Monday, March 22, 2010

Telling Stories

Last night my wife and I went to a Chris Botti concert. Besides being an outstanding jazz musician and trumpet player, I also discovered that Chris is an outstanding teller of stories. Although his music was enough to engage the audience for a full two hours, he kept people totally riveted in their seats by providing context and background to his pieces.

Think about it - most concerts you go to the performers will say something like "here's a new song from our latest album, titled <....>, we hope you like it". Chris provided an entertaining story about the song. His finale featured a Frank Sinatra tune, but he wrapped it in a story about how he dropped out of college his senior year for the opportunity to play with Sinatra for two weeks as his first professional musical gig. He segued into a story where he asked all the young musicians in the audience to stand up and then wrapped that back into how his parents felt when he quit school. Then and only then did he play.

Telling stories is important. As a PreSales Engineer it is one of the most important things you can do during the sales cycle to boost your credibility and reduce the perceived risk of the customer. It also helps to make your message "stick". Practice your stories, share them with your colleagues and personalize them - it's way better than reciting speeds and feeds!