November 15, 2021

You have eight seconds. Differentiate your business through the art of storytelling.

By Lori Stutsman

A man showing his fellow coworker his computer screen


Today’s consumers are seemingly always in a hurry, with little time or patience for sales pitches. You may have a great story to tell, but you’ll need that extra something to grab your audience’s attention right away and keep them engaged so they want to hear your whole story.

Eight seconds.

Studies show that’s how long you have to capture someone’s attention.1 What can you do in those eight seconds to grab, and keep, their interest?

If you demonstrate that you can identify and understand you customers’ challenges, then offer a tangible solution, they’re more likely to listen. Those first eight seconds are only the beginning of good storytelling.

Lori Stutsman is the President and Customer Success Manager at Extra Mile Marketing (EMM), a leading technology marketing partner for enterprise tech companies and their partners. The marketing geeks at EMM excel at communicating each brand’s unique value to its target audience, making their story stand out in a crowded marketplace.


Watch the November US SMB Insider Call to hear Lori’s presentation on The Art of Storytelling.

And keep reading to learn more about why storytelling is so important in today’s competitive business world.


Question: How does good storytelling influence sales? Can you provide quantitative results?
Answer: Stories are more memorable than facts and figures. According to Forbes, businesses should invest in developing a clearly communicated story for a couple of reasons: First, stories create a blueprint to organize content that would otherwise feel scattered and random … Secondly, a brand story helps simplify the complexities of a vision and conveys a business’s purpose to the outside world.1

 A business may genuinely have a better product or service than its competitors, but at the end of the day, decision-making is much more emotional than it is logical. The ability to tell a good story is essential and can make or break how well a business differentiates itself in the market as well as makes a profit.1

 Question: What makes a good story?
First off, you need to find the BAM! B: Be ready to adapt your story to what keeps your customer up at night; A: Always relate to your customers’ needs; M: Make it quick.

Question: Any other tips?
1. Keep the message simple: No more than three points; 2. Get right to it: Remember, you have eight seconds to get their attention; and 3. Change it up: Stories can be anecdotes, case studies, examples, or visions.

Also, there’s a difference between rhetoric versus storytelling. Don’t rely too heavily on facts, figures, or graphs. Keep it conversational, authentic, and passionate.

Question: How important is a business’s messaging strategy to telling their story?
A good story can be, and should be, reflected on your website, your LinkedIn profile, sales materials, videos, trade show booths, social marketing, thought leadership pieces, and more. The story is essential to your brand, and it should be as pervasive as your brand.

 Question: How can technology partners use or incite emotions to increase sales?
Good stories connect emotionally with your clients and prospects. Our brains are naturally wired to remember how a combination of events made us feel—which is why a great story evokes emotion that the prospect will remember. Create stories that evoke business emotions like frustration, surprise, joy, amazement, empowerment.

Question: How did the idea for The Art of Storytelling workshop come about?
Answer: I was asked to teach a class for new salespeople about how to approach potential clients. I have always found that the salespeople who are the most effective are the ones who don’t try to make the traditional sales pitch, but instead paint a picture of what their solution will do for the customer. Working with a business partner who has his doctorate in Organizational Design, we created a course in storytelling.

Question: Who is your primary audience? Is the workshop exclusive to Microsoft partners?
Answer: This particular workshop is exclusive to Microsoft partners. The primary audience is anyone who needs to be involved in sales. This is not just the traditional sales role—it includes executive team members, sales, marketing, engineering, operations, and others.

Question: What is the primary message you want partners to walk away with?
A good story is worth more than 10 pieces of collateral. Take the time to work on your messaging. Think about who you want to reach, what issues they may be facing, how you can solve for those issues, and what makes you unique. Paint a picture of what they will be able to accomplish with your help and, finally, what emotion you want your customer to feel after hearing your story.

 Question: What do you recommend as next steps?
Answer: Try writing your own story. Stories can be fast features, blog articles, podcasts, videos, and even just a simple elevator pitch. You can start by checking out some of our stories.

If you need help, Extra Mile Marketing has a number of master storytellers whom you can hire to tell your story, or ask about our one-day storytelling workshop. You can reach Jesse, our Director of Content & Storytelling, at:

1”Why Every Business Needs Powerful Storytelling to Grow,” Forbes, December 19, 2017

2”Busting the attention span myth,” BBC News, March 2017

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