According to research from International Data Corporation, 75% of CFOs and CIOs at global organizations say that they have trouble using data to make decisions. One reason for this challenge is that while data is readily available, it is often lacking context; this is where the skill of storytelling helps connect disparate pieces of data into a cohesive narrative that makes data actionable.
To effectively leverage data to tell a story, sales professionals must be able to identify the data that is relevant to their audience, organize that data in a way that makes sense, and then develop a narrative to connect meaning to the numbers and drive the sale forward.
Sales professionals must keep this mantra in mind: Data is necessary for legitimizing the solution, but story is necessary for promoting the solution.
Identifying data that has meaning starts with training your sales team to ask questions to discover and understand customer needs.
Once the sales professional has asked the right questions, they can focus on assembling the right data. They should carefully select the information that matters to the customer and demonstrates the gains offered by their solution.
The information should be concise, research-backed evidence to support the value of the solution. Strong statistical evidence shapes opinions. However, remember that statistics can backfire. Even if the customer agrees with your position, they may recoil if supportive information comes from an unaccredited source.
Sourcing the right data is only part of the process. Sales professionals must focus the customer’s attention on the salience of the findings. They can do this by:
- Presenting material that accounts for the customer’s existing knowledge base
- Avoiding nonessential information that complicates the solution
- Segmenting information to make absorption easier
Incorporating visual cues also helps to underscore the data and make the message and meaning clear.
Pulling together relevant, organized data, supported by complimentary visuals, is best achieved by creating a narrative to improve retention and add context that compels customers to advance the sale.
Good sales narratives follow a logical progression, connecting each stage of the story to the next. Sequence is important because the sales professional needs their solution to fit seamlessly into the story.
Adhering to a conventional story structure to tie data together into a continuous presentation is a good practice. Story structure keeps listeners engaged because it moves. Therefore, sales professionals should not labor over one part. Rather, they should make their point, then move to the next piece.
Conventional story structure answers these three questions:
- “Who wants what from whom?”
- “What happens if they don’t get it?”
- “Why now?”
This template is as relevant to the sales professional as it is to the playwright. In fact, research from economic professor Bruce Wydick shows that identifiable stories incite action more often than statistical stories.
Success in selling belongs to the sales professional who can balance the role of analyst with storyteller. Doing so requires the ability to source, organize, and communicate data in a way that connects the solution to the challenge. Like the progression of a good story, these three pieces fit together in a logical succession. Click here to get the white paper Selling with Data and Storytelling from Richardson Sales Training.
Pipeliner CRM empowers salespeople to sell with storytelling. Get your free trial of Pipeliner CRM now.