As it turns out, compelling storytellers often prove to be excellent sellers. Aside from being product experts, top salespeople craftily integrate well-placed narratives that create crystal clear images and elicits a strong emotional response from their prospects. In short, good stories sparks the imagination and evokes stong feelings, which in turn compels your prospect to act.
We're hardwired to love good stories. When someone tells you a story, your brain becomes activated in such a way that you're almost reliving the experience. So when your friend tells you about a sweet granny smith apple she had that morning, your sensory cortex lights up to make you feel like you’re eating the apple. When your brother gives you a play by play of a baseball game, your motor cortex is activated so that your brain mimics the players’ movements. Contrary to popular belief, you're not simply a passive listener. Your brain is actively creating your experience.
Storytelling is important during the selling process because it:
- Makes information easier to consume: stories can transform mere facts into imagery and emotion, allowing readers to better grasp the message.
- Makes information easy to remember: According to Jerome Bruner, readers remember stories 22x times better than fact sheets, sales kits or powerpoint presentations.
- Allows information to be easily shareable: Readers can easily retell the stories to their family, friends & colleagues. If they're so moved by the story, they can become brand ambassadors for your brand.
Stories could also...
Capture your audience’s attention: Stories have the power to make your message more appealing and interesting. Say someone comes up to you and start giving you a litany of benefits about a hair growing product. How would you react? What if someone approaches you for the same product but instead of simply giving out information, he tells you how his product has helped a 40-something guy regain the confidence at work and has made him more sociable? Who will catch your attention more?
Build trust and rapport: Telling stories humanizes your brand, It gives your reader a feeling of familiarity with the brand.
Be a Call to action: The most compelling stories moves listeners. Literally. In this case, the desired action is to purchase the product or avail of the services you offer.
Transform beliefs: Good stories have the power to change hearts and minds. They have the ability to show buyers how to get from where they are to where they want to be.
How to tell a great story?
We are all natural storytellers. After all, we think in narratives. The key is how to customize your story so that it is seamlessly integrated into the sales process.
1) Every story has a structure: First, every story has to have the hero. The hero must be a relatable character. He or she must be someone your prospects can see themselves in. Second, the hero must face a conflict. These are the challenges and obstacles a hero comes across during his or her journey. Then, the hero must reach the crossroad, where the hero makes his or her decision. Finally, we have the resolution where the hero eventually triumphs.
2) Ask questions and listen. You have to get to know your customers. Knowing their needs, wants, and problems allows you to share the most appropriate and effective tales. More importantly, knowing your audience allows you to frame a story where they can easily insert themselves in.
3) Tell your stories in detail. Be as specific as possible. The goal is to create a mental and emotional picture for your customers. The more vivid the picture, the more the story will stick.
Storytelling is a critical part of the sales process. It makes your message more powerful. It drives your customers to action. It lasts beyond the transactional aspect of selling, allowing you to further your relationship wirh your customer.