Using Analogies, Quotes & Stories for High Impact Sales Leadership Communications

All great leaders communicate with maximum impact and regularly get their people (either physically or virtually) to give them direction, keep them informed, inspire them, motivate them and engage them to commit to achieving success at both the individual and team level.

Competent sales people typically have fast minds. They like a mental challenge, they enjoy new ways of looking at the world and they are activists. They are also extroverts, they want to be entertained, they want to be successful and they want recognition for their success.

All of these attributes mean that being successful at leading a sales force can be a real challenge and requires an ability to use every communication to inspire and motivate their people to step up to the challenge, at both the individual and team level. This means that great sales leaders need to be great communicators. They need to ensure that all of their communications are ‘high impact’.

A critical element of any leader’s tool-kit is the keynote speech (or briefing) at the beginning or end of every event, review, team meeting and briefing session.

A lot of research shows that the best leadership speeches and communications use metaphors, often in the form of analogies, stories and/or quotes to inspire and engage the receivers. However, it also seems true that the importance of ‘high impact’ leadership communications and, in particular, the use of metaphors in speeches and briefings is much higher when they are communicated to a sales force compared to when they are communicated to other organisational departments.

Linguistic cognitive experts emphasise that metaphors accelerate the acceptance of new, abrstract, complicated or potentially dry concepts by aligning these concepts towards more simple, but subconsciously emotive, concepts that the brain can immediately relate to. This might take the form of a famous quote, an entertaining story, a pattern (e.g. a three-step process) or an entirely different concept that is still either very simple or widely accepted at a fundamental level (e.g. journeys, battles or life itself). The famous “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” quote (by Neil Armstrong) played on such principles.

So, if you want to engage the sales force (as well as having a vision) and remain an authentic and flexible leader, you should work on bringing your communications to life by making them more punchy. Make them involve the audience and use a healthy sprinkling of metaphors, quotes and stories along the way.

You might notice that some of the best entertainers engage with the audience early on. They often turn this engagement into a story or a simple observation and then, once the audience reacts positively, they keep unexpectedly referring back to it as an entertaining theme throughout the session.

Sales people like to be actively engaged. They like to be entertained and they like their fast thinking brains to be challenged. Metaphors, quotes, analogies and stories will help you to succeed as a ‘high impact’ sales leader.

Some good examples of sales leadership quotes

“I am a great believer of luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

Samuel Goldwyn

This is a great quote to use to emphasise the fact that hard work, rather than luck, is what makes a sales person successful.

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

George S. Patton

Although this is relevant to many walks of life, this is particularly relevant to sales leaders who, as activists and experienced sales professionals in their own right, often tell people what to do because they (like their people) have fast minds and feel that they always need to have the answer.

“Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful.”

Zig Ziglar

This quote is highly relevant to a sales or sales leadership role. It is effective because it brings two opposites together in prose and turns perceptions directly on their head – similarly to J. F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” This use of inverted parallelism, or chiasmus, is highly effective at making a larger point.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

Zig Ziglar

Coaching quotes using analogies

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”

John F. Kennedy

I myself commonly use this quote to refer to the importance of building customer and internal relationships before there’s a bid on the table or a problem to resolve.

“You were born to win, but to be a winner you must plan to win, prepare to win and expect to win.”

Zig Ziglar

“Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle.”

Elmer Wheeler

Although this originates from the ‘Feature Advantage Benefit‘ days of selling, this makes the valid point that the proposition should sell the experience rather than the basic product.

“No sales person ever listened themselves out a job.”


This emphasises that sales people should sell consultatively rather than trying to impress their clients with information or by pushing products (i.e. “sell, don’t tell”).

“You were born with two ears and one mouth for a reason.”


Similarly to the above quote, this also emphasises the point that successful sales people should sell and not tell.

Written by: Steve Eungblut, Managing Director at Sterling Chase




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