Since we were children we have been socialized to love stories. If you think about it, for thousands of years, humans have loved stories.
Why is that?
Stories put us in a different state. We move out of our analytical brain and into a place of child-like wonder, even in the middle of a busy work day. Some of our favourite forms of entertainment are based on story: books, movies, plays, most music videos, colour commentary in sports. Stories are woven into the fabric of our lives.
Why use stories when we sell?
Stories engage. If you’re at a meeting – either one-on-one or presenting to a group, if energy or attention flags, you can share a story to bring them back.
Stories create a bond. A well-told story always has an emotional component to it. It’s a very quick way to connect with your audience on a gut or heart level. It brings you closer.
Stories build credibility. When you share a success story about the change your services have made in someone’s life, you are creating proof of concept. Instead of trying to convince someone of your value by earnestly insisting on it, you can share a relevant story in as little as two minutes to get the point across more powerfully.
Stories are memorable. What are your favourite movies? In the seconds it took for you to read that, a few movie titles have probably popped into your head. Those stories made an indelible mark in your psyche. That is the power of story. Even without all the visuals that go along with movie magic, a great story will make both you and the point you’re making, memorable.
6 Tips to keep in mind when leveraging stories
Keep them short. Your audience has a short attention span and if you go on and on, you’ll lose them. Aim for 1 – 3 minute stories.
Know the point you’re making! Avoid telling stories merely in an attempt to entertain. When using stories to help you sell, be clear ahead of time what conclusion you want your audience to come to. Make sure that point is well-illustrated. Make it obvious and clear. This isn’t the time to make them guess and hope they get it.
Target stories to the audience. A story you would tell to an end user may not be effective to motivate a wholesaler, or HR Manager or CFO. When you know your audience, their point of view and their challenges, you can tell your story in a way that hits the bulls-eye.
Be bold. It’s tempting to only share success stories. They make us look good. But consider including a few failure stories in your collection as well. As long as they are positioned as lessons learned, failure stories have the power to touch peoples’ hearts, inspire, and create a bond of trust.
Personal is universal. Tell a story about one or two people. Or one team. The main characters in your story should be real people, with real names in a real-life situation. Speaking in generalities makes no lasting impression whatsoever.
Dial up the emotion. Use descriptive and emotion words as a gateway to help people feel, not just think. That’s when the magic happens.
Top salespeople are always looking for ways to refine their skills and make a bigger impact. Becoming an effective story-teller is one of the highest value tools you can add to your toolbox.