Tell stories, damn it!

Cry baby, cry

While connecting and bonding with your customer, you find out he is a thinker (PCM) and communicating from his ADULT ego state, which is most likely predominant for this profile.
How has anything you say, to be wrapped, in order to be understood? – As he is receptive for data and pure transactional content, may be it was wise to communicate mainly from an ADULT ego state with some nurturing parent (NP) in the back up, meaning in a neutral factual polite and rather technical way, supporting and nurturing him.
If this was your guess you are on the right track – the person is receptive to the way you talk to him – but what do you say?

Of course you can just serve him data on a silver plate; as a THINKER he will love to receive a maximum of data, but will it stick?

Partly, if your brain hears “data” the following areas of it are activated:

Wernicke’s area: Language comprehension
Broca’s area: Language comprehension

Now, why is it so important to tell stories when you sell? – Simply because you sell easier and the reason for this is how our brains work, no matter how your predominant way of thinking works – no matter how your ego-state is – the better facts are wrapped in to a story that matters, to you – the better you will retain the content.

If your brain hears a relevant story the following areas are activated on top to the previous ones:

Visual Cortex: colors and shapes
Olfactory Cortex: scents
Auditory Cortex: sounds
Motor Cortex: movement
Sensory Cortex and Cerebellum: Language Comprehension

In science-speech: A story activates parts in a brain allowing the listener to turn stories into their own ideas and experiences thanks to a process called neural coupling. Listeners will not only show a similar activity pattern in their brains but also a similar pattern to the speakers brain. The brain will release dopamin into the system, when experiencing emotions in order to not only easier remember but also with higher accuracy. As a result a story told can be 22 times more memorable than if only facts are shared.

It is though not only important to tell a striking story, but also to tell it long enough otherwise you fall into the same trap that causes you not to remember a good joke – it simply is too short.

When you tell a story the prospect will not only “get” the facts, but more importantly is able to visualise how your product or service influences him in his personal and daily life.

In other words:

  • First you have to capture the attention of a prospect
  • Then you establish a relationship in connecting via trust and rapport (see NLP/Process Communication Model/ Transactional analysis)
  • Having connected you will be able to find out how his personality processes information and how he thinks – this is crucial, because it sets the way you will have to tell your story in order to be heard
  • Now the prospect needs to take action and handle the product as much as possible (or try it on, or try out a service etc.)
  • In creating context around mere data, numbers and features you have to pass information wrapped into relevant, compelling and interesting anecdotes, quotes, stories, …
  • Finally you are able to really touch his soul and are able to transform beliefs and to change a behaviour

You can wrap everything anytime into a story. Nourish your stories from your personal experience, the brands stories, other customer’s experiences, product stories, anecdotes, myths and so on… – in this stage the best sales people I ever met are extraordinarily strong, as they are able to use the dry knowledge transmitted to them by the brand, to use their concrete experience with customers, their general knowledge and are able to transform this “data” in to a relevant story to the person they talk to, again with the hhelp of TA, PCM and NLP

So in non scientific speech:

If you want to invoice, you have to touch the customers heart or nothing will happen – the more unuseful your product, the more expensive your product, the more luxurious your product, the more you need to do that.
And as mentionned you need to be able to tell the stories in a way the person you talk to can handle it – a DIRECTOR-type will react differently than a PROMOTER-type to the same story told in the same way.

Ideally you are have a set of stories you created, lived through, like, … at hand and are able to adapt them to the person you talk to and in order to create a story you need structure and practice, unless you are a genius:

e.g. “Please let me tell you about the history of our brand shortly, as I realised people really like the twists we took as a brand during especially the beginnings of it and also even though I work for this brand since years it always fascinates me…. “The story” … and this xyz is the reason why I told you the story, as I feel/you told me/I think you care about xyz a lot.”

1.) Be aware that you will need to structure your story into an opener (what you are going to tell), the story itself (the facts )and a rationale behind it (why is this relevant to you).

2.) Determine the main idea you want to talk about and practice to tell it under various angles to keep the story alive.

3.) Get their attention in only telling the story where you are sure they want to hear it – avoid too big complexity especially when talking in a foreign language

  1. Practice your story in several variations – practice with your colleagues to ensure that there is no technical mistake, then practice with your colleagues to ensure it is striking and than practice with customers in order to test it. There will never be the one story that fits everyone.
  2. As you want to deepen the relationship with your customer, you want to make it as personal as possible.

At the end of the day there is only one way to succeed:

  • Invent a story
  • Tell it to yourself
  • Share it with your colleagues
  • Work on it with your colleagues
  • Tell it to your friends
  • Tell it to your colleagues and finetune it
  • Share it with a customer and find out if it works
  • Finetune
  • Repeat from above

It’s may be hard for the first one, but it will become easier and easier along the way …

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