You’ve had multiple meetings with multiple contacts in the same organization but you simply can’t get the sale over the finish line. Why? Perhaps, your approach is too tactical. It could be time to tell the right story.
Storytelling helps persuade on an emotional level. In the B2B world, a story can actually be a case study—with emotion. Maybe that is why so many Fortune 500 companies are putting an emphasis on teaching their sales and business development professionals storytelling techniques that will move units and convince prospects to come aboard.
In part one of our two-part storytelling series, Promotional Consultant Today shares these key elements of telling a story or a case study. Business author and professional speaker Henry DeVries refers to this as “The Simple Six-Step Heroic Storytelling Formula.”
1. Start with a main character. Every story starts with the name of a character who wants something. This is your client. Make your main characters likable so the listeners will root for them. To make them likable, describe some of their good qualities or attributes. Generally, three attributes work best: “Marie was smart, tough and fair” or “Johan was hardworking, caring and passionate.” For privacy reasons, you do not need to use their real names. (“This is a true story, but the names have been changed to protect confidentiality.”)
2. Have a nemesis character. Stories need conflict to be interesting. What person, institution, or condition stands in the character’s way? The villain in the story might be a challenge in the business environment, such as the recession of 2008 or higher tax rates. (The government is always a classic nemesis character.)
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; they succeed because of the help you provided.
4. Know what story you are telling. Human brains are programmed to relate to one of eight great meta-stories. These are: monster, underdog, comedy, tragedy, mystery, quest, rebirth and escape. If the story is about overcoming a huge problem, that is a monster problem story. If the company was like a David that overcame an industry Goliath, that is an underdog story.
5. Have the hero succeed. Typically, the main character needs to succeed with one exception: tragedy. The tragic story is told as a cautionary tale. It’s great for teaching lessons, but not great for attracting clients. Have the hero go from mess to success. (It was a struggle, and they 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.
Ready to put these storytelling skills to the test? Read PCT tomorrow to learn how to put your stories into action.
Source: Henry DeVries, CEO of Indie Books International, works with consultants to attract high-paying clients by marketing with a book and speech. As a professional speaker, he teaches sales and business development professionals how to build an inventory of persuasive stories. He is the author of Marketing with a Book and Persuade with a Story.