The power of storytelling in sales


Author: Jonathan Friedman
Last updated: Published:
Storytelling in sales

Stories have been around forever, long before we started writing things down. In fact, folklore is all about stories that have been passed down over time. So, when you're trying to sell something, using stories is a smart way to make an impact. They stick in people's minds and can even be passed along to others.

In the big picture, using stories when you're trying to sell something also helps you connect with people on a personal level. Even in today's tech-filled world, the basic love for a good story hasn't changed.

Demostack CEO Jonathan Friedman recently sat down with Rhett Power from Forbes to discuss why he believes storytelling in sales is still one of the best ways to grab a prospect’s attention and make a great impact. And we’re going to unpack that. So, get ready to explore how to use storytelling not just to catch someone's eye, but also to make a lasting impression.

Ready? Let's jump in!

The challenge of storytelling in sales presentations

When it comes to storytelling in sales, you might wonder why it's so hard to get it right. It's not just you struggling with this; even big names like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk have had their share of awkward moments when things didn't go as planned in their presentations.

Jonathan believes that there are a few big reasons why showing off a product can be tough. First off, software is complicated. Showing an app that has hundreds of different screens and features takes time. It's not like showing someone a simple, physical thing like a shirt that they can just look at and touch.

Another big hurdle is keeping the product secure while trying to show it off. Most products have a lot of security to keep the data safe, which means you can't just let anyone poke around in it. This makes sense for keeping things secure, but it's a roadblock when you want to show people what your product can do.

Lastly, products are usually designed with a specific use in mind, which means it’s difficult to show off all their potential in a 30-minute setting. When you're trying to demo a product though, you want to give people a quick overview of everything it can do, not just the basics.

So, it's not that people are bad at storytelling in sales; it's that there are a lot of challenges that make it hard to do well in software.

How can sales leaders train their sales teams to be better at telling stories?

For those in sales, knowing how to tell a great story is super important, Jonathan continues. And a good story isn't just about having a beginning, middle, and end; it's about making the person you're selling to the star of the show.

Sometimes, salespeople make the mistake of focusing too much on the product they're selling, like it's the main character. But a smarter move is to make the customer the hero of the story. When you're selling, you should be setting the stage for the customer to see how they fit into the story with your product.

To do this well, you need to understand who you're selling to. You have to get where they're coming from and what they're dreaming of achieving. Then, show them how your product can help turn their dreams into reality. This means you've got to know your product inside and out, and also be good at connecting the dots between what your product does and what your customer wants.

The main point to remember, especially for those in sales, is to always keep the customer at the heart of your story, not the product or yourself. This is how you make your sales pitch much more relatable and effective.

How does storytelling in sales work for a PLG strategy?

Product-led growth, or PLG for short, is getting a lot of buzz these days, though it's a bit tricky to pin down exactly what it means. PLG is about letting the product do the talking instead of relying on salespeople to explain why it's great. Normally, sales teams are the ones who tell the product's story, but with PLG, that job shifts over to the product itself. This doesn't mean sales teams aren't important in PLG, but their role isn't as front-and-center as it is for other strategies.

One of the big pluses of PLG is that it can help a business reach more people without needing a bigger sales team. The product is designed to show off its own features and benefits, which can save a lot of time and effort. But, this also means the product has to be really well-made so it can clearly show users why it's valuable. That can be a tough task.

Video games are a great example of how storytelling should work for PLG, Jonathan explains. When you play a good video game, you're dropped into a new world and learn as you go, figuring things out through the game itself. This hands-on experience is what PLG tries to replicate with products, making sure users can understand and get value from the product right from the start.

This means putting a lot of thought into the design and user experience, making sure the product is easy to use and understand. But getting this right can make PLG a powerful way to connect with and engage customers.

How does Demostack empower better storytelling in sales?

Demostack was born out of a real struggle Jonathan had when trying to show off products. He put his heart and soul into it, but whenever he tried to set up a demo to show how cool it was, he just couldn't make it work. The demos didn't do the product justice, he explains.

At first, he tried using the actual product environment for the demos, but he quickly hit a snag because it had sensitive data he couldn't just show to everyone. He even tried making up a fake customer scenario, but it felt empty and didn't capture what the product was all about.

This whole ordeal showed him how tough it can be to properly showcase a product. You've got to deal with making a convincing demo, protecting private data, and getting around the product's complexity. That's where Demostack comes in. It's like a magic tool that lets you set up a demo in just five minutes, mirroring your product's look and feel without getting tangled up in the technical backend stuff. It's super customizable, kind of like using a simple website builder, so you can tweak it to show exactly what you want without a headache.

For anyone who's got to demo a product, Demostack is a lifesaver. It cuts through all the usual demo drama, letting you create something that really speaks to the buyer's needs. By getting rid of the usual barriers like security concerns and complicated setups, Demostack makes it easier to get your product's story out there clearly and effectively.

Can you walk us through sort of onboarding and using the product?

Using Demostack is kind of like having a special way to show off your product without messing with the real thing. Imagine you log into your product, but you're doing it through Demostack. As you go through your product, Demostack makes a visual copy of what's on the screen. It's like creating a twin of your product's look, but this twin doesn't have any of the complicated stuff under the hood.

This copy, or "clone," lets you play around and change things up without worrying about breaking anything in your actual product. It's a safe space where you can customize how you want your product to look in a demo, making it just right for whomever you're showing it to.

Demostack also lets you share this customized version with potential customers anytime - before, during, and after a chat with them. Plus, you get to see how they interact with your demo. Did they check it out? What parts caught their attention? Did they pass it along to their team? It's like getting a sneak peek into what they're thinking.

So, in a nutshell, Demostack takes the mystery out of showing your product to others. It turns what used to be a complicated process into something you can easily manage and get insights from, making your demos a whole lot more effective.

What analytics can you get from Demostack?

Analytics is super important when it comes to understanding how well sales strategies work. You might have heard of Gong, a tool that changed the game by analyzing sales calls. Before tools like Gong, sales teams would make tons of calls, but they didn't have a clear way to remember or analyze what was said unless they took a lot of notes. Product demos, which are often the most important part of a sales conversation, have been kind of a mystery in the same way. Even though demos are a big deal, there's a lot we don't usually know about them.

For example, if you asked a sales manager questions like how many demos they do for each deal, how long each demo lasts, how the top salespeople do their demos differently from others, or which features of the product get the most attention in different demos, they might not have the answers. This shows there's a lot we're not seeing – it's like there's a "black box" around the whole demo process.

The aim is to open up this black box and make everything about demos clear and understandable with analytics. By doing this, sales teams can figure out which parts of their demos work well and which don't. This knowledge helps them focus on doing more of what works and fixing what doesn't, making their sales pitches better and more effective over time.

How does the platform help us get better at demos?

First up, this tool makes your demo consistent. Say you're a sales leader. You can set up a demo that shows off the best parts of your product. This is great for new salespeople who join the team because they get a demo that's already been checked out and works well, without any tech headaches.

Having this standard demo means you're ready to show potential customers what your product can do, right off the bat. It moves away from the old way of just showing the product and hoping for the best. Now, you have a clear plan that's known to highlight your product's strengths.

Salespeople can also tweak this demo to fit the person they're talking to. For example, adding the customer's photo or details can make the demo feel more personal, like it's already part of their life.

Plus, you're not stuck with the usual demo limits. You can share your demo in lots of ways, like on your website, through an email blast, or a more direct email. This means you can reach more people and adjust your approach based on real feedback. Essentially, it's about making your product's complex story simple and engaging, then spreading the word in a way that makes sense for your audience. Finally, getting feedback on your story's impact is key to making your demos even better.

How can Demostack help you with deal velocity?

We talked about how powerful a good story can be in getting people's attention and making them care. When you tell a story that hits home, you can break through the noise and connect with potential customers on an emotional level.

But a story's job isn't just to connect emotionally. It also makes it easier for champions to share your story with others in their company. This is handy in situations where not just one person makes the final decision because it effectively speeds up the buying process.

This idea also means that everyone in your company can help tell your product's story, not just the sales team. Marketing, your partners, the people who make the product, and even your HR team can all share what's cool about your product and your company. This makes sure that no matter who someone talks to, they'll get a consistent and compelling story about why your product is worth checking out.

In short, making storytelling a big part of what your company does can change the game. It's not just about making sales better; it's about getting everyone on board to share what's great about your product and your company.

Final thoughts on storytelling in sales

Jonathan finishes off by expressing that every time someone gives you their attention, they're offering you a slice of their consciousness. It's a rare and valuable gift in today's fast-paced world. The responsibility, then, is to honor that gift by providing stories that are not only engaging but also meaningful and true. While gimmicks and flashy tactics might draw eyes momentarily, they're the sugar rush of communication—quick to spike, quicker to crash. Instead, aim to nourish your audience with substantial, authentic content that not only grabs attention but sustains it, fostering a deeper connection.

So, as you craft narratives for your products, your brand, or even yourself, let authenticity guide you. Tell stories that matter, stories that last, and stories that truly connect. Whether you're leveraging tools like Demostack to showcase your product's value or navigating the intricacies of PLG, the narrative you weave should reflect the core of who you are and what you stand for.

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