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Five Misunderstandings about Storytelling for Selling

You’ve heard, by now, the importance of telling stories to persuade buyers and from quick connections with them. Unfortunately, many sellers have missed out on reaping the benefits of storytelling by misunderstanding what the stories they tell should be about and/or how to tell an effective story.

Here are the five biggest misunderstandings I’ve observed when it comes to selling with storytelling.

  1.  It isn’t your story that needs to be told. Think of yourself as the hero, not as the main character. The main character is either the buyer you are talking to or one that is so similar that the buyer can readily identify with him or her. As the hero, you will enter into the story only briefly as the conduit for change. Think of all those childhood stories you read – the hero doesn’t really save the princess so much as he coaxes out her full potential. That’s your role in the story.
  2. Stories start with Once Upon a Time and end with Happily Ever After. You can’t tell an incomplete story and expect your buyers to fill in the blanks. Be careful not to start in the middle and not to end there either. Sales stories need to include the background information about the main character and the problem he or she is experiencing. The story needs to include a before-and-after narrative with clear transitions and a positive change. Then, building up to the close, the story should paint that picture of a happy ending.
  3. To captivate others, your storytelling needs to be descriptive. Not flowery, but authentic and vivid so it brings to life the change you are prescribing. Don’t really on adjectives so much as action verbs so what you are describing are actions that the main character, your buyer, will take in order to reach that state of Happily Ever After.
  4. The measure of a good story isn’t its length. In fact, more people will readily listen to a short story than to a novel. Padding your story with extraneous details and verbose descriptions isn’t necessary. Just stick to the most compelling aspects and include enough of them to tell the whole story.
  5. You can’t tell the same story over and over again without losing oomph. Your stories should be fresh and relevant every time. Canned stories bore people and make you seem unoriginal. You may have a general framework for a story you retell, but don’t over-script it and take all the spontaneity and personalization out of it. By making the story unique to every buyer, the story will become a glue that connects you to this buyer. Good stories are like shared experiences.

Review the stories you’ve been telling. Strip out as much as possible that starts with “I” and “My” or any other self-focused emphasis. Weave yourself into the buyer’s story instead of trying to make the buyer an add-on to your story. At the same time, be sure you are sharing enough of yourself to illustrate that you will be an integral part of living Happily Ever After.

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