Storytelling

We remember and learn things presented as a story much more than things presented as a list of facts, such as PowerPoint bullets.

How do we learn as a child that we should not lie?

Does our mother tell us “Don’t lie”? No, our mother reads us the story of the Boy who Cried Wolf. The moral of this story is that it is not good to tell a lie. The power and effectiveness of storytelling follows us into adulthood.

The Impact of Storytelling

Imagine this scenario; you are making a sales presentation, trying to convince a company to buy your software. Here is the “standard” way of making this sales presentation.

You prepare 6 slides:

  • Information about your company
  • Your professional services capabilities
  • Some consulting work that your company has done
  • Your company’s consulting methodology
  • Features of the software product you are selling

Some of the problems with this type of presentation are:

  • the choice of language is oriented towards “we” – our company, our clients, our locations, our staff and our product
  • the language is typically technical – product features and descriptions

Selling Software with Storytelling

The Port of Somewhere is the third busiest port in the world.

Business Problem

They came to us with this business problem. It was taking up to 10 hours to manually process the paperwork and customs forms to clear a ship through customs. This meant that a ship was sitting at anchor for up to 10 hours before its cargo could be unloaded and new cargo loaded. This delay was unacceptable to both ships and the port authority.

Our Solution

Our solution was to eliminate the paper work and the manual processing of the customs forms. Our solutions and services team designed and implemented a system for the electronic transmission of completed customs forms between ships and the port authority, thereby eliminating the manual processing and keying of data from customs forms.

Benefit to the Client

As a result, it now takes 10 minutes for a ship to clear customs, which means that there is virtually no waiting at anchor in the harbour before a ship’s cargo can be unloaded. The benefit to the port and to ship owners is significant.

How Did We Do This?

How did we accomplish this? Our products and services brought these benefits to the Port Authority.

This story format uses a different language set. It predominantly uses “you (the audience)”:

  • your problem
  • your solution
  • your benefits
  • business language, not technical language

The vocabulary is business not technical. It talks about ships, customs forms, time delays, cargo unloading. This terminology resonates with the audience, in this case a port authority, whereas technical language such as “100% Java” does not. When you use technical language, you are asking the audience to bridge the tremendous gap between technical product features and a solution to their business problem. Audiences cannot bridge this gap – you need to close the gap for them. Do this by avoiding technical language in favour of business language.

Notice also, that the story never mentions a product name or any technical features of a product.

 

 

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