When it comes to selling, storytelling is an invaluable tool to help you influence your customers on an emotional and commercial level to say “yes”. Since the creation of language, stories have been at the root of our ability to communicate and understand what is going on in the world around us. Stories capture our attention and engage us in a way that facts and figures never do. And with research showing that we are 63% more likely to remember a story than we are a fact it’s not surprising that Rudyard Kipling remarked, “if history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”
The secret to creating an engaging and compelling selling story that helps you stand out from the competition is to make sure you tell your customer what’s in it for them. To truly inspire your customer you need to communicate why they should say “yes” to your proposal by showing them how you can help them meet their particular needs. With this in mind, here are five storytelling techniques to help you build a connection with your customer so you can win their hearts and minds.
- Use analogies – a great example of this is when Steve Jobs remarked, “a computer is the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds” or when Nelson Mandela described South Africa as the “Rainbow Nation”. This use of soundbytes helps you connect with others on an emotional level, enabling you to stand out from the crowd.
- Ask a rhetorical question – such as “So why should you buy my product?” This figure of speech is a useful device to help prompt your customer to think. It also enables you to introduce and communicate important messages.
- Use reiteration – repetition is an effective way to land a key point. Winston Churchill showed the power of this when he famously said, ‘We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields, and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender’. So, take the time to prepare your key messages ahead of time and don’t be afraid to repeat them in order to emphasise their importance.
- Paint a picture – use visuals to bring your story to life, but remember this shouldn’t replace key data or insight. For example, you could include images of people enjoying your product or service in relevant settings to help engage your customer.
- Refer to third parties – making a comparison to a third party is an effective way to introduce a different perspective and establish credibility. This could be naming any awards you have won or mentioning specific successes.
Finally, it’s important to remember that learning how to sell an engaging story that resonates with your customer can be easier said than done. Just like developing any new skill, it takes hard work and commitment to master the art of storytelling. So, try rehearsing your story with a colleague or trusted friend ahead of your meeting and ask for their feedback. Practice really does make perfect. And by weaving these techniques into your daily life, you will soon reap the rewards of improved performance, for as Steve Jobs famously said, “The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of a whole generation to come.”