Think back to the last time you were truly moved by a story you heard. Maybe it was a heartwarming tale that tugged on your emotions. It could have been a story about overcoming impossible adversity. Maybe it was even a tragic tale of loss and redemption. Whatever the case may be, stories have a unique power to evoke emotion and connect us with others.
Most ideas are presented using data. While data has the potential to persuade people, stories have the power to move people.
Storytelling isn’t just limited to books and movies. It is a powerful and underutilized tool that can help you achieve your business goals. Whether you're trying to motivate your team, connect with prospects and customers, or win the close, try tapping into the power of storytelling.
Why Are Stories So Effective?
Stories stick with us long after we've heard them. They’re one of the oldest and most universal forms of communication. Stories have been used throughout history to teach lessons, share values, and create bonds. They have the power to break down barriers and build trust. And let’s not forget – stories have the power to drive people to action. When we hear a compelling story, we're more likely to be motivated to take action than if we simply hear a list of data, facts, and figures.
Consider almost any non-profit organization. Instead of simply listing statistics about the need for donations and listing what the donations will help fund, they tell stories about the people they've helped. Oftentimes, they share photos and videos of individuals and communities whose lives have been transformed.
Can you hear the Sarah McLachlan song in your head while you’re reading this? By telling stories, these organizations are able to connect with donors on an emotional level and motivate them to take action.
When ideas are presented to people, the message is too often constructed to let people KNOW things. Instead, the goal should be constructing a message to get people to DO things. In order to move people to DO things, there has to be an emotional investment in the idea.
When Should You Use the Power of Storytelling?
The potential uses for storytelling are endless. Stories can be used in all aspects of your business, but here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Incorporate storytelling into sales training and onboarding. Illustrate how your product or service has positively impacted customers. Introduce case studies and testimonials that showcase the difference your business is making. Sharing real-life success stories helps new team members understand your product’s value and learn how to convey it effectively.
- Equip your sellers with tools and resources to enhance their storytelling skills. Unleash the potential of your sales team by providing them with storytelling tools and resources. Right here is a great place to start! This blog will walk you through the steps to take to craft a compelling story. Consider mastering the steps outlined in the forthcoming sections and taking the time to teach them to your sales team.
- Use storytelling as a relationship-building tool to establish trust and rapport. Personalized stories that are tailored to specific interests, challenges, and goals can help demonstrate a deeper understanding of a team member’s, prospect’s, or client’s unique situation. Storytelling can be used to express empathy and create a strong, lasting connection.
- Leverage storytelling to overcome sales objections. Identify common objections that arise during the sales process and work with your team to craft stories that directly address and reframe these objections. Consider sharing stories that highlight concrete results or benefits experienced by clients who initially had objections.
So, How Do You Craft a Compelling Story?
Just like any strategic plan you develop, it’s important to have a specific end-goal in mind. When you sit down to craft your story, begin by asking yourself these questions:
- Who is my audience?
- What do I want my audience to feel?
- What do I want my audience to know?
- What do I want my audience to do? For example, do you want a prospect to agree upon an assignment or commit to a deadline?
Once you’ve identified your goal, use it as the basis for what you’re going to say and how you’re going to present it. For a story to be effective, you need to be sure you articulate your message in a simple, focused, and relatable way.
5 Pieces to Every Compelling Story
Start with a Hook
Your story should start with a hook that grabs the listener's attention. This could be a surprising fact, a vivid description, or a provocative question.
For example, did you know that people forget more than 40% of the information you tell them by the very next day and 90% of the information you tell them after a week has passed?
Follow a Structure
A good story should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. The beginning should set the scene and introduce the characters, the middle should build tension and conflict, and the end should provide a meaningful resolution.
Use Sensory Details and Authenticity
To make your story come alive, use sensory details to describe the setting, characters, and events. Describe specific sights, sounds, or smells. This will help your listener visualize the story and feel like they're a part of it. You can also connect on a personal level by expressing vulnerability, joy, determination, or empathy.
Dialogue can bring your story to life and make it more engaging. Use direct quotes from others to add depth to your story. It will help you show personalities, emotions, and motivations. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable in your dialogue.
End with a Call to Action
Finally, your story should end with a clear and compelling call to action. Remember the question you asked yourself in the beginning: what do you want your listener to do after hearing your story?
Bring your story full circle by linking it to your purpose and your message.
We all have a story to tell. Your story has the power to create change, motivate others, and generate revenue for your business.
Here is your personal call to action: embrace your inner storyteller. Your compelling narrative will inspire continuous improvement and incite action. Why wait?