It's not the facts that persuade - it's a good story that puts the facts in context and guides listeners to making their own decision.Before customers are open to your insight or your product, they want to know who you are and if they can trust you. If you are new or recently connected to this person, you don't have the trust built over time, so they want to hear your story to simulate getting to know you over time. If you tell a good story, it earns enough trust tor them to want to hear your message.Facts just don't have that same trust building impact on customers. I like the quote from Luigi Pirandello quoted in The Story Factor by Annette Simmons."A fact is like a sack - It won't stand up if it's empty. To make it stand up you have to put in all the reasons and feelings that caused it in the first place."You can't just tell a story for the sake of telling one because it's the latest strategy in business. The story has to resonate and have meaning for the customer to be persuasive. People already have their own stories that they tell themselves about their previous experiences. Customers will put your facts into their story and its meaning and remain in the same state. You say, "What about my new facts aren't they strong and valid points?" But facts don't reach the customer on an emotional level, nor do they have the power to change the customer's internal story. Customers disregard facts that don't match their internal story.You have to wrap the facts in a new story in a way that will resonate with the customer and lead them to trust you and in turn trust your facts. If you truly want to influence your customer, you have to create a new story that lets your facts into the brain of the customer with words that embody as many of the senses as possible. Think of ways to incorporate sounds, smells or the feel into your story. If appropriate, you can include a description of the taste of something in your story. Create a rich and vibrant vision; it will invite the customer into your story and provide a greater opportunity for impact.
I've field-traveled with many sales people over the years. I've watched reps so passionate about their product or so eager to make a sale that they don't take the time to tell a story and build trust first. There are many sales processes that suggest establishing rapport with social conversation (sports, photo on the desk, or the morning news), providing a value proposition and then launching into finding the pain or providing the insight that leads to the next step in the process.However, taking time to tell a story that communicates who you are and why you are there first, will create an environment in which the customer is more open to your value proposition and insight rather than fitting it into their story as you speak. A good story reaches the feelings and emotions of the customer. This is critical to success as research shows decisions are based more on feelings than facts. The brain justifies the decisions with the facts it can locate to support the decision it has made.Keep a journal of your stories so you have multiple stories to choose from and select the best story to resonate with the targeted customer. Then take time to prepare and rehearse your presentation, ensuring you have made your key points in the story that will reveal who you are and why you are there. I like to practice out loud and record my presentation so I can see and hear what works and what doesn't work or flow. Practice with a family member, friend, or co-worker. Get their feedback to ensure it sounds like a really good story and your customer will be engaged. It is absolutely worth the effort. Stories have not only helped me connect to customers and enjoy a nice life, they have helped my students enjoy the same benefits.