When I was just out of college, I was lucky enough to have a mentor.
He was a successful businessman. He had a lot of energy and a million things going on at any given moment.
We'd meet a couple times a month to talk about different things. I enjoyed our meetings because he did a good job of sharing with me some of the business and life lessons he had learned over the years.
One day we met for lunch at the Lincoln Del. This was a popular place for business lunches. They had great food and servers with plenty of personality. While we were waiting for our food my mentor said "pull out a pen and some paper right now!" He was like that, very direct and all about action. "Write these three things down," he said.
The three things he had me write down were his "success rules".
- Always have a goal.
- Never be afraid to fail.
- Show up every day.
Now, 20 years later I still remember these "success rules". Even more important, I understand them better and I use them better than I did when I first wrote them down. Over the years, I've seen them in action so I know from experience that they work. Any success I have I can attribute partly to my friend and mentor sharing these ideas with me.
I just told you a story.
Instead of telling you a story, I could have just said, "these are three success rules that work."
But I don't think that would have been as effective in communicating the message. By telling you a story about something from my life, I got your attention and (hopefully) held it to the end of the story. Because I made it personal and real, it has more impact.
If you are involved in selling then keep reading because I am going to give you a secret weapon to help you connect with more people and make more sales.
I've had the opportunity to listen to some very talented professional speakers. And, I've had the experience of watching some not-so-skilled speakers.
The best speakers start with a story and they end with a story. They use personal experiences to connect with their audience and to deliver their message. They tell stories throughout their presentation. They do it well and it works.
The other speakers give us facts, figures, charts, slide shows, etc. They often put us to sleep because they never connect with us. They never really reach us.
What is true for speakers is also true for salespeople (or anyone who needs to communicate with others).
If you want to deliver a message or develop a relationship with someone, you need to connect with them. An easy way to connect with them is to tell stories.
Too many salespeople spend too much time talking about their company, their product or service and all the wonderful features they offer. They go on and on about why we should buy from them. They bombard us with facts, figures and opinions that mean a lot to them but are mostly unimportant to us.
When you do this, your prospect tunes out. The last thing they want to hear is you talk about your company or product or service. They know you'll tell them how great it is so what you have to say is really not very interesting to them. And, the more facts and figures you throw at them, the less relevant those facts will be because they're not interested in all that information.
On the other hand, if you tell your prospect a story, they will listen. They will listen because your story will be:
As listeners, we expect stories to be entertaining. As business people, we need them to be relevant. As human beings, we want them to be personal.
Told right, a story is not a sales pitch.
A story is an entertaining way to deliver an important message. It's an effective way to help you connect with someone.
Seth Godin wrote a book about using the power of stories to promote your business (All Marketers Are Liars).
So, if you want to start selling more, find ways to tell people stories. Make them relevant. Make them personal. Make them entertaining. Most importantly, make them a regular part of your communication with prospects.