Getting Started with Storyselling: How Your Salespeople Can Close More Deals by Telling Stories

The first potato chip ever made was intended as an insult.

The year was 1853. George Crum was a chef at the upscale Moon’s Lake House in Saratoga Springs, NY.

One day, a patron complained about Mr. Crum’s fried potatoes. He called them soggy and bland. He sent them back and demanded a new batch.

Mr. Crum did not deal well with the feedback. He proceeded to slice a potato into paper-thin cuts and fried them until they were so delicate you could shatter them with a light pressure between two fingers. Next, he over-salted his new creation and sent it out to the disappointed patron.

The patron? He loved it so much that he ordered a second serving.

The word quickly spread, and soon “Saratoga Chips” were known all over New England.

Today, we have a multi-billion dollar snack industry that simply began as an intended insult.

Next time you see someone eating potato chips, what do you think the odds are of you telling them this story? We say it’s pretty high.

And next, what if we told you all you need to do to close a deal is tell a good story?

Think we’re crazy? Perhaps a little. But science is on our side.

In this post, we’ll examine how a story-based approach can help you communicate and ultimately sell your product or service more effectively.

But let’s start from the beginning. Why the heck do stories work so well?

Why do Stories Work?

Humans have been using stories as a primary method of communication for over 40,000 years. But why do they stick in our memories? Why do we tell them over and over again? Why do they have such a huge impact on us and the way we interact with each other?

The simple answer? We’re wired that way. We store, index, and retrieve information in the form of stories.

Research shows our brains are not hard-wired to understand logic or retain facts for very long. Our brains are wired to understand and retain stories. A story is a journey that moves the listener, and when the listener goes on that journey they feel different. The result is persuasion and sometimes action.

Jennifer Aaker, marketing professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business

That’s right. Evolution has designed our brains for storytelling. When we hear stories, chemicals are released in our brains that make us feel empathy and motivate us to cooperate with other people. This neural mechanism allows us to develop relationships with strangers.


Once a story has captured our attention for long enough, we become emotionally invested. That’s why stories can do something to us that facts and figures can’t achieve. They can move us to tears or change our attitudes, opinions, and behaviors.

When you sell a product, your prospect will start thinking about their current day and their daily challenges. Next, they’ll then start imagining how your product or service will resolve those challenges.

But before we get into all that, let’s consider what it takes to craft a good story.

The Core Elements of a Compelling Story

You don’t have to be a natural storyteller to tell a good story. You need to understand the basic mechanics of it to effectively convey a message.

These are the seven core elements of a story.

1. Stasis

This is the everyday life in which a story is set.

2. Trigger

The trigger is beyond the control of the protagonist and can be either unpleasant or pleasant.

3. Quest

The trigger leads to a quest for a solution.

4. Critical choice

This is when the protagonist must make a tough decision, which reveals their character.

5. Climax

The decision the protagonist makes results in the highest peak of tension in the narrative.

6. Reversal

The reversal is the result of the critical choice and climax. This will change the status of the character.

7. Resolution

The resolution is a return to a new, fresh stasis. The characters should be changed, as they’re now wiser and enlightened. At this point, the story is complete.

Now, we will use the above elements and demonstrate them in the context of our CRM.

The Search for a Better Sales Process (Example)

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When Mark started his new job, the company looked very different from today.


The individual sales reps fully controlled the sales process. The data was all over the place. Everything was highly time-consuming.


As the recently hired Sales Manager, all eyes were on him to make things better.


So, Mark went looking for a solution. He needed an automated sales process to help his reps be more productive and not spend all their time on admin tasks and data entry.

Soon, he found our inside sales CRM, Close.

Critical choice

After a few calculations, he realized that the investment was a no-brainer.

The CRM would significantly reduce the time his reps spent on calls, entering notes, and writing and sending emails. That time saved would add up to approximately $60,000 per rep per year.

He bought it.


The following day, Mark introduced the new tool to his sales reps.


In the first week, one rep increased his personal sales by 50 percent and others by 10–20 percent.


Since then, the trend has continued. The sales reps are more productive than ever and consistently generate more revenue.

This is the story of a real Close customer. Next, let’s look at how you can bring storytelling into your sales process.

How to Bring Storyselling Into Your Sales Process

First things first, what exactly is storytelling?

Storyselling is selling your product or service through telling a story./div>

But there’s much more to it than what this simple explanation provides. Using stories in sales will help you:

  • Capture the attention of your prospect or customer
  • Build trust and rapport
  • Motivate your prospect or customer to take action
  • Create context around data and numbers to make them interesting and relevant
  • Transform beliefs and change behaviors

You can use stories at every stage of the sales process: explaining product features, handling objections, answering questions, and negotiating.

Depending on your prospect’s situation, you’ll want to use one or a combination of company, product, customer, or personal stories.

The Company Story

Every company has a founding story, a reason why the business exists. Often, it starts with a passion, an idea, or a revelation. Share that story. It’ll create authenticity and credibility.

Have you ever heard the story of Close? This is why we exist and continue to build the best inside sales CRM on the market.

The Product Story

Your product story can be about the inception of your product, how it changed and improved over time, and why it is what it is today.

Push for Pizza uses the story behind how they came up with the idea for the app in this brilliantly simple ad.

Customer Stories

By sharing your customer stories, your prospects will be able to visualize what they can do using your product or service. This will give your product or service a higher level of relevance, regardless of their situation.

Airbnb does an amazing job at putting its customers (hosts and guests) at the center of its brand. Look at Stories from the Airbnb community, and you’ll see what we mean.

Your Personal Story

People buy from people they trust, like, and connect with. People connect through stories. Sharing your personal story will help build trust and rapport with your prospect.

In one of the Medium's posts, The Muse founder Kathryn Minshew shares her failures that ultimately led to a highly successful business.

The Happy Ending

We don’t like change.

In fact, science tells us we don’t just dislike it—we fight it. Our brains want to stay put. They want to be comfortable and safe. So, to change, we need to both see and feel a new and better way of doing things. This can be achieved through stories.

Limitations to change only exist in our heads. Once we change our minds, we can change (and improve) our business.

Present your prospect with two outcomes:

  1. The happy ending: Your prospect takes action (buys your product or service) and it results in a positive change, e.g. more productive sales reps, increased revenue.
  2. The heartbreaking ending: Your prospect doesn’t take action and starts falling behind their competitors, putting the entire business at risk.

Your story is not about features. It’s about a narrated journey that transforms the lives of your prospects and customers and leaves them in a better place than before.

How to Get Started with Storyselling Today

Getting started with storyselling is easier than you might think. How about we start right now?

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Collect existing stories from your team. Not just from sales reps but include marketing, product, and devs too. Get every department involved.
  2. Evaluate the stories you’ve collected. Do this together with your salespeople and get the full scope of which stories have been successful in the past.
  3. Figure out what’s missing. Are the stories good enough, or do you need new and better stories?
  4. Create new stories. Based on current inventory, you might need to create new stories that are better suited to tackle common objections.
  5. Test your stories. Test your existing and newly crafted stories on your leads. Start with less important leads, and once you learn what’s working and not working, begin using your best stories on more important leads.
  6. Maintain your story inventory. Keep an inventory (a spreadsheet will do!) of your most successful stories that are accessible to your entire sales team.
  7. Do consistent check-ins. Are the stories working as well as they used to? Can they be replaced with better stories? Keep an eye on the use of stories to make sure they achieve what they should.

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