Listen up – it’s story time! – Steve Clarke

by | Apr 15, 2015 | Business, Features

Steve Clarke on converting prospects into customers through stories they can relate to

There is nothing more natural than listening to or delivering a compelling story. A story that is intriguing and one that creates excitement, particularly one that stirs up the emotions.

Why is that important to you?
The vast majority of buying decisions are driven by emotion. That’s certainly true in landscape design and build, whether you’re involved in the delivery of products or services.

From a very early age most of us have been exposed to stories by our parents, grandparents, teachers, etc. We’d sit on the edge of our seats hanging on every word.

As adults, when we talk to friends and family we naturally share stories. When you tell people about an interesting situation that arose during your day or while on holiday, it’s not very likely you’d just detail the events in a dull monotone fashion, is it? I expect not.

One of the secrets of top sales people the world over is effective storytelling. I don’t mean in the ‘never let the truth get in the way of a good story’ sense. I mean compelling, anecdotal, real life experiences with other customers and clients that can be shared with your prospects. I’m talking about engaging stories full of emotional attachment that spell out the benefits to the listener.

Here’s a format that will help you. Try using, ‘feel, felt, found‘. It’s fairly safe to assume that most people are more interested in themselves and their problems than hearing about how wonderful your products and services are. The thing that will fully engage people and allow them to freely discuss their problems in more detail in order for you to help them is hearing that you know how they ‘feel‘.

They want to hear that other people you’ve helped ‘felt‘ just like they do.

Then you can explain through your story what those other people ‘found‘ that helped them solve whatever the problem was. So instead of bashing away at all the features of your latest product, gadget or gizmo, tell people about clients just like them who have solved problems similar to theirs. This is how you will capture their interest.

Stories should focus on the drama, the emotion, the pain and the difficulties before you helped. While emotion will drive a buying decision, pain is very often the catalyst to motivate change. People are motivated to move away from pain towards pleasure.

Pain is a bigger driver than pleasure alone. So start your story with a painful situation then lead people to your solution. Stir up people’s emotions before reassuring them that others felt just the same and then leading them to the ‘found’ and the happy ending.

Don’t waste too much time saying what you actually did.

You’ll know they are interested because guess what, they’ll ask you!

Make some notes of all the key benefits of your products or services. Now think back to various situations where your product or service positively impacted another person or company. Spend some time building emotions and feelings into these situations until you have compelling stories.

When you’re with your friends you naturally trade stories, we all do. Selling is no different, be yourself. To sell more, sell less if that makes any sense.

In my experience, when using stories in general conversation, it is better to have your stories natural and unrehearsed rather than highly polished. Every feature has a benefit and every benefit has a story.

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An exceptional sales mentor and sought after motivational business speaker who built his last UK business to £30m in annual sales in just eight years, sold out and retired at 45. Now he helps businesses around the world generate more leads, more sales and more profits.