Over the last years there is a substantial amount of content shared about the power of storytelling. To be very short about it (probably too short), five benefits of packaging your presentation in a core story format are:
  • Stories help to cope with change:
    In today’s life, change is inevitable. A story can remind people that change doesn’t need to be a bad thing.
  • Stories help to simplify complex topics and make sure the presentation resonates:
    No listener cares as much about the data as the presenter does. To help listeners to resonate the data in your presentation, package it into a story to explain what these numbers mean and why that is important.
  • Stories persuade:
    Stories are more meaningful than stating sheer facts. When an opportunity to persuade a potential customer comes along, the information used should be highly meaningful. Hence, a story can be a great persuasion tool.
  • A shared core story is a common language:
    When stories are used in sales presentations and the sales staff is properly trained to deliver the core story, it becomes a common language in which an organisation spreads its key messages. This leads to a consistent positioning towards external stakeholders.
  • It builds relationships:
    Stories are perceived as much more authentic than common sales presentations. Customers will not connect with a business that doesn’t have an authentic, human voice.


Key in delivering a proper (pre)sales presentation is stating the problem the potential customer has and proposing the solution your company can provide (the Value Proposition). While creating a clear, compelling and unique Value Proposition is an exercise that can optimise and accelerate the go-to-market of your business, a great Value Proposition alone is not always enough.
Not everyone is open to receive your Value Proposition just yet, since up to 90% of most markets are either not thinking about the problem you stated, or are (thinking their) not interested in your solution. This is why a clear and compelling Value Proposition alone is not always enough to reach the largest part of your potential customers…..you need a core story with a title that engages the other 90%!
To build this core story, a clear understanding of your value proposition, the environment and key market trends, is necessary. The sequential steps in creating a core story around your value proposition are:
  1. Capture your Value Proposition in a workshop
    A Value Proposition Design (VPD) Workshop can help you to understand the value your products and services provide to your customers and which customers jobs, pains and gains it addresses. In this workshop the Value Proposition Canvas is used to capture suggestions and ideas. When organising this workshop, preferably work with multidisciplinary teams to generate a broad and deep understanding of the value the company captures. It can be a good idea to ask for facilitation of this workshop by an experienced professional.
  2. Describe multiple solutions to the problem/job the customer has
    To address the largest part of the market, you can’t just solely propose one solution to their job/problem. A customer always is looking at multiple solutions and therefore we need to present a carefully chosen set of the possibilities to potential buyers. Furthermore, it is critical to help the listener in setting up buying criteria. A good example of this is a couple of slides in which the question ‘What to look for in a provider of solution X’ is being answered.
  3. Describe and agitate the most severe customer pains (from your VPD workshop) with third-party market data
    In presenting a core story it is good practice to bring up external sources of truth. Industry analysts, thought leaders, market researchers, leading companies and knowledge institutions all have readily available market data that you can use to back up the story you are telling. Since market data is always more powerful than product data, this will strengthen your case. Since Daniel Kahneman won a Noble prize for his ‘prospect theory’ we know that customer pains are highly motivational. One of the major findings in this study was that people (in most cases) are more motivated by avoiding a loss, than by moving towards a gain. This insight is crucial in building your core story.
  4. Come up with a compelling title that engages a large part of the potential market
    In this title there should be the promise of a solution to a problem a lot of people have, and even if they are not currently considering to adopt a solution, it might be interesting to them to read or learn more about it. An example of a title of a core story presented by a real estate agency could be: The five most common pitfalls in buying your first home and how to avoid them.
When creating your core story in a presentation, the above mentioned steps need to be put in an anti-chronological sequence. A good way in building a compelling core story around your value proposition will then be:
  1. Identify and describe the most severe customer pain(s)
  2. Agitate this pain with compelling third-party market data
  3. Tell the customer it doesn’t have to be this way
  4. Describe multiple solutions to their problem and what to look for in a provider
  5. Finally (and nowhere before this point in the presentation) you talk about your company and present the value proposition

This story can be used in multiple ways, e.g. as a lead generator (free download opt in), but also as a source to draw from when creating meaningful (marketing) content. Educate customers by sharing meaningful stories instead of hard selling them with irrelevant messages creates more enjoyable business encounters and a positive atmosphere around businesses in general.

At Mark Global we use a 360° Go-to-Market to turn our client’s innovations into business and opportunities into profits. The core story is part of the Go-to-Market Messaging.
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