The Simple Formula Your Salespeople Can Use to Master Storytelling and Outsell the Competition


Humans have been using the art of storytelling for thousands of years to tap into their listeners’ emotions and convey a memorable message. Your salespeople can master this age-old technique to vividly illustrate a point, make their sales presentations stand out from the competition, and move a customer into action. Join Lisa Rose, RVP of Sales, and Anita Greenland, VP of Sales as they “demystify” storytelling with a simple formula your salespeople can use in every presentation they deliver.

In 19 hyper-focused minutes, we’ll cover:
  • The 5 critical elements that make up an engaging and persuasive story—and an easy way to remember them!
  • Key components to incorporate into a story to appeal to a buyer’s logic AND emotions
  • How your sales reps can use storytelling to condense complex information into simple, easy-to-understand ideas
  • The Goldilocks principle: balancing length, humor, and scripted content to deliver the perfect story that hits home with an audience

Read the Full Transcript of the Briefinar Below: 

Lisa Rose:    Thank you for joining the Brooks Group Briefinar. We’ll be starting in one minute. Hello and welcome to Briefinars for sales leaders. We promise to be brief, bright and bring it all to you in 19 minutes. Today we’re going to cover the simple formula your salespeople can use to master storytelling and outsell the competition. I’m Lisa Rose, Regional VP of sales at the Brooks Group, and I’m joined today by Anita Greenland, our VP of sales. Hi Anita. 
Anita Greenland:    Hi Lisa. I am so glad to be here today to talk about this topic. 
Lisa Rose:    Me too. 
Anita Greenland:    You guys in the audience keep in mind that we will be sending out a recording of the program today as well as a free download that you can refer back to. 
Lisa Rose:    That’s right. That’s right. 
Anita Greenland:    So, as we were getting ready for this program, I was reminded, Lisa, of an experience that you and I had a couple of years ago when we went to LA to do that training. Do you remember that? 
Lisa Rose:    Oh, that’s right. That was the night we went to the Chateau Marmont. We even saw John Lennon, John Legend and Chrissy Teigen at the Chateau Marmont and there were a lot of beautiful celebrity wannabes and their agents and they were all wining and dining out on the patio. But, the big buzz that night remember was about Kim Kardashian and Kanye West were having a big party there that night. I think that’s where John Legend was.
Anita Greenland:    Yeah. I think he was coming. He and Chrissy were coming to that party. 
Lisa Rose:    That’s right. They were coming out, but it was all about Kanye’s GQ cover spread that was coming out that they were celebrating. 
Anita Greenland:    Well, so while we were out front waiting for our uber driver to pick us up after our lovely dinner, we saw all of these celebrities or wannabe celebrities, beautiful people arriving, being dropped off in these Escalades. And, then this guy pulls up in a Porsche and he had … It was a beautiful Porsche.
Lisa Rose:    Oh, yeah. 
Anita Greenland:    And, he hops out, he has a beautiful date, he tosses the keys to the valet driver. And then what happened, Lisa? 
Lisa Rose:    It was unbelievable. The valet driver was like on top of the world. He gets in all suave, you know? 
Anita Greenland:    Oh, he was so excited. 
Lisa Rose:    Puts the car in gear and guns it, except he put it in reverse instead of drive and backed right into a delivery truck doing about 50. 
Anita Greenland:    Yeah. Yeah. It was a painful moment to watch him. He was fortunately okay. But the Porsche was not okay. 
Lisa Rose:    No. And this was a picture. It’s kind of blurry, but I took this picture from inside the Uber driver of the Porsche back into the delivery trucks. So, even though it’s a little blurry, you still, you can pretty much make out what happened there. 
Anita Greenland:    I just remember we were all standing around. There was a collective, uh. Uh for the car and uh for that valet driver. I’m sure it was his, probably this last night. Yeah, that was his last time driving a Porsche. But, so you guys listening in on our Briefinar, you guys are the Porsche and Lisa and I are the valet drivers. 
Lisa Rose:    Right. But …
Anita Greenland:    Trust us. 
Lisa Rose:    Wait, wait, wait, don’t worry, don’t worry. There is a difference. We promise to drive you forwards to success and not backwards into a delivery truck.
Anita Greenland:    That’s right. No, rewinding. 
Lisa Rose:    That’s right. That’s right. Well, let’s talk about storytelling. Storytelling actually predates writing. The earliest forms of storytelling were usually spoken combined with gestures and expressions. Think of moral or spiritual lesson parables that are in the Bible or even cultural, traditional beliefs that are embedded in a folklore, folklore. All are proof that stories can touch the emotions more effectively, even in sales. So, how does that relate to business to business sales? That’s what we’re going to illustrate for you today and give you some tips on how to do it. 
Anita Greenland:    Yeah, well, and stories are so effective and here is why. There’s a number of reasons. First, it helps to illuminate the human side of business. So, you’re a person just like the person that you’re selling to, right? You’re both human beings and they’re going to, you’re going to be able to create better buy in by communicating with them in that perspective.
Lisa Rose:    And you know how at the beginning of a sales presentation, there’s always that little bit of awkwardness. You’re a little nervous. They don’t know what to make of you. Sometimes it breaks the ice and gets everybody relaxed, right?
Anita Greenland:    Exactly. Very good. Also, it makes the complex simple. The bottom line is is that simple equals memorable. 
Lisa Rose:    Right. A confused buyer buys nothing. 
Anita Greenland:    Amen. And, it vividly illustrates a point. So, you’re going to remember that Porsche’s story and you guys in our listening audience. If you’re driving down the road and you see a Porsche, you’re probably going to remember that you need to come up with a story for a particular sales topic. So, there you go. 
Lisa Rose:    Or at least remember to put it into drive and not reverse. Yes, exactly. But, more importantly, stories create impact and buy in. Anita, mentioned it at the beginning. It really does drive the point home and stories can address difficult or challenging situations as well and explain the benefits of a product or a solution. 
Lisa Rose:    I recently bought a car when the salesperson told me he had been a police officer and in crash investigations they found that people were safer in this model of car. I was sold. I was buying that car.
Anita Greenland:    And it is a beautiful car.
Lisa Rose:    Well, thank you.
Anita Greenland:    So, it … There are five critical elements that you want to incorporate so that you can make your story engaging and persuasive, and interestingly, they form a nice little acronym called PROSE.
Lisa Rose:    Yep. 
Anita Greenland:    P-R-O-S-E. And, so let’s talk about each of those elements. The first one is players. So, you know, who are the players in your story? Every good story should have at least one person that your audience can identify with or relate to in some way. So, in the story that I shared about the or that we talked about is the players were me and Lisa, the valet driver, and you guys, the Briefinar audience. 
Lisa Rose:    Yep. Yep.
Anita Greenland:    So, the R represents relevance. So, you know, what’s in this message for your client. You want to make sure that message is clear and relevant by linking it to what you’ve learned about the organization and its needs. 
Lisa Rose:    Yeah. What? You don’t want somebody sitting there listening to your story and thinking, how does this relate to me, right?
Anita Greenland:    Right. 
Lisa Rose:    Which hopefully you weren’t. Then we talked about the Porsche. 
Anita Greenland:    That’s right. So, you know, good storytelling creates engagement. You might not have known exactly where we were going with that story, but you were listening and we kept it short enough to keep your attention. The O represents objective. So, a story can add entertainment to a sales presentation, but the main focus should be to move your prospect or your customer into action. 
Lisa Rose:    Right.
Anita Greenland:    So, the action that we wanted out of you guys was to create interest. We wanted you to stay interested in our topic of storytelling and …
Lisa Rose:    And hopefully you’re still listening.
Anita Greenland:    That’s right. 
Lisa Rose:    So, it worked to some regard. 
Anita Greenland:    If you’re hearing this, you’re still listening. 
Lisa Rose:    Right. 
Anita Greenland:    The S represents summit. So, all engaging stories have to build up to some sort of summit or climax or crescendo of some sort. And, you know, just before the resolution is uncovered. 
Lisa Rose:    Like climbing a mountain. 
Anita Greenland:    Getting to the very top of the summit, right? 
Lisa Rose:    Yes. Exactly. And, and you want this part of the story to tap into your audience’s emotion, especially particularly empathy. And, in our story, you know, the summit was the valet driver backing into the Porsche. 
Anita Greenland:    Right.
Lisa Rose:    And we had a lot of empathy and I’m sure you guys listening in, just thinking about that happening, had some empathy for that poor valet driver. 
Anita Greenland:    And as entertaining as it was, we had empathy to.
Lisa Rose:    Yes, we did. 
Anita Greenland:    That’s why we all went, Ooh.
Lisa Rose:    Yes, that’s right. 
Anita Greenland:    And then there should be an ending. Basically where you’re tying it all together. The ending of your story should reveal how the character’s solved or overcame the challenge at hand. And our ending is that we wanted you to know that you were in good hands with the two of us, with Lisa and I, and that we are experts that are going to help drive you forward to success and not backwards into a delivery truck. 
Lisa Rose:    Exactly. Now, so notice that it’s … This is the acronym and one thing that’s not on here that I think is real important is to practice. 
Anita Greenland:    Right.
Lisa Rose:    Is to really, you know, think about your story with these five elements and practice it and you will receive a downloadable document that you can share with your people that will enable them to outline the story using this format and you should practice it with them. 
Anita Greenland:    Exactly right, because when you’re delivering the story, you want it to seem spontaneous and you want to make it seem like you’re just thinking of it. But, in reality, we all know we’ve tried that and we’ve tripped all over ourselves in trying to tell stories so it’s better to practice.
Lisa Rose:    Yeah. You’ll feel more confident, it’ll be more fluid. You just don’t want it to sound scripted or rehearsed. 
Anita Greenland:    Right. 
Lisa Rose:    But, if you practice it, then that’s going to really help everything to flow naturally. 
Anita Greenland:    Right. 
Lisa Rose:    So, let’s talk about the Goldilocks Principle. I call this the balance beam of storytelling. Too much of a good thing can work against you. So, let’s look at three different elements that make this up. The very first one is length. We’ll start with length. It’s easy to get carried away with a good story and keep it going, but two … If you keep it under two minutes, you’ll have the most impact. If you keep going on and on, you’re going to lose them. And remind your salespeople as you’re helping them build the stories that the story should be used to enhance a sales presentation, not to replace it. You can’t just walk in there and tell them a story about the success a client of yours has had and expect that to sell it. 
Anita Greenland:    Right.
Lisa Rose:    You still have to sell. 
Anita Greenland:    Right.
Lisa Rose:    Unfortunately. 
Anita Greenland:    Right. 
Lisa Rose:    The second part is humor. So, a little bit of humor can go along way in adding life to a PowerPoint presentation, and the story is a great opportunity to elicit a few laughs, but don’t go too far. Your salespeople should be … Look around the room again, as we mentioned, and get a sense of who’s there and what the behavioral style of the prospects are to determine the right amount of humor to use and how to communicate in general overall for your presentation. For instance, some behavioral styles don’t want you to be yucking it up. They may be more analytical and a little more buttoned up. Look around the room and if you can get them to smile, then you’ve had a huge success.
Anita Greenland:    That’s right. 
Lisa Rose:    And then the third element is scripted content. Anita you touched on this earlier, a compelling story feels spontaneous and generous and genuine instead of it sounding rehearsed. So, coach your salespeople to develop a handful of stories that can be used in their presentations and then have them practice delivering it to them without memorizing it line for line. And once they feel confident on what the fundamentals of the story are, they’ll be able to weave them in naturally so the timing’s right. So, they won’t have it set in the set place. It’ll be when it comes up naturally. It can be a good idea for salespeople to know exactly how they want the story to end and the most impact they want to have on the prospect. So, coach your reps to keep the beginning and the middle of the story somewhat spontaneous, but really nail down the closing words for that final impact you want to have with the prospects. 
Anita Greenland:    Yep, exactly. So, effective storytelling is a great way to empower your salespeople to stand out from the competition in today’s marketplace. You know, any edge that you can get in and storytelling is a great way to provide that. You know, it’s just one of our strategies that’s taught to the participants in our training program, impact selling for the complex marketplace. There’s a lot of other benefits as well though, right Lisa? 
Lisa Rose:    Yeah. I think more and more of us are starting to see you’re not just selling to one person anymore, you’re selling to committees and you know, driving through that complex way of selling has really elevated the skillset needed for success. So, this program teaches salespeople how to understand different stakeholders priorities and gain access to different stakeholders within an organization. It also teaches them how to navigate through a decision by committee process like we were just speaking of. How to better position yourself as a strategic resource by improving your business acumen and providing thought leadership to your stakeholders within the organization. You know, sending them some articles, keeping them up to speed on relevant topics.
Lisa Rose:    More effectively handling objections. Oftentimes we’re saying objections several times from several different people in the committee and then conducting business reviews and so much more. This really … This program really does elevate the sales skill level of the participants. To learn more about impact selling for the complex marketplace, feel free to email me at LRose, like the flower, at the Brooks, or contact us at We’d be more than willing to help you learn about this program and others we offer. Now, we do have a few questions that were sent in ahead of time that we want to make sure to cover. The first one, is there any time it’s inappropriate to use a story in a sales presentation? 
Anita Greenland:    That’s a great question. I would say if you only have a short amount of time to give your presentation, be very careful about what stories you include. As I said earlier, you know, it’s easy to get carried away on a story and then you finally get back to the point and starting your presentation, they say we’re out of time. 
Lisa Rose:    Yeah. 
Anita Greenland:    Or look around the room. If you go into a room, a very talkative, gregarious people, you can really derail them with a good story, because your story might be too good. And then you start talking about other things. So, again, judge the room and take a look who you’re delivering it to, engage your ability to do it. 
Lisa Rose:    And remember that two minutes is the maximum amount that the story … The story can be 20, 30 seconds. 
Anita Greenland:    Right. Yeah. Good point.
Lisa Rose:    So, if you have a limited amount of time, you can still use stories, just keep it short and sweet. 
Anita Greenland:    Succinct. Yep.
Lisa Rose:    Yep. 
Anita Greenland:    How can you use stories to build your brand or can you? And you absolutely can. I think that’s the most effective way of building your brand is through stories. I tell this one quite often. We have, had a impact selling or a fundamental selling skills class and we were working with a group of people who were selling truck parts. And so, you know, they were willing to learn anything, but this one woman made one change, one small change to what she did after going through that training. And what she did was at the end of any conversation she had with a dealership or a repair place, she said, do you mind if I check your shelves and see if you need to be stocked up on anything? And you know, 95 percent of the time they said no, I don’t mind at all. She increased her sales by more than 80 percent just by adding that one sentence to the end of her meeting, her sales meeting. 
Anita Greenland:    And so I use that story quite often to build our brand for impact selling. So, making small changes can really help elevate your game. So, there’s a good example of how to build your brand.
Lisa Rose:    Mm-hmm. And making small changes like incorporating stories.
Anita Greenland:    Yep, absolutely.
Lisa Rose:    Can make a big difference. 
Anita Greenland:    Yep. Mm-hmm. And the third question that we had is, are there any topics that should be off limits in a story? That’s a great one. 
Lisa Rose:    And, you know, I … Use the rule of the cocktail party or what you should and should not talk about at Thanksgiving dinner is stay away from religion, politics and income.
Anita Greenland:    Income levels. 
Lisa Rose:    Yes, off limits. 
Anita Greenland:    Right. Right. 
Lisa Rose:    Otherwise you’re … You should be pretty safe. But again, it still goes back to knowing your audience also. 
Anita Greenland:    Right. For instance, you might not want to talk about your favorite sports team. If you’ve done your research and the key decision maker went to the alma mater of your arch rival. 
Lisa Rose:    Right, right, right, right. 
Anita Greenland:    That would be one to stay away from, especially during March Madness.
Lisa Rose:    Yeah, right. Exactly. Yeah. So, it goes back to that pre call planning. The better job you do at pre call planning, the more effectively that you can use storytelling. 
Anita Greenland:    Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, I think we kept it under 19 minutes. 
Lisa Rose:    We did. 
Anita Greenland:    We did. 
Lisa Rose:    Yes. So thank you all for joining us. 
Anita Greenland:    And again, please email Lisa at [email protected] or reach out to us at, if you have any additional questions or need any more information.
Lisa Rose:    And we’ll be sending out a worksheet so you can start working with your sales reps on how to build their stories for success.
Anita Greenland:    Yes. 
Lisa Rose:    Have a great day. Thank you.

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