Storytelling in sales presentations: how to sell a story and create a sales deck

James Kenny

Posted on: October 15, 2021

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Category: Sales content

Storytelling in sales presentations: how to sell a story and create a sales deck

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They say that those who tell stories rule the world.

Our aim is just a little lower. We’d like to show you how you can weave narrative, suspense and storytelling into your pitch deck. 

You may not rule the world buy you’ll have a better chance of closing that deal.

‘The most amazing thing for me is that every single person who sees a movie brings a whole set of their own unique experiences, but through good storytelling, you can get everybody to clap at the same time, to laugh at the same time, and to be afraid at the same time.”
Steven Spielberg

Sales presentations vs sales pitches

A sales presentation is a sales pitch on steroids. 

It’s a bigger deal, in every sense of that word: conversations and emails have taken place and the deal has finally reached the stage where it could be closed. 

This is the moment to call in the big guns: the presentation enters the scene – usually accompanied by a large meeting and an impressive demo.

Even the most hard-nosed salesperson can get a bit jittery on the day of the presentation. 

After all, they may pitch all day but this is a pitch on steroids.

Storytelling in sales presentations

“And do you know what is the most-often missing ingredient in a sales message? It’s the sales message that doesn’t tell an interesting story. Storytelling…good storytelling…is a vital component of a marketing campaign.”

[All quotes, unless otherwise noted are taken from The Storyteller Agency]

The classic pitch deck starts with a few slides of company info swiftly followed by features and benefits… yawn!

Your prospects do not care about your company, and as for your finely crafted lists of features and benefits… purlease!

What they care about is their challenges

And what they want to hear is a tale of how you can solve these.

So, tell them a story

We all love a story that’s relevant to ourselves.

“No tribal Chief or Elder has ever handed out statistical reports, charts, graphs, or lists to explain where the group is headed or what it must do.”
—Peg Neuhauser, Business Consultant

A story can bring your presentation to life.

Wrap those statistics, facts, quotes and figures up in a neatly tied narrative bundle and watch them come to life. 

“Stories are how we learn best. We absorb numbers and facts and details, but we keep them all glued into our heads with stories.”
—Chris Brogan, Marketing Consultant

And if your story happens to be about a customer who overcame the same challenges as your prospect, then you are well on the way to writing yourself a happy ending.

Stories are persuasive

And we all remember a good story.

“Great storytelling can make the difference between someone paying attention to you and someone just tuning you out.”
Christopher S. Penn, Digital Marketing Authority

Stories foster understanding – and people buy things that they understand.

Here’s how you can make sure they understand.

Kick-off with a problem

Storytelling is by far the most underrated skill when it comes to business.”
Gary Vaynerchuk, Entrepreneur

No story delivers its denouement in the first few pages: instead, it will offer a problem that needs solving

And this problem should be far from universal but very personal to your prospect. In fact, everything in your story should be about the value that you can offer them specifically.

But the hero of your story is change: the change to their business, industry, skills, or to the technology they use. 

And you are the hidden force behind this change.

Have a side story about what might happen if your prospect doesn’t change, bringing to life the consequences of not taking action.

“Facts tell, but stories sell.”
Bryan Eisenberg, Online Marketing Guru

Throw in the solution

Stop! Do not insert that slide about the features and benefits. 

That is not the narrative way.

What you need to do next is paint a picture of what life could look like after change happens. 

How will their business or lives change for the better? 

How will they spend less but earn more?

And now you have the ‘happily ever after’ in place you can introduce your product/service as the hero behind change.

Everyone will be really keen to meet it.

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make but the stories you tell.”
Seth Godin, Marketing Guru

Start with a bang (not a whimper)

The best stories have you hooked before they have even started.

For example:

“Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months.”
J.G. Ballard, High-Rise

Or:

“Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him.”
Graham Greene, Brighton Rock

Or:

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”
Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis 

The best presentations do exactly the same. 

They start with a problem and work towards a solution.

They tell rather than sell.

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