer, collaborator, and trusted advisor. You are both looking for solutions to a shared problem.
Stories also make it a lot easier for prospecting sales and customer success teams to resist product pitching. They put product or service capabilities directly in the context of a specific customer outcome or result.
However, a recent study by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs showed that stories rank only fourth out of the six top content types.
You can get better at stories by using three strategies to bring them into buyer conversations.
Let’s use Activator Dealer Solutions and the example of their equity mining tool to illustrate. Their equity mining tool helps car dealers’ staff see which car owners may have equity in their current car and be eligible for a trade-in to buy a new car.
- Show the “before and after” of a changed behavior
An Activator rep might position the equity tool to a dealer by saying something like:
“Imagine service customers Sue, coming in at 9, and John, coming in at 11. Right now, you may not know how much equity each has in the car and if they are considering a trade-in.
Imagine now if your service technician could automatically identify that both have equity in their car and send them an email to see if they want to discuss a trade-in. John responds by raising his hand for a conversation, Sue does not. Now your staff knows exactly how to engage each.”
- Tell the classic customer story (problem – solution – result)
A peer story is always a great way to generate engagement. It could sound something like:
“Your situation sounds like Tansky Toyota. When we started working with them, they could not identify service visitors with equity in their car or to invite a trade-in conversation.
By automatically identifying equity opportunities and emailing those owners to see if they want to have trade-in conversation, Tansky’s sales team started to receive ~80 new handraiser leads a month. Automated equity campaigns now account for 25% of monthly sales.”
- Talk about a common customer outcome
Where there is not a direct or obvious peer story, a team member can speak to a common outcome across a lot of customers. It could sound something like:
“Your situation sounds like many of our equity customers. Before we started to work together, they could not identify service visitors with equity in the car or to invite a trade-in conversation.
For your peer dealers like Sears Imported, Tansky Toyota, Central Chevrolet, Schaumburg Kia, we have seen that when they put our equity tool in place, they see an average of 14% gain in sales revenue with some dealers seeing gains of 25% or more.”
All three of these strategies are a simple conversational way to lead with stories rather than lead with a product pitch.
These strategies work well, but to do it well you need to prepare and practice!