This article has been awarded the gold medal
in the “Top Sales & Marketing Blog Posts” category
of the 2011 Top Sales & Marketing Awards.
What do Castle, The Next Food Network Star, and The Apprentice have in common? Yes, they are all popular television shows but, more importantly, each one can teach us something different about an essential sales skill: storytelling. If you’d like to improve your ability to tell effective stories (or are looking for a solid business excuse to watch more evening TV), read on and see what each of these television shows have to teach you about storytelling.
“Do your Research” – Castle
Rick Castle is always telling a story and with each one he tells, I find myself imagining the scenario he suggests. Castle achieves this because (although very funny in the rest of his life) he is serious enough about his craft to make the effort to understand his subjects and their situations. Before you start a story, ensure that it is applicable to your audience by studying their needs, your offerings, and how their needs interact with your offerings. Furthermore, like Castle, don’t be afraid to reach out to an expert to obtain the understanding you need. Once you have completed your research, you will be better equipped to convey the details of your story so that your audience can feel as though they were actually experiencing it alongside you.
“Showcase Yourself” – The Next Food Network Star
In sales, different styles of “rapport building” are commonly discussed and, in The Next Food Network Star, we learn that the easiest way to form a connection with your audience is to tell a story about yourself. Any information you share should be personal (but not too personal), interesting, and easily relatable to your target audience while also conveying the important educational information you promised to share. Helping your audience feel like they know you as a person will in turn help them to balance liking you (and trusting you) with thinking of you as the expert they want to learn from.
“Tell the Truth” – The Apprentice
In the boardroom, contestants tell Donald Trump (or Lord Allen Sugar, if you’re watching in the UK) what happened during the task and how they contributed to their team’s success or failure. These stories typically contain inconsistencies which are later exposed in a montage of pre-recorded video clips to refresh the viewer’s memory or statements from the trusted advisors to influence that evening’s decisions. Although your audience will not learn of your lies (that is, after all, what they are) through video replay or an advisor’s observation, eventually the truth will come out. If you don’t want to hear “you’re fired” in real life, don’t fabricate your stories.
In sales, effective storytelling is an essential skill that must be mastered to connect with your audience and close more sales. So, as you are watching your favorite television shows this week (or re-runs until the next season premiers), pay closer attention… you just might learn something useful.