When it comes to sales, I am no expert —nor am I even a novice. But I am in awe of people who make a living convincing strangers to buy services or products. Curious about what truly defines a good sales pitch, I recently polled Salesforce readers on our blog. They overwhelmingly agreed that the very best sales presentations are always rooted in a good story.

Which brings me to my next point: It takes a lot more art than science to nail a sales presentation. But if you need a compelling story to make a sales pitch effective, then what’s the formula for telling a good story? Here area few thoughts to help you close your next sale with a great story:  

Be genuine

That probably seems obvious as you read it, but when you’re standing in front of a group of soon-to-be customers (hopefully!), your natural ability to remain natural can get diluted by data overload or just uncontrollable nerves. So here’s a friendly reminder: Be yourself. Make every sales pitch your own — rely on your personality and honest quirks to help shape your story.  

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Draw from your own experiences

What better way to tell a good story than with another good story? Having a sales pitch that’s laced with your own personal and professional vignettes (whether funny, sad, or embarrassing) will add that much-appreciated human element to your presentation. Editor’s Note: In my experience, a little self-deprecation goes a long way.    

Find the tension/conflict and use it

Everyone loves (other people’s) drama. Consider conflict a key ingredient in your dish. Remember, the point of your sales pitch is to offer a solution to a problem. Use that to your advantage. Focus on the conflicts, challenges, and corresponding problem-solving aspects of whatever you’re selling.

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Stimulate with entertaining visuals

Just as science is backed with strong data, a compelling narrative is backed with fun-to-look-at visuals. That doesn’t mean you need a degree in design. It means you need to show your audience something memorable, humorous, or otherwise delightful. Awkward childhood photos are always a crowdpleaser.

Give them a good kicker

It’s never enough to just be informative, funny, and dramatic. You need to wrap up all of that with a strong takeaway, something that will leave everyone feeling nourished and perfectly full — and ready to sign on the dotted line.

So when you're walking into your next sales meeting, remember this: there's a reason why some of the best stories become best sellers. 

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