Sell me a story

by Richard White on February 1, 2013 · 0 comments

RecitalOne of the things you will find amongst top networkers and top sales people is the use of client stories to communicate the value of what they do. You not need to be a budding JK Rowling or a witty raconteur to tell the type of stories that get results. Just talk about your day to day experiences in helping your clients. Here are three of the most important aspects of client stories that communicate value, build trust, and generate those all-important sales opportunities:

Your stories should be about people

When people typically talk about their clients they talk about the organisation unless they sell directly to the general public. And they also normally talk about what they did for the organisation. People relate to people and not organisations. To tell a good story you need to make it about a person, and ideally about the kind of person who makes an ideal client.

You do not need to mention the name of that person. Their job title is quite sufficient. So, instead of saying “We were recently working with XYZ Bank and they….”

You would say “We were recently working for the Finance Director of XYZ Bank and she….”

Telling stories about people will help your connections relate to the people in your stories and, when done well, they make you more relatable too.

Your stories should have drama

The thing that makes a story really compelling is the drama. On TV the soap operas always seeks what is known as the “cliff hanger”. It’s a metaphor for the emotional drama. Someone is hanging off the edge of cliff gripping on with his bare hands and we do not know whether he is going to be able to claw his way back up the cliff, be rescued, or whether he will get to the point where he no longer has the strength to hang on. Good drama in books is what gets people to keep reading. People sometimes refer to a good book as a “page turner”.

Wherever there is emotion there is drama. The stronger the emotion the more compelling the drama becomes. People feel emotions. Inanimate objects do not. In the movie Herbie the car is given human characteristics and so was able to be the centre of the drama. Companies, products, and services are concepts. If we want a story with drama we need to focus on specific people within the company or specific customers of products and services.

They say that people buy based on emotion and its absolutely true! Look out for the drama your clients are experiencing before you and your business come to the rescue. Make sure your client stories have lots of drama and not only will people relate to them but they will remember them, and you, too.

Your stories need a happy ending

Most of the stories I hear are all about the fantastic work networkers have done for their clients. They bang on about what they did and how great their services are. Consequently their stories sound like they are mini sales pitches. Instead you should just focus on the results you got. When people hear your story of the person experiencing drama they then want to hear a happy ending. That is your way of talking about the results you delivered.

These stories do not need to be long. If you follow these three elements you should be able to tell an effective story that gets results in around 40 minutes which makes them ideal for your BNI breakfast group meetings.

Richard White
Richard White is a sales coach and trainer. He specialises in helping IT consultants win more sales through effective networking. Richard is the author of ‘The Accidental Salesman Networking Survival Guide’ and is a highly sought after speaker on the subjects of networking and soft selling.

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