Storytelling can be a great tool in corporate training.  And, corporate trainers who use storytelling in sales training have a better chance at keeping their audience’s attention, making it easier for the trainees to remember the training material.

As a beginning storyteller, there are some common pitfalls which one can easily avoid that will make the storytelling much more compelling.

Not sharing failures

failureIf you’re a corporate trainer who specializes in sales training, you might think that you shouldn’t share anything negative with your audience.  Your audience just wants to hear how easy it will be to sell and how much money they’ll make, right?  Not so fast.

Think about your own favorite characters.  Were all of them perfect or was there some failure along the way that they had to overcome?

Most of them overcame some failure and there’s a good reason for this.  Nobody goes through life without facing some challenges.  So, if our favorite character can overcome a big obstacle and win in the end, this makes us feel like we can do it as well.

So, if you’re going to use storytelling in sales training, share the failures, and then the ultimate success of your hero or heroine.  It will both inspire those you are going to train and make the story that much more believable.

The story isn’t specific enough

Which of the following 2 statements draws you in more?

  1. Mike lost all of his money.
  2. Mike just earned a $10,000 bonus after meeting his sales quota.  He and some friends went to the racetrack and one horse, Real Slow, caught his eye.  And, though the odds of Real Slow winning were 60 to 1, he listened to his gut and bet all $10,000.  The race started and Real Slow was last until the final lap, but then pushed through to 1st with only a few yards left in the race.  In the last second, Real Slow collapsed and lost the race: Mike lost all of his money.

The second story is much more interesting because it has specifics.  And with the specifics, we get pulled into the story because we can imagine ourselves being there.  Without specific details it will be impossible to do so.

journalFor some people, getting the details out on paper is difficult.  I, for one, like to get right to the point when I’m writing something.  However, this aspect of storytelling can be developed and practiced.  And, one way to do this is to keep a nightly journal.

First, randomly pick some event from the day.  Then, see how many details that you can remember about the event and write them down.  So, for example, the “delicious lunch” you had can be fleshed out to include the tastes, smells, and feelings associated with that lunch.  And, you can then self-assess the process by reading your journal back every couple of days to see if you’ve actually included enough detail to make you feel like you were once again enjoying that juicy steak.

Not knowing your audience

people-1099795_1280The way that you tell a story, the tone of the story, the characters in the story: all of these should be thought about in terms of your particular audience.  When using storytelling in sales training, you may be training rookie employees or seasoned veterans.

And, depending on where the sales trainees are in their careers, a different story will have a greater impact.   For this reason, you need to have several different stories ready to illustrate the same point for it to ring true with your specific audience.

At first, you may not have a lot of different stories at your fingertips.  If this is the case, then you can just use stories from television, the movies, and books to illustrate your points.  However, as time goes on in your sales training career, you’ll begin to develop anecdotes from your own interactions with sales people.

Not actually telling a story

A corporate trainer who uses storytelling in sales training is different than a corporate trainer who is just giving a presentation.  If you tell your story in a monotone voice while you remain motionless in front of your training group, much of the story’s impact will be lost.  Instead, you need to feel the drama of the story as you speak it.

And though it can be painful at first, one way to practice telling a story is by sharing your story in front of a video camera.  If you video tape yourself, it will become super clear whether you look like you’re telling a story or whether you’re just reciting something back like a piece of dead wood.

Another way to improve upon the storytelling aspect is to tell the story to non-salespeople.  By sharing your story with people who have limited interest in what you have to say (no offense!), you can get some honest feedback on the storytelling piece of your presentation.


Using storytelling in sales training can be a powerful training tool.  And, like any other skill, it requires practice to become a good storyteller.  Hopefully, you’ll able to use some of the tips above to avoid some of the common mistakes that corporate trainers commit when they are trying to incorporate storytelling in their sales training presentations.

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