Data Storytelling

When Data and Stories Collide: Leveraging Human Connectivity to Close

Sales professionals throughout history have leveraged their power to persuade as the determinant in the close of just about every deal. I mean, unless a product or service is legitimately one of a kind, the difference between one company and another who are offering some variation of, or maybe even the exact same version of a thing–  is human connection. And while the idea of persuasion as a business tool isn’t exactly new, the skills necessary to get a “yes” in modern business, are.

 

We’ve researched the value of data storytelling beyond the trend. And in this series, we’ll get into why stories matter, how they effectuate real influence in any industry– and give you some insight around what this social evolution in business culture means for your organization!

 

It’s important to know that decision-makers are no longer expecting to be “sold”.

What they’re expecting, is a meaningful experience.

 

As traditional pitching evolves to include more personal connections and meaningful interactions, it’s becoming clear that human connectivity is becoming the key to close–  and organizations & their teams may no longer rely upon friendly data regurgitation and statistic citation as a successful strategy.

 

While data and statistics will never not be important (in fact, they’ll be plenty of them in this series!), what’s developing is a more comprehensive, more thoughtful approach to communicating customer problems and solutions which combines the data and stats, with a story. Data Storytelling is a way to create a relatable narrative that customers can feel— and according to thousands of team decisions recorded in the Cloverpop business decision database— the difference between a successful close and a polite dismissal, is often based on the emotions experienced by business decision-making teams.

 

It’s deeper than you think…

As humans, we are hardwired to organize our thoughts through stories. Walking someone through from beginning to end in order to lead them to an understanding or outcome, is a skill that dates back to cave drawing. Stories, as compared with facts, figures, and data– draw on more areas of our brain’s processing capability.

For example:

 

  • They trigger our language processing areas while simultaneously activating other parts of our brain.
  • Stories are mnemonic, helping us to remember by linking concepts and information together in a way that is ‘logical’.
  • Stories are emotional, they trigger associations to other memories.
  • When they are relatable, stories allow us to picture ourselves in that situation. They also link back around to something we should do, feel or become, creating a call to action.
  • Stories give imagination, by engaging our imagination, we become participants in the narrative. We can step outside of ourselves, see differently, and increase our empathy for others. We tap into the creativity that is the foundation of innovation, self-discovery, and change.

 

Perception, association, and a little case study history.

In 1944, 34 Massachusetts college students were shown a short film. What they were viewing, was two triangles and a circle moving across the screen. They were then asked to describe the scene. All but one subject described the movements with elaborate, human narratives, including:

  • The two triangles were men fighting as a woman (the circle) tried to escape
  • The circle was “worried”
  • The circle and the little triangle were “innocent young things.”
  • The big triangle felt “rage and frustration.”

 

This study demonstrates the human tendency to personify abstract shapes and seek ourselves in the objects around us. This phenomenon is known as pareidolia, or “the imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist.” It’s what happens when you see a face in an electric outlet, or when you see shapes in the clouds. We have the innate ability, and tendency, to create self associations through stories. But why?!

 

It’s Biological.

Recent scientific studies inform us that storytelling changes our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. How? Oxytocin. That’s the feel-good chemical that promotes connection and empathy in our brains. This chemical is produced when we are trusted or shown kindness and motivates cooperation with others. Empathy allows us to understand how others are likely to react to a situation– thus enabling us to understand and anticipate the needs of team members and clients alike.

Data Storytelling conveys information in a way that connects with the listener emotionally, making them more likely to remember the info– and you.

 

Stay tuned for part 2 of  “When Data and Stories Collide: Leveraging Human Connectivity to Close”. We’ll share our model for creating strategic, successful data stories! And for more information about how Core is transforming sales teams for the future– go to

Sources:
https://insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu/article/the-power-of-persuasive-storytelling

https://buffer.com/resources/science-of-storytelling-why-telling-a-story-is-the-most-powerful-way-to-activate-our-brains

https://hbr.org/2014/10/why-your-brain-loves-good-storytelling

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/11/the-psychological-comforts-of-storytelling/381964/

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/psychology-of-stories-storytelling-formula

 

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/eriklarson/2017/03/21/how-common-emotions-affect-team-decision-making-and-what-to-do-about-it/amp/

 

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