Stories and how to be a legend at selling

Applying Simon Sinek's work around the 'Golden Circles'

A client's story

I am enjoying doing quite a bit of coaching work with a number of corporate clients.

One client, in the professional services sector, has done a fabulous job of applying Simon Sinek's work around the 'Golden Circles'. Watch Simon Sinek's TED Talk if you haven't done so already.

Simon Sinek's 'Golden Circles' is a simple concept, but one with real power behind it:

Start with the why before the how and leave the what until last

Simon Sinek's concept around the Golden Circles

Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek's concept around the 'Golden Circles'

Leadership and management author, speaker and consultant

Our own 'Golden Circles'

We spent a little time on our own 'Golden Circles' and this is what we got:

Which is why you now see:

Hugh Gyton & Associates Entertain | Educate | Empower our clients to have real conversations so they Connect More | Deliver More | Engage More | Earn More

Hugh Gyton & Associates' email signature

Their 'why' is fantastic as it gets to the heart of what Simon Sinek is all about - inspirational leadership.

I was first exposed to this when I was working with their team down in Melbourne. Their leader shared their 'Golden Circles' with the group and explained how the global executive leadership team had themselves spent a day working on creating it. He shared the power of the 'why' with the team and how it has the capacity to inspire their clients, their team, and themselves as individuals.

Just watching the story develop in the room, you could feel the power it had on the individuals and on the team as a whole. What was fascinating was a little later on in the day a client came into the session to share his experience of working with them, what he liked and the challenges he had had. By the end of his session we had all experienced the power of the 'why' through how he shared their combined story.

It was fantastic. They were clearly spot on with their 'why'.

The client's 'why'

Enough already. So, what is their 'why'? As a professional services firm, they are in the business of creating legendary growth stories for their clients.

The client's 'why'

We are all about creating legendary growth stories for our clients

Why am I sharing this story?

On one level, to agree with the power of the 'Golden Circles' is great for small business and major corporate alike. On another level, it cements the importance and power of telling a well-crafted story in your business development activity.

People buy people first and they buy emotionally, not logically. Stories are the way to engage with people emotionally and build fantastic relationships.

How do you tell a story?

So how do you tell a story so that it will engender interest from your potential buyer?

For the purposes of this article I am assuming a broad definition of 'buyer'.

  • A 'buyer' could be a buyer of your product / service.
  • A 'buyer' could be a team member you are trying to influence.
  • A 'buyer' could even be your child / spouse.
The components that make a well-crafted story

It is widely documented that there are five major components that make for a well-crafted story:

  • Characters / individuals
  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Conflict
  • Resolution

Central to every good story are the Characters involved. We need to know enough about them to be able to 'see' them - to have a sense of who they are.

Then we need to share the Setting for the story. Where are things happening, what sort of environment are we in. Once again, given how visual most of us are, it is good to do this at a level such that the audience can see it, almost touch it.

Supporting the characters and the xetting is the Plot - the actual story we are sharing with its beginning, middle, and end. Told in such a way that the listener can follow along from start to finish.

Every story then needs a Conflict to solve, a business issue, a challenge for the family, a problem that could do with being fixed.

Finally we need the happy ending, the Resolution. How have things got better as a result of the action.

Leave your brilliance in your briefcase

Like so many aspects of becoming excellent in leadership and sales conversations, telling a well-crafted story seems straight forward enough, but not necessarily that easy to do.

From my experience of coaching clients during my Selling is Just a Conversation™ training is that when crafting stories, and particularly when delivering them, we can get too verbose. We load the story with information that we perceive makes us look clever and capable, but it doesn't necessarily help the listener emotionally engage and understand why we might be a great choice for them.

The likely retort you will experience from me at this time is leave your brilliance in your briefcase, less sometimes is so much more.

Critical questions to ask yourself when reviewing your story

So building on the structure, there are three critical questions to ask yourself when reviewing your story for public consumption. These then need to be answered very succinctly:

  • What was the problem you fixed?
  • What did you do to fix it?
  • What have been the benefits for them?

Putting it another way:

The situation was bad, they wanted better, we helped them achieve it by providing


As is so often the case in selling and leadership, it is not about having the best product / service or being the best at what you do. It is about being perceived as such.

Stories, told well and with enthusiasm, go a long way towards making that more likely.

As for my client, they are building on their legendary growth stories by learning how to craft them so that they can all share them to inspire the market place, to inspire their colleagues within other parts of the business, and to inspire themselves - to continue delivering on their why.

But that's another story ...


Excellent analysis and exposition on the art of storytelling. We can all use this - well done Hugh

Ian Benjamin

03-Nov-2016 11:33 AM

Thanks Ian. You are not wrong, the older, and hopefully wiser, I get the more I appreciate how important story telling is. My clients continually confirm that it is the stories I share that brings things alive, makes it relevant, helps ideas 'stick' in the Conversationomics™ consulting work I do.

Hugh Gyton

Hugh Gyton

03-Nov-2016 06:11 PM

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