The Irresistible Power of Stories in Virtual Selling

What does the hit on Netflix called The Queen’s Gambit tell us about how to sell in a virtual setting? Actually, something very important.

Before we break down how this show teaches us the key to virtual selling, let’s look at the backstory.

Netflix had a monster hit on their hands. The Queen’s Gambit attracted an audience of 62 million, the most watched scripted series in Netflix history. Chess set sales shot up over 1,100%. Chess book sales grew over 600%. A phenomenon.

But pitching the appeal of a show about chess was quite challenging.  Producer after producer questioned whether enough people would want to watch a show about chess. It took 30 years of rejection before the show made it to the screen.

So, what made the difference?

Very simply, they put a face on chess.

And we can do the exact same thing with our own solutions and value propositions. We can put a face on them.

It’s even more critical now because the lockdown has created enormous challenges for salespeople. Sales has always been a dynamic, relationship-driven exercise. Now we’re forced to function in the virtual environment – which is nowhere near as dynamic – making it hard to inspire, motivate and create memorable moments in the minds and hearts of our customers and prospects.

We need to change how we approach selling virtually or risk having lifeless meetings that are reduced to the mere transfer of information.

So, putting a face on our topic will completely change how our audience views it.

  • Disinterest becomes fascination.
  • Complexity becomes clear.
  • They relate to the unrelatable.
  • And multi-tasking becomes impossible.

So, stop making your audience watch the commercials, give them the show.

Let’s get practical – what does it mean to put a face on our topic?

A face on a topic is any story, anecdote, example or word picture that let’s your audience see what you’re talking about in their mind’s eye. For example, do you have great customer service? Don’t just tell them about it, show them by using a story that illustrates a heroic effort by your support staff to take care of a customer. Put a face on your customer service.

How about your terrific total cost of ownership? Add a story about what a customer was able to do in their business with the monies they saved. Put a face on your total cost of ownership.

That’s exactly what the show did. Few people used to care about some chess opening called the queen’s gambit. But then we became raving cheerleaders for it… because it now had a face.

How should we use the power of the face in our sales presentations? Here’s what we recommend…

Identify every key aspect of your value proposition – add a story to it. And we mean every value proposition. If you leave one out, it gets demoted to just “information.”

Do the same thing with your corporate culture if you use that as a selling point. Communicate the power of a partnership by showing them through storytelling.

In fact, every important point, representation or assertion you make should have a corresponding story. This is the sales messaging litmus test. Every message needs a story.

A message without a story is an incomplete message.

So, go out and change the rules because your next virtual meeting no longer needs to be a faceless one.

Michael Albert

Michael Albert

Michael Albert joined Mandel in 2007 following a 25-year career in enterprise technology sales at Oracle and Seibel. He is a senior level Executive Coach, Trainer and works with Mandel clients on a wide variety of projects, to include when clients need their sales teams to better articulate their differentiators – their value story. Outside of Mandel, Michael has a long and rich storytelling background. Among his projects is a film he wrote and directed which premiered at the D.C. International Film Festival.