Start with WHY: The Secret to Good Storytelling Part 2


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When You Open Your Mouth, Have a Point

When ever I think of stories, I’m always reminded of one of the best movie lines of all time from a movie full of great ones, “Trains, Planes and Automobiles”. Steve Martin (Neal) has already had his fill of John Candy’s (Del) character and finally loses it after hearing another of Del’s stories:

“And by the way, you know, when you’re telling these little stories? Here’s a good idea … have a POINT. It makes it so much more interesting for the listener.”

Trains, Planes and Automobiies

Trains, Planes and Automobiles

Don’t you wish every encounter with a seller started with a story that had a point? Lately all my dealings with sales folks have been maddening. I feel like asking them, “what’s your point, because I really don’t understand what you want and why I should listen to you”. It seems that sellers are too busy focusing on the WHAT and HOW, that they almost always forget the WHY. Without the WHY, there is no story and nothing for me to connect to for context that makes the story interesting and makes me curious.

Start with the Point

Just once I wish a sales person who has never met me before would take some time and do enough research so that he starts the conversation with a very clear point. Let me give you an example. Since I deal with a large number of CEOs, I have found that having stories that relate to beliefs and challenges that they typically deal with to be important to make that vital connection at the start of conversation. One of my favorites goes like this:

“Hi John, can I share a story with you about another CEO who believed that their must be a simpler way for his sales team to talk about his company (product) with his target buyers?”

The answer is usually yes, which then gives me permission to spend 2 to 3 minutes to tell that story. Notice the words I used.

Can I share a story

About another CEO who believed

Everyone likes to hear a story. That opens the door and relaxes our brain, but the next line is the point of the story and provides the listener with the reason WHY I want to tell them about WHAT I did for that other CEO and HOW I solved his problem.

The Golden Circle – From the Inside Out

Simon Sinek wrote a fascinating book entitled, “Start With Why”, that explains that as listeners we process information from the inside out. It all starts with our emotional brain, where we process information by understanding the WHY of the story before our thinking brain kicks in by applying the rational arguments associated with all the facts and figures. Sinek calls it the “golden circle” which depicts three concentric circles starting with WHY in the middle followed by WHAT and then HOW. The WHY is your belief, your cause, your purpose and that is what listeners connect to. As Sinek explains, “People buy WHY you do it, not what you do.”

The Golden Circle – Simon Sinek

If you think of my CEO example above, the point of my story is that every one on the sales team can learn to tell a more effective story and more easily connect with buyers. That is my belief that is important to share to connect emotionally with my buyer’s beliefs. With that connection, I can now explain the specifics of what I do and how I do it to make that belief a reality.

Listen to Simon explain the power of the golden circle in this compelling TED talk presentation.

So that’s my story today, What’s yours?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Henry Bruce
Henry Bruce is the founder of the Rock Annand Group, a client acquisition strategy consulting firm focused on the B2B software industry. Henry is a passionate B2B sales and marketing strategist and blogger who brings over 30 years of operational software experience to his engagements. Henry specializes in developing programs that deliver results in 90 days or less.


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