Grow your business by selling with stories

Once upon a time I was a stockbroker and investment rep. I loved the analytical side of the biz and I loved connecting with people. But being an investment rep is a lot of stealing clients away from other reps, which is not cool. (Sadly the crappy parts of the job outweighed the good parts so I decided to do something that I enjoyed far more: Write for brokers, advisors, and investors).

During our training to become investment reps, one of the best techniques that my peers and I learned for connecting and selling was storytelling.

People love stories because stories educate while they entertain. Some stories are as simple as an analogy, other stories can be involved and should place the prospect or customer squarely at the center.

Of course, the investment world isn’t the only place we see stories, although it’s very effective there because the stockmarket can be a big field of question marks and clients need stories to help them understand. We also see stories in many other industries. Good, engaging commercials tell stories and classic copywriting (like the infamous “They laughed when I sat down at the piano…” magazine advertisement) tells stories, too.

Stories are appropriate throughout the sales process, from lead generation through presentation, closing the sale, and building client relationships. They should appear in your content but they should appear elsewhere, too, like in sales presentations.

17 SELLING WITH STORY IDEAS
In an article by ManageSmarter.com called “Winning Customers Through Story: A New Take” (no longer available online) Lori L. Silverman and Karen Dietz talk about the various stages of your sales funnel where stories are appropriate and how to implement them effectively. They give 17 bullet points at the bottom of the article to show business owners how to include stories throughout their business. Some of the tips include: “Translating and relaying market research data and findings through composite stories”, “Having the organization’s founding core values and folklore already crafted as hip-pocket stories, ready for sharing”, and “Co-creating a future story”. Brilliant! Check out this article and implement even a few of these 17 story recommendations.

EXAMPLE
When I was a stockbroker, I would sometimes need to educate clients on the buy-and-hold investing strategy. So I would use a story like this:

Imagine that you bought a house in a neighborhood and every house in the neighborhood had a big sign in front of it. The sign was a live ticker of the value of the home. Sometimes the prices rise when there are more buyers than houses or when someone paints their kitchen. And sometimes prices fall because there are more homes for sale than buyers or because the street is dirty or because one of the neighbors is noisy.

Does it matter to you what the price of your house is today? What about tomorrow? Or the day after?

Of course not. Because there are only two prices that really matter: The price you bought your house for and the price you sell it for. The fluctuations in between are completely irrelevant to you until you decide to sell.

It’s the same with stocks. When you buy a stock and hold it, the fluctuations that the stock faces from one day to the next are meaningless. Even economic downturns can be worrisome to investors but they don’t need to be.The problem is, while our homes don’t have a live ticker in front of them, the stock market does and people can be very sensitive to individual fluctuations even though it doesn’t affect their long-term view.”

STORIES EDUCATE, ENGAGE, AND SELL
Stories are compelling and a great way to connect with your clients and customers. Take the time to write your own stories and your audience will become riveted to what you have to say.

START HERE
If you’re not sure where to start, just list the top 3 objections you face during a sale. Then write a story (either an analogy, a true story, or a composite of client experiences) that addresses the objection and challenges the listener to rethink their position.

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