Episode 319: Charles McFarland

Applying Theater to Sales Storytelling
Charles McFarland


Charles McFarland

Charles McFarland is an award-winning theatre producer and director (of over 60 shows) who has combined his arts executive and business coaching experience into his Theatre of Commerce platform, to build leadership and business development skills through the power of storytelling in three dimensions.  He is a Certified StoryBrand Guide.

Our Mission Is To Change The Negative Perception Of Sales People

Our Vision Is A World Where Selling Is A Profession To Be Proud Of

Charles McFarland has a background in theater and has produced and directed over 60 shows. He points out that if you want to pitch to Pixar, it starts with the hero’s journey. You share the hero’s challenges, goals, desires, and obstacles, and get to the inciting incident. How do you as the guide or coach come to the rescue and lead to an outcome, i.e. their “happily ever after?” You have to remove tension from the sales relationship and move to an emotional plane. The best way to do that is through storytelling. Charles shares his process in this episode of Sales Reinvented!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:55] Why storytelling is an important skill to possess
  • [1:40] Can the craft of storytelling be learned?
  • [2:41] The key to a great story that sells
  • [4:36] The attributes of a good storyteller
  • [6:10] Resources to improve storytelling
  • [7:06] Top storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [10:37] Use StoryBrand to transform your sales pitches

The key to a great story that sells

What is key to great storytelling? Three simple things:

  • You need a hero that everyone can identify with
  • You need a desire for improvement
  • You must demonstrate pain points

If your “audience” likes act I of the story, the payoff will be greater in act V when you get the resolution. You need a strong backstory, a dramatic incident that says, “I can’t bear this any longer.” It must change the landscape and provide a need for the solution—your product or service. It needs a beginning, middle, and end with an emphasis on character.

What does that look like?

  • You need an exposition: Who is the story about? What is their situation? What do they want?
  • Something must happen to drive the story; there must be urgency. You must barrel your listener toward what would be a bad outcome.
  • Someone or something must come to the rescue and guide the hero through the obstacles to the desired destination

Storytelling dos and don’ts

Charles shares some great storytelling techniques he’s learned:

  • Be the guide, not the hero. If the story is all about you, there’s no room for the audience to see themselves in the story. People want to hear a story about themselves.
  • Make the story urgent and build dramatic tension. People must experience the lows before the highs to move the buyer to the emotional buying plane.
  • Find stories that have a “wow” factor. Make sure the result is a transformation, not just an improvement. Get a customer to the point where they’re delighted and amazed.
  • Don’t use the first person. Create a character and share it from their perspective. Offer several points where the listener can identify with that person.
  • Don’t forget to “place” the story with your audience. You’re making a point, some sort of conclusion is being reached. You can tell when the audience is on the same page to move the story forward. If you don’t wait for that moment, you’ll leave your audience behind.

How to use StoryBrand to transform your sales pitches

A year ago, Charles McFarland was coaching a brand campaign agency. They did terrific work but their pitches were boring. So Charles told them to identify what makes their audience look good and what would help solve their problem. He had them implement StoryBrand style storytelling.

What does success look like? What is getting in the way? How can you offer a solution and position yourself as a guide? 

They were set to meet a brand manager to have a “get to know you” conversation. They went in with their new StoryBrand pitch. The next day he called to offer them the contract.

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by | Oct 12, 2022 | Sales Reinvented Podcast

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