Why stories matter — your 6-step plan to increase sales with the right tale
By Henry DeVries
A tough challenge for many in business is convincing enough prospects to hire them. To become more persuasive, it pays to know how we are hardwired for stories. If you want your prospect to think it over, give him lots of facts and figures. If you want him to decide to work with you, tell the right story.
Storytelling helps persuade on an emotional level. Maybe that's why so many brands are putting an emphasis on teaching their sales and business development professionals storytelling techniques that will move units and convince prospects to come aboard.
The "Simple Six-Step Heroic Storytelling Formula” will help you close the deal. But here's the catch – these stories must be true case studies told in a certain way. Here's how it works:
1. Start with the main character
Every story starts with the name of a character who wants something. This is your client. Make your main character likable – somebody you can root for. To make him likable, describe some of his good qualities or attributes – smart, tough, fair, hardworking, caring and passionate.
2. Have a nemesis
Stories need conflict to be interesting. What person, institution or condition stands in your character’s way? The villain might be a challenge in the business environment – imagine that your prospective client couldn't get what he needed from the villain.
3. Bring in a mentor character
Heroes need help on their journey. They need to work with a wise person. This is where you come in. Be the voice of wisdom and experience. The hero does not succeed alone; he succeeds because of the help you provided.
4. Know what story you're telling
We are programmed to relate to one of eight great meta-stories – monster, underdog, comedy, tragedy, mystery, quest, rebirth and escape. If the story is about overcoming a huge problem, that's a monster problem story. If the company was like a David that overcame an industry Goliath, that's an underdog story.
5. Have your hero succeed
Typically the main character must succeed, with one exception: the tragedy. The tragic story is told as a cautionary tale. Great for teaching lessons, but not great for attracting clients. Have your hero go from mess to success (it was a struggle, and he couldn’t have done it without you).
6. Give the listeners the moral of the story
Take a cue from Aesop, the man who gave us fables like The Tortoise and the Hare (the moral: Slow and steady wins the race). Don’t count on the listeners to get the message. The storyteller’s final job is to tell them what the story means.
The bottom line is that nothing is as persuasive as storytelling with a purpose. The right stories can work wonders whether you are using them in a one-to-one meeting, in a presentation that is one-to-several, or in a speech or publicity that is one-to-many. Start today to build an inventory of persuasive stories.
Henry DeVries, CEO of Indie Books International, works with consultants to attract high-paying clients by marketing with a book and speech. He also is the author of “Marketing with a Book” and “Persuade with a Story!” For more information, visitwww.indiebooksintl.com.