The marketer with that great story to tell is going to be the one who succeeds in business. Just imagine if his competition has no stories—his clients won’t be inspired into buying their products or services. A great storyteller can even inspire or change the world through their creativity.
By using the power of storytelling, it will provide that emotional connection you need with your clients. When you have that connection, your clients will trust you, and that will naturally translate into sales.
You’ll be able to understand just how important it is to make that emotional connection through the story of a recent video that’s been making the rounds on the net. In this video, a senior homeless man is sitting in the street, largely ignored. No one is putting coins in his hat. Then along walks a man carrying a guitar case. He drops money in the hat, then sits down beside the man and takes out his guitar.
Soon he’s playing his music, while people gather to watch. Some even drop money in the hat. Some other musicians pass by, and they too decide to join the group. The homeless man is taken aback but remains. By the time the musicians are done and have gathered up their belongings, and left, the homeless guy’s hat is full of money.
You can see with this story how the musicians were able to add that emotional touch to the story. You could even say, they were providing a service of value. But, that homeless guy was not doing well just sitting there doing anything.
Just why do we need a good story to tell? Well, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the marketplace is overwhelmed with products. In less than a minute, millions of people around the world will have sent email messages. Google will be checked at least two million times. Tons of content will have been delivered to social media. But is anyone listening?
Each of us is flooded with information every minute of the day. Did you know that back in the year 2000, a person’s attention span was about twelve seconds? Well, today it’s even worse. Now it’s fallen down to eight seconds! Even a cat or dog can have a longer attention span than that!
And in this time you’ve taken to read this blog, millions of messages, photographs, and videos have been shared on social media. We’re all being inundated with sensory overload. Most of what we receive is blocked out. We consider it background noise that’s irrelevant and is a blur as it zips past us.
For the marketer who is selling products, the very fact that their products are great, even the best in the marketplace, can be irrelevant. This means that for salespeople, it’s essential that they reach their audience. They have to create messages that are not only heard but are understood, and even remembered. It’s through this message that will create an emotional connection with your customer or client.
So, how do we do this? It sounds like a huge task ahead. Basically, the solution is to do it through storytelling. Storytelling has been done since humans were able to talk. It was what transferred information between tribes and even down through the generations. And it can also motivate salespeople to gain insights into customers and provide solutions for clients’ problems.
Storytelling in business requires 5 steps to enable you to craft your story to the audience.
The Story Structure
The story structure of the story will involve five steps that you’ll use for your effective storytelling in business.
- The Setting
- A Complication
- The Turning point
- A Resolution
- The Why
When you’re telling a story related to business to your client, it will still have that similar structure that other stories have. It will be a journey and have a plot that has struggles and tension. There will be turning points, maybe even some blind spots, and then finally, there will be a final resolution.
While the story is being told, you’ll be making it engaging so your client continues listening.
In the real world, you know that stories don’t always have happy outcomes. But in business, even if your story has sadness or conflict along the way, it should still have an inspiring conclusion.
While there are many other ways of building a story, we find that these five steps will provide the most effective means to gain that end result from your client: A solid yes!
You’ll see that these 5 steps comprise an arc, just like a story arc. If you can hold this image in your head as you tell your story, it will help you to remember the points you are trying to make. Being able to visualize the steps in your mind will cue you for remembering the complications and turning points of the story, so you don’t have to refer to cue cards while you’re chatting with your client.
Remember that the stories you tell should come naturally from the heart. There is only one chance to entertain your client.
Here are the 5 steps to help you get started on your own business storytelling.
1. The Setting.
This is the point where you introduce the characters in your story. These are the ones who may have been your past customers or clients. They may even be the heroes of your story—perhaps they were instrumental in helping other people, or they found solutions to common problems.
The setting is where the journey begins for your characters. At the start of your story, you’ll do the setup. You’ll create interest for your audience.
Your story should also be a great narrative that is in chronological order, making it easy for your client to follow. As your characters go through the different plot lines, you’ll be providing an opportunity for your listener to experience emotions.
2. A Complication.
The next step is the complication. Who doesn’t have complications in their lives? Your characters, or clients, will be facing some challenges. They may experience struggle and tension. It may be something they’ve had to deal with for years, or perhaps it’s something new to them. But no matter what it is, they may be resistant to changing their ways.
These old ways could also lend some vulnerability to keeping things the same.
This part of the storytelling will also provide emotion. They’ll make your clients feel how your protagonists feel. Your clients may not necessarily remember the entire plotline or sales spiel you’re giving them, but they’ll certainly remember the emotions and feelings that they felt as you were telling them.
It’s even been proven by science that people who read or listen to stories have certain chemicals released in their brains. These can be cortisol, oxytocin, or dopamine. These are chemicals that can make us focus. Now your client will concentrate and focus on the message within your story.
You remember that old saying, people won’t remember what you told them, but they’ll remember how you made them feel? That’s rather like the basis for building up a solid, positive relationship with another person.
3. The Turning Point.
Just like with any story arc, there will be that turning point in the story. For your client, this may be the a-ha moment. They’ll suddenly be presented with a buying vision.
As you’re telling your story, remember to stick to authenticity. You don’t want your client to think you are telling the next superhero script. It should be something that fits with their life. You should tell your story with a passion, and it should also display your character too.
As you build up the story and present a turning point, one that the customer can readily identify with, your client who is stuck in their old ways has a new insight into things. They are now willing to accept the new way.
And you’ve created this a-ha moment for your client by creating a connection with them.
4. A Resolution.
The resolution is the end of the deal. You’ve provided a solution to your story. Your client’s problems have now been addressed from within your own storytelling.
The ending not only addresses the problem, but it also tells you how it ends, with the outcome or results.
The resolution of your story will also involve a hero. This may be a person who has been introduced in step 1 of the journey, or later on. This hero should be a person that your client can identify with. Perhaps the hero and your client are experiencing the same challenges with health?
While a hero is awesome, you don’t want them to be so beyond your client that they can’t identify with them. So, perhaps superheroes need not apply. Identify your hero with your client. The hero should be realistic and authentic. Your client should empathize with them and be able to celebrate the victories within their story.
5. The Why.
The why will be a part of the moral or message of the story. It may also encompass a belief. Why should also always include an emotional conclusion? The why may also fit as the first step in your storytelling, but you may wish to keep it within your mind, as you don’t want to give away the conclusion to your client before you’ve told them the story!
Then why should it also be a message that you can leave with your client? It will be a part of why should they care? Perhaps you’re selling them a product that you’re trying to make them care about. Perhaps in the past, you sold a product to a client, who then experienced a great turnaround in their health. Your story needs to contain a higher message. It should also give a mission to a person so that they can identify with it and follow it.
How to Use Storytelling for Your Own Business
By now you should have gained an understanding of how you’re going to incorporate the products you sell into the plotline of your storytelling. Remember your number one goal—to make money! You want to influence your client to change by changing their thoughts, their behaviors and their point of view. Together, this will empower them to act.
How to Write Your Own Story for Business
Right now you may be thinking, but I’m not a writer! How do I craft an interesting story that can make my clients act, but that won’t bore them to tears or make them think I’m making it up?
Consider these 2 points.
1. Who is your target market?
Are they homeowners, or are they young people just starting out? What can you do to influence them to buy what you’re selling? The young person won’t relate to a story about a family with six kids, but they can relate to the struggle to finish university and find that first great job. The person with six kids can relate to how they never have any time, yet they want their family to be healthy.
2. What type of story do you want to tell?
There are many different ways to tell your story. If you’re trying to sell a product, you can tell it from the third-person view of one of your clients. But if you’re selling the company to a prospective party, you may wish to tell the founder’s story. The founder’s story can explain their idea about the business, the vision, and the cause. Of course, you’ll work on the challenges that they have faced too.
If you can learn how to incorporate entertaining yet inspirational storytelling into your own business communication, you’ll have a more unique way of directing messages to interested parties. Remember that stories can help to encourage change, and also open conversations with your potential clients. They can also attract new talent for partnerships, and help teams to learn how to interact effectively, helping individuals to also learn how to lead.
I hope this helps you out and if this blog post resonated with you, please share and also leave your feedback in the comments section!