Ever have the superhero conversation? Of course you have. You know the one: “If I were a superhero, my superpower would be…” then you discuss the merits of each person’s perspective (the correct answer is of course voluntary invisibility, but let’s not get into it). But for super communicators, the super power is STORYTELLING. The best part? You don’t have to be born on Krypton to acquire it.

But first, why is storytelling a super power at all? It’s because of the way our brain works. Our minds (particularly our unconscious ones) are constantly looking for patterns in life. These patterns are to keep us safe (that guy punched himself in the face and it hurt, so I won’t punch myself in the face) and keep us accepted in our communities (no one talks to that weird cat lady, so I better watch how many cats I’m acquiring).
And most of all, we look for patterns to make more sense of the world, so as to make our lives more meaningful. This is also why we love reading books or watching movies – we can symbolically connect with another reality while relating to the character traits that take us there.

What does this have to do with selling?

True masters of communication know that when you are good at storytelling, you can connect deeply with the listener and create unconscious meaning for them, compelling them to take action. Example…

I was in a pitch last week and we were talking to a business owner who wanted us to come in and train his team in sales and coach him around his marketing strategy. When we got to the time to commit, he started pulling back saying that he’d like to think about it and get back to us. At this point my partner, with a great deal of poise replies,

“Absolutely. You know it’s funny, this reminds me of when we were working with [insert large international competitor in similar industry]. Even though we doubled revenue in the first quarter after working together, we were disappointed that literally a month before we started working together, three other competitors came into the market with a similar product. It’s so funny how timing really is everything, right?”

Guess what happened next? OF COURSE HE SIGNED UP! Had anything changed? No! Only the story he heard created an unconscious link between this other client we’d worked with and his own situation. This is also called IMPLICIT selling, allowing a customer come to their own (guided) conclusion that they NEED to be working with you – urgently.

Storytelling is a super power because it can be used for anything: building credibility, demonstrating social proof, seeding compliments (“just like you, he was really loved by his employees, so what he did was…”), handling objections etc.

There are four key elements to a great story (or anecdote or metaphor) for the purpose of creating action or pitching:

  1. Keep it concise – the shorter the better, as long as it gets the point across.
  2. Make it clear – there’s nothing worse than a story that the customer doesn’t understand, it makes them feel stupid and you caused that experience.
  3. Make it relevant – use characters and elements in the story that actually relate to the customer. If they are a 35-year-old woman wanting to lose weight after pregnancy, don’t make the story about how you helped a 16-year-old athlete prepare for his basketball try-outs.
  4. Make one point at a time – coming back to point #2, making super complex, multi-layered comparisons don’t work. Eg. “Have you ever missed a golden opportunity because you took too long to jump on it? Hmmm.”
  • **BONUS
  • Tell stories to ‘seed’ other things that will help the customer buy. Trust comes (in part) from your experience and capabilities. Next time a customer asks a question or poses an objection, try beginning your answer with, “that’s a great question! You know I remember when we were working with [insert a big brand you’ve worked with that’s relevant to your customer] and what they found was…”

What’s a good story you tell to iterate a point?

If you liked this post, let me know below.

Have an awesome weekend!!

Free Report on Handling Objections in 2016

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