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Meryl Snow

Storytelling: The Ultimate Sales Technique for Special Events

A great event sale depends on a great pitch--here are tips to help you tell the story.

Our life is all about telling stories; it always has been. Since prehistoric times, we have passed knowledge on through stories, and it’s something that continues today.

The problem is that when we are selling events, we leave stories out of our pitches and presentations. We are so stuck to the same set of rules that we forget deviation can often be a good thing.

So, why aren’t you telling stories in your pitch? Why do stories matter anyway?

Why It Matters: Stories Create Connections
We are all connected by the stories we share and by those we tell. We can relate to people who have a story, and we feel closer to them when we understand more about what makes them who they are. The most significant part of our brain, the neocortex, is responsible for how we store memory, for remembering patterns and sequences (like in songs) and for conscious thought.

This part of the brain is why you can recognize a song after three beats, and it plays a significant role in making connections with others through stories.

The Different Types of Story
There are three different types of story that can be told, and each of them is important when building a connection with customers:

  • Connect
  • Differentiate
  • Close

The stories that act to connect contain your personal stories, how you got to where you are and why. They also have important stories that relate to your staff (because they are crucial to your company, too), and those that revolve around the creation of the company.

The ones that differentiate give insight into the company and the way it works, why it is the way it is, and what makes you different from the rest. They also contain success stories, because people like to feel good and celebrate these things with you. Customers should be rooting for you, and success stories achieve this.

The stories to close are those that contain morals, company values and the things you appreciate about your customers. They are stories that teach customers through your experiences, as well as showing them just how important they are to your business.

A Storytelling Case Study
One of my favorite examples for a company that does storytelling right is BrewDog.

Let me tell you, I don’t even drink beer, but I would buy theirs, and I would spend more than retail price on it. That’s an honest comment because they just ticked so many boxes. Let me show you why:

It’s the story of two friends in Scotland who created their own beer, and it took them a lot of time, a lot of pain and a lot of love, but they made an exceptional brand that is loved across the world. They’ve grown so much that they even opened the first beer hotel--pretty fantastic stuff.

It all started in 2007 in an industrial estate, two men and their dog (that little addition just makes the story), and the desire to create a new and spectacular beer. The story on their website follows a detailed timeline that goes from then to now, and you can follow every step of their journey to success. They include their failures, the victories and that faithful dog who has been there since the start.

The story resonates with us, and they continue that feeling in their marketing. Slogans such as “We Bleed Beer” on their landing page just further demonstrate their passion for what they do. These two men bring the love they have for their beer to their customers, and that’s what you have to do as salespeople. If you don’t have your A-game on, then you aren’t going to convince customers that they need to buy from you.

These two guys, James and Martin, focus their story around four key moments, and these are the ones you should remember:

  1. They encounter a problem: Industrially brewed lagers and ales are boring.
  2. They have a spark of insight: What if we can fix this problem?
  3. They start their own brewery, brewing in tiny batches.
  4. They are now on a mission: to make more people passionate about their craft beer.

What Can You Do?
The things to remember are that you should always include personality and passion in each of the conversations you have. Being a salesperson is about sharing stories, connecting with the customer, and building that bond. However, there are rules to the storytelling process that need to be followed:

You should always keep it real. Some companies enjoy and even benefit from the odd embellishment, but they are a trap. Later on, you will trip over yourself and be revealed as a liar. That’s not good for business, and people prefer someone authentic and genuine. It doesn’t need to be the tale of the century; it just needs to be real.

Following that, you should also remember the three C’s of excellent writing:

  • Clear
  • Confident
  • Concise

These make up the recipe for success and, combined with the process for writing your story below, you will be able to create something meaningful and spectacular:

  • What is the story I want to tell?
  • How will I deliver the story?
  • What kind of client participation do I want or need?
  • How will client participation affect the story over time?

Now you’re ready to get out there and tell the world your story. Just remember to keep it real, and you’ll have no issues drawing your customers in and leaving them feeling better connected.

With nearly 30 years in the special event and catering industry, Meryl Snow is the co-founder of Feastivities Events and the creator of The Triangle Method. As a senior consultant for Certified Catering Consultants, she travels throughout North America training clients in the areas of sales, marketing, design and branding to help businesses get on their own path to success.


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