Your customers and clients love a good story, whether it is about how you overcame a marketing or product development challenge or how a business relationship that started poorly turned out great and now the client is a loyal and vocal advocate for you and your firm. The classic movie plot where good overcomes evil – Darth Vader comes back from the dark side – provides an amusing and entertaining break from our daily routines and challenges but does nothing to move us forward in life. Conversely, stories we watch on TED Talks are about change champions and leaders that are making a difference. They inspire and motivate us because of the challenge they faced and through discipline, innovation and self-discipline overcome the odds and are now sharing their insights with the world.
I have been encouraging those in sales and BD to include stories in their sales presentations; when overcoming objections; and to inspire clients to follow their suggestions or implement their recommendations. When done well, stories cause deeper connection, encourage mutual sharing of experiences and make the sales person appear more real and credible.
Recently, I came across a frame work for designing a powerful story based on Freytag’s Pyramid . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dramatic_structure. Freytag states that the plot of a story must consist of the following five parts: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution (Denouement).
This model has been used as far back as Shakespeare to engage and connect with the audience. If it worked for him – we’re still talking about him and reading his material – why not try it for your next presentation.
The most successful stories move beyond connecting with the head or logic and impact and touch the heart and our emotions. Companies spend millions of dollars to create a 30 second ad that will reach us and move us to support their brand and buy their products.
Here’s a great example of a Super Bowl ad that does just that.
For your next sales presentation or interview, create a story that moves beyond focusing solely on quantitative results, statistics and measurable outcomes. The “facts” may make for a solid case and logically support your position, which is important, but they do nothing to engage your audience or client at a deep personal level. Storytelling is powerful and inspiring; furthermore, it makes you more real and approachable.