26th February 2019

  • International consultancy advices to ditch standard sales pitch – use storytelling instead!
  • New three-way storytelling approach proves far more successful.
  • Storytelling builds trust and confidence in buyer and seller.

GREAT selling starts with storytelling, suggests international sales consultancy Whitten & Roy Partnership.

Presenting at the ‘Good Stories’ event, organized by Pioneers Post, the publisher for responsible business leaders and social entrepreneurs, Whitten & Roy Partnership highlights the need for salespeople to genuinely listen to customers’ stories instead of steaming ahead blurting out ready elevator sales pitches.

Scott Roy, co-director of Whitten & Roy Partnership, explains: “Storytelling is such a simple and yet powerful skill. But despite this, in our 40 years of sales experience, we’ve encountered very few people actually using stories during their sales efforts, or at least using them effectively.”

Roy Whitten, co-director of Whitten & Roy Partnership, adds: “The stereotypical way of selling – pitching sales features founded on poor guesses of customers’ needs – is a particularly unfortunate match for organisations that operate in the social or environmental space.”

This week’s one-day event in the City of London, aimed professionals running or working for social enterprises and mission-driven businesses as well as those at social enterprise support organisations, helped attendees to think more strategically about their work and offered opportunities to exchange thoughts and experiences with fellow entrepreneurs and communicators.

During Whitten & Roy Partnership’s practical, discussion-led workshop titled ‘Enough of the elevator pitch: how thoughtful storytelling drives sales’ attendees learned to replace their usual, short sales pitch with more powerful techniques that invite the customer to tell their own story.”

Briggy Kiddle, who led the session for Whitten & Roy Partnership, explains: “The aim has been to get the participants thinking differently about using storytelling when engaging with customers in both a sales and marketing context. Giving the customer the space to tell their own story, in turn, allows to link their experiences to one’s own company background – a powerful symbiosis is formed.”

Jon Maguire, co-founder and communications director from Ethical Compass, who attended the sales training workshop, comments: “Briggy Kiddle from Whitten & Roy Partnership created such a buzz, or should I say, she helped us to create such a buzz. I was able to make some great new connections during the interactive session and learned so much about how to stand out in this often crowded marketplace.”

In practice Whitten & Roy Partnership’s storytelling sales approach boils down to two key steps:

  • Firstly, understanding the customer’s situation, which involves listening to the customer’s story, including their body language and encouraging digging deeper while avoiding jumping in. The more problems that are unearthed this way, the more opportunities arise that are up for grabs to be solved.
  • Secondly, now that the customer has gained a more receptive mode, tailoring the solution to fit only the problems of the potential customer, ideally using third-party success stories for further illustration.

Scott Roy concludes: “Ultimately this three-way storytelling approach – first by listening and understanding the customer’s story, then by sharing one’s own experiences, and lastly by matching their situation to other customers – gives prospective customers trust and confidence, in oneself and the seller.”

Since 2009 Whitten & Roy Partnership has helped socially minded businesses sell life-changing products and manage their people in an ethical way in over 125 projects across over 40 countries. The company works closely with a range of prestigious foundations, such as the Ashden Foundation, the Omidyar Network and the Shell Foundation.