How Telling Stories Can Help Convince Customers

I love to tell stories. Why? Because stories are the key to persuading others.

In a selling environment, I call them “situational sales success stories.” Or S3 stories, for short. These are pre-created retellings of how you helped buyers or colleagues improve their condition in given situations. Here’s an example:

“What you’re saying is exactly what Steve Buyer said, not more than two months ago.
[Grab your listener right away with a relatable opener.]

“His company was struggling, its stock value had sunk, key managers ditched the organization, and all rational indicators told him not to make any big decisions. Then, his firm experienced a product recall. That’s when Steve and his colleagues decided to invest in their business, instead of cutting back.
[Include at least one element of surprise.]

“We put together a performance initiative designed to keep revenue flat but increase margins. Morale improved, the company attracted some talented new people, and now, although not completely back to business as usual, it’s well on its way — all because Steve and his team turned left when his competitors would have turned right.”
[Use a repeatable phrase for emphasis.]

The following are five must-have situational sales success stories to keep in your arsenal at all times, regardless of what you sell or who you’re trying to persuade. I’ll provide the bones; you flesh them out:

  1. A buyer who never used your company’s products or services is now one of your biggest fans.
  2. A client who faithfully used the “other brand” until you showed him the light.
  3. A customer who was loyal to only one method until you showed him another option.
  4. A buyer who couldn’t afford your best offer, but you helped his company figure out a way both of you could still do business together.
  5. A customer who initially wanted to delay purchasing until you proved why buying now was a wiser decision.

Now that you have some ideas for situational sales success stories, consider ways to refine them and make them more exciting. Take the above example and create one powerful, truth-based story for each of the five situations, and then write them down. Make them all capable of being told in less than 25 seconds. Require every salesperson on staff to learn the five stories and be able to recite them. Test employees and help them internalize high-quality S3 stories.

Remember, you can share these stories face-to-face in one-on-one situations, in larger group settings such as a business meeting, as videos, via e-mail, blogs and text messages, on social media (Twitter should challenge even the strongest tellers of S3 stories) and by using that old-fashioned device everybody once called a telephone.

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