Story-driven influence has more impact. But it’s not always the best story that wins.
Facts Tell, Stories Sell…
...but not all stories.
Good Storytelling versus Good Story Selling
Last night we were having dinner with friends and the woman across from me was raving about her travel agent. She told story after story about how this agent helped them out and saved them a tremendous amount of time and money. Before dinner, hiring a travel agent was the last thing on my mind. After dinner, I already had the agent’s name, and my friend had sent a text introduction. I haven’t even met with the agent yet, but I already know I want to hire her for a service that 24 hours ago I didn’t even think I needed. I have no intentions of looking anywhere else for a travel agent. This woman will be my only call. That is the power of story.
Here’s what’s interesting. The woman had not crafted that story. She certainly could have told it in half the time. She didn’t build characters or add humor. And I didn’t end by standing up and giving her a standing ovation. But the story worked even though it wasn’t the best story I’ve heard. Why? Because the best story isn’t always the story that wins.
For years, I built a successful business based on being able to tell really good stories. I could create an experience that people wanted to buy. I sold a lot of books in the back of the room, got standing ovations consistently, and ran a solid business driven by word-of-mouth. The ability to tell a good story has always been my ticket to a solid successful business.
But I hit a wall. I couldn’t push through to that next level of income. I knew something had to change if something was going to change. I made a vital shift in my business that changed everything. I became more selective in the kinds of stories I was telling.
The point of telling stories in business is to remember the point of telling stories in business.
Entertainment Versus Persuasion
Entertaining and engaging an audience is not the same as convincing them to buy what you’re selling. Just because they stand up and clap, doesn’t mean they’ll buy your services. You must make the shift from Story Telling to Story Selling.
You see, here’s the deal. No matter what job we hold, there are times when we want or need to persuade someone else. Persuasion is emotional, which is why stories have more power to influence than data. But telling a good story isn’t enough. Telling the RIGHT story matters more.
At the end of the day, it’s often my least sexy stories that actually convince my buyer they need me. Why? Because a buyer is persuaded with the story that they can best relate to.
When you’re crafting your next presentation, pitch, brand message, or compelling business argument – don’t get too caught up in finding the best story. Focus on the story that is most relevant to your listener. Then work to make the story as compelling as you can.
The best story is the story
your buyer can relate to.