There's a lot of storytelling going on in business today. Your marketing team tells stories; your sales and customer service team tells stories; the business development team tells stories, and….well, you get the picture.
When it comes to branding strategy, the story (or more accurately a series of stories) you’re telling is a useful tactic to reach your goals. But, they aren’t the goal. You aren’t sitting around the conference table thinking what stories can we tell in Q1 this year; instead you’re thinking ‘we want to increase brand recognition by 5% & sales by 10% in Q1….now what can we do to reach those goals?’
I love a good story, but it's not that simple. Many businesses think that the story must be about painful, past experiences in order to be impactful and cause customers to buy everything they’re selling in what amounts to out of pity.
I think that instead of focusing on negatives, your stories central theme should be around your vision of the future, what you believe, and the positive impact your product makes. That’s not to say that you won’t pepper in some of those struggle moments in there, but they are no longer the focus of what you’re trying to convey.
I believe storytelling should inspire people to buy, not hope they pity you enough to give you the sale. I’m not advocating for lying or being inauthentic. The stories you tell should be real & authentic, but your goal isn’t just to tell an epic tale, it’s to also sell your product or service!
Three important concepts to ingrain:
The story isn’t about you! The story is never about you. You are only cast as a supporting character in the story, your client is the star. When using storytelling for sales, you need to tell what the client was struggling with, how their progress is going, and how you’ve helped them get where they are today.
Keep it short! Most people won’t read most of what you wrote. Some people won’t even listen to what you say if you’re telling the stories. And what they do read or pick up on in conversation are the nuggets of information that directly apply to their needs at that moment.
Be relevant! With any good story you not only need to know why you’re telling it, but you need to know how it relates to the person you’re speaking with. Think before you speak. If it’s not relevant to them, it may in fact may set you back further than you went you began your story because the buyer feels like you don’t quite get them after all.
If you want your story to sell, you need to do some very specific things as you’re telling it.
Don’t bury the lead: sell the experience & transformation first; as it relates to something the customer has told you! Start your story with an engaging, attention-grabbing opener, then tell your story. Include the buyers in in the story so they can see themselves using your services to solve a particular pain point.
Here’s a tip: tell a story in about 5 sentences, and one of those is an open-ended question to drive the sales conversation.
Brevity also works on your website and marketing materials. Keep your written stories to one or two, short paragraphs and always include a call-to-action to drive the specific goal you’re trying to achieve.
Written and spoken stories are a great tactic to use when tailoring the experience for your customers. Your stories must relate to their struggle and effort so they care about what you’re telling them. Your short story conveys the transformation they can have & how easy your product can make it for them. Building rapport, generating emotion, and painting an inspiring view of the future will motivate prospects. And your stories will start selling!