Story telling is one of the most underutilized persuasive techniques in our culture. This isn’t just for sales people, it’s for anyone who has to face rejection; the novelist searching for a publisher, the marketer building a brand, the entrepreneur looking for venture capital, the student raising money for the soccer team or the parents trying to get their kid to eat vegetables. Story telling has been proven to activate 7 regions of the brain, whereas logic and facts only activate 2.
Recent studies have proven why story telling is so powerful and the 5 components to what makes a story powerful versus entertaining.
Unknowingly, “salespeople” all over the world are setting themselves up for self-sabotage and throwing benefits and features at prospects and left scratching their heads when they hear an objection such as, “price is too high.”
This can be reduced by adding in the art of a story.
Scientists estimate that language began roughly around 100,000 years ago.
Since the days the cavemen (not a technical term) came out of their dwelling and noticed the sunset setting on the horizon, they needed a way to communicate what was happening in their world. Does the sunset symbol danger? Do the migration patterns of animals signal food and abundance for the village? How did the lessons from the elders in the village get passed on to the children?
It started with a story.
They found that the primitive humans who were best able to tell stories lived longer, had their choice of mate, created more offspring, and over time, their brain size increased and that lineage consistently was more successful than others in the tribe.
So what does that have to do with how to sell a product in today’s culture?
Apparently, a lot.
Most sales people believe that when they face an objection they need to fire off with a benefit or feature that the client isn’t aware of.
When they face price concerns, they believe they need to lower cost.
When the client seems uninterested and they are out of rapport, most think if they speak in a higher pitch and seem overly friendly it will win the client back over.
All of these are ridiculously and embarrassingly false.
A good story can release neurotransmitters and hormones in a prospect’s brain, overcoming all of the above scenarios, as proven by David JP Phillips in his TedX Talk:
Dopamine being released in the brain causes an increase focus, motivation & energy.
You can add stories that release dopamine by creating cliff hangers and building suspense.
Oxytocin being released in the brain causes generosity, trust, and bonding. When falling out of rapport, oxytocin releasing stories can help. These are created by sharing vulnerability and empathy.
Endorphins being released in the brain has been proven to help become more creative, relaxed, and focused. This is usually done by laughter. A quick laugh during the rapport process, triggers the brain to “feel good” and this in itself can increase rapport, keep a client in the direction you want them to go, and build trust.
In other blogs, I will go into details of the components of a story and how to masterfully craft one during sales calls.
For now though try this simple experiment.
Think of a celebrity or public figure you deeply admire.
Go to youtube and select just one of their videos at random.
And watch it with the intent to pick up on the stories they tell to illustrate their main points.
We tend to do this instinctually. Most of us aren’t even aware that we use stories to sell each other. Yet, there’s a myth that when used in sales, it will come off as fluff and a waste of time.
Creating high levels of trust, motivation, energy, and generosity between yourself and a client is never a waste of time. And you’ll notice that a couple of short, well crafted stories added into a pitch will help you close more deals, increase the price per sale of the item, and increase the percentage of deals you close.
In one case study of a company I helped, closing percentage increased by 71% through these exact methods coupled with proactive strategic questioning.
Imagine what it can do for you or your business?
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