How to do social selling through storytelling

People tend to remember and relate to stories more than numbers and stats. It is in human nature to relate to stories (words and visuals) better than numbers. Even if we look back at our childhood, it becomes evident that it was the power of storytelling that helped us to learn language to express our emotions.

Numbers and stats are of course important; in fact they are inseparable components of life and business. Without numbers we are unable to:

  • Measure
  • Sell
  • Buy
  • Calculate
  • Travel
  • Count our age and those happy birthdays (of course ladies never get older than 21 or max 22; so ladies you’re exempt in this particular example but still need numbers for shopping) 😉
  • And you name it…

As many people believe, content is king; content within context of course and content within context is storytelling. Storytelling brings people together and attracts their attention; even help salespeople sell better; storytelling is the fuel for social selling (something I aim to touch in this post).

Gerry Moran said in one of his tweets “storytelling just makes things easier to understand”; and he is right. Storytelling is all about people, their passion, interest and attention span. According to some research into human psychology; human attention span is 6 seconds. It’s worth mentioning Vine here and its 6 seconds videos; because I personally think the platform is built based on human behaviour and psychology; 6 seconds attention span. Therefore Vine can be the right platform for brands to build relationship, interact and engage with their audience; simple principles of social selling. Isn’t this about storytelling in itself? A massive part of storytelling is about listening; maybe the ratio is 8:2 (anecdotal).

You will lose the attention of your audience by just sharing numbers, percentages and figures; or if expecting them to talk to you only about numbers. So, no wonder that we see many books and interesting videos about power of storytelling and visual content being published every day.

Effective storytelling can make major changes in business and selling in particular; you just need to know your stuff and those going to listen to your story. So, storytelling has an element of psychology and people skills. Knowing your stuff helps your confidence and makes you feel comfortable when sharing your story; and that is easily seen by those listening to your story.

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Almost every single day businesses hire new people, go for business pitches and run presentations; they have to keep the information flow easily and they need to maintain the attention of their audience. They need to create a fine balance between stats and words, which is not an easy job. Businesses need confident and good storytellers; the era of blonde girls, short dresses and certain client entertainments are over. Today is all about integrity and transparency, even in business and selling; and no one should be struggling with that. This is how social selling actually works; very simple and straight forward.

Until around 2012, we thought selling is just about cold calling, direct mails, email marketing and all other types of selling techniques that you know 100 times better than me. And until early 2014 we thought selling is about closing; aka ABC:

social selling, social media, always be selling, consultative selling, sales, marketing, public relations, pr, social media

Although I really like the film Glengarry Glen Ross (a great storyteller) but, I think the concept of selling has evolved to some extent. I might be wrong, please correct me if you think so. Selling and effective methods of selling are shifting more towards social; one step beyond digital. Social selling and consultative selling is the way forward. Once again it’s worth mentioning that the two have to go together in order to ensure outcome and see real money hitting your bank account on a regular basis. Social selling and consultative selling is not about closing but about relationship building and opening (strategic selling opportunities). So, honesty and transparency in your approach can and will make or break the deals you are aiming for.

Social selling process can be quite complex, due to various factors such as competition and choices available to buyers; and more importantly if you approach it with a traditional mindset and old skool sales management and strategy. Of course, in B2B concept, clarity of requirements, organisational structure and budget play major roles too; and certainly what you sell not how you sell. Thus systematic and strategic evaluation of market shifts as well as future needs deem to be a fundamental part of social selling and consultative selling. Needless to say, consistency is also a key factor to bear in mind. So, consistently tell a story that resonates with people; then you never need to sell a thing.

Lastly, please don’t create abbreviations to look “cool” or more buzzwords like storydoing; then you have to struggle with finding a “definition” for your made up terms. Let’s not make things more complicated and keep everything simple and to do the point. If you want to be sophisticated, may I suggest to stick to the phrase: lead from the front!?

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Ehsan has been working in social media and digital PR since 2006. He is a keen blogger and has over 40 published articles. He has spoken about social media and digital branding at the British Chamber of Commerce, University of Westminster, University of Milan and numerous startup communities in Europe. Michigan State University and Miami University have referenced his work in their study of social media in 2012.