Stories are the single most powerful way to communicate, which makes them an indispensable tool in your sales process.
Put simply, if you want to sell more effectively, then you need to cultivate the skill of crafting compelling stories.
Don’t worry if you’re not the “creative” type…
In this post I’m going to share a three-part formula, which can easily turn even everyday observations into riveting sales messages.
But first, let’s discuss why we care about stories to begin with.
Stories are in our DNA
Now, somewhat obviously, stories are entertaining.
This is why we’re hardwired to pay attention to them.
An that’s also why we happily watch movies, television, and plays, and read books.
In fact, Hollywood producer Eric Edson, in his book, The Story Solution, shares an eye-opening fact…
He says that the reason people go to movies is to FEEL emotion.
And well-told stories evoke strong emotions in people.
That’s why people cry at movies even though they know they’re watching actors; it’s part of our DNA to feel connected in this way.
We get emotionally invested in stories.
Think about this…
When you go see a movie with an interesting opening, you become curious about what happens next, so you pay attention to the story and kind of forget the world around you, right?
Hollywood knows this, so that’s how they judge whether a movie is good or bad…
- Was there an emotional impact?
- Were the people moved?
And that’s how Hollywood makes billions of dollars: evoking feelings and emotions through stories.
Our “lens” on life
The second reason is that as human beings, we interpret everything that happens to us through stories.
We make meaning of our world in story format.
In other words, we tell stories to ourselves about things that happen around us, and we translate those things into our own perceptions using stories.
We do it on a subconscious level.
We don’t think about it; it’s just how we’re wired.
You can actually use stories to transform people’s lives.
That’s why hypnotherapists and hypnotists use stories to change people’s behaviors and help them get out of addictions and overcome phobias.
Stories move people emotionally.
And they mentally place the listener or observer into the shoes of whoever the story is about.
When you go see a movie, you can’t help but identify with the characters.
So even though you’re not in the story, you still subconsciously place yourself in their shoes and feel the same emotions they do.
It’s very, very powerful; that’s why stories work so well in selling in order to be good at network marketing.
Your two choices when it comes to selling…
Choice #1: You can present people with dry facts, and all the logical reasons why something works and they should get involved, or…
Choice #2: You can tell them a story.
And as you probably guessed…
Stories are far more powerful!
Let me give you an example from my personal experience.
I used to sell life insurance a number of years ago, and I did it for a long time.
Life insurance is not the easiest topic to discuss or product to sell.
It’s very dry.
And most people, as we used to say, “Don’t get up in the morning thinking about buying life insurance.”
So at the end of my presentation, I would talk to people about the insurance, and inevitably they would say, “That sounds good.”
Then they’d give me the number one objection, which is always, “I want to think about it.”
That’s pretty universal when it comes to selling anything.
So I told them a story…
My life insurance closing story
It was an unfortunate situation, which happened to a friend of mine who was also an agent, and I used this story to convey to people the importance of buying life insurance and not waiting, or “thinking about it.”
Here’s what happened…
My friend once had an appointment with a family. At the end, the husband gave hime the usual “I want to think about it.”
But my friend explained to him that they can do an application for insurance that night, and they would be conditionally covered during the underwriting process. That way he can ‘think about it’ for the next few weeks, with no obligation, but at least be covered. To which the man agreed.
Sadly, the guy came home after work five days later, and dropped dead of a heart attack, at age 42, leaving a wife and two kids behind, with no other income.
Can you imagine?
I would tell that story every single time I would sit down with a family, and I wouldn’t even let them get to a point where they would say, “I want to think about it.”
And I would say, “Listen, I wouldn’t want you to make a decision right now” — which would immediately lower their defenses — and I would tell them that story.
I would say…
You know, I want to tell you a quick story that happened to a friend of mine.
There’s this family that he sat down with.
They had lived in the country for a couple of years, the wife didn’t speak English, the husband was the breadwinner for the family.
He was 42, and they had two little kids.
He wanted to think about the life insurance policy and my friend said…
“You know, you can think about it for the next few weeks while the policy is getting underwritten. Why don’t I go ahead and take this application, and you can have peace of mind?”
And five days later…
The unthinkable happened.
Then I would ask the question…
Can you imagine how devastating that would be?
Immediately people would feel those emotions, like I imagine you are as I’m telling you right now.
It was very powerful.
Hardly anybody could say no to life insurance after that because they placed themselves mentally in the shoes of that family, in either the shoes of the wife or the husband, because nobody wants to see that happen to their kids.
Can you see how powerful that is?
Where to use stories in your business
Stories are very, very powerful, even when they aren’t as dramatic as this one.
You use stories in…
- Blog posts,
- E-mails, &
- Sales presentations
…to powerfully get your point across.
I do it all the time with e-mails.
Of course not all stories end up as sales stories, but you can turn any story into a sales story to be good at network marketing.
Give your stories life with “C.P.R.”
I have a three-part formula for making stories work effectively, and to remember it, you can remember the acronym CPR.
I choose “CPR” because this formula can breathe life into your message.
C stands for Context.
The first thing you want to do in a story is set it up.
In my case with the life insurance story…
I began by telling them I had a friend who’s an agent, and he sat down with this family; the husband, and the wife, and the two kids.
The husband was the breadwinner, and his wife didn’t work or speak English.
Always start with the context, which is not to be confused with the setting.
The setting is the time and place—those are just details.
The context is the situation and circumstances—these elements provide characters with motivations.
Now, you’ve got to give just enough context to paint a picture for people and to set up the most important part of the story…
Which is the problem, the drama, the challenge, the conflict.
That’s what evokes emotions.
P stands for Problem.
Without drama or conflict, no story is interesting.
Now this is very, very important: conflict is what gives ‘the juice’ to your stories.
Think about your favorite movie.
I don’t care what movie or genre, there’s always some kind of conflict.
Let’s look at Rocky, an all-time favorite for a lot of people.
Now, if it was a story about a boxer who one day woke up and decided that he wanted to take on Apollo Creed, and so he trained in the gym, then he went into the ring and beat Apollo Creed, and won the championship, it wouldn’t be an interesting story, right?
What made the movie interesting is all the struggle and drama that Rocky went through before he got to the ring and to the fight itself.
Think about the movie Rudy.
He wanted to play for Notre Dame, and his family said, “You can’t do it!” and “Why are you doing this?”
His brother was making fun of him.
He wasn’t getting picked and then finally at the end of the movie, they carried him out on the field and made him play.
He achieved that dream, but the drama of overcoming challenges to reach it was what made the movie.
Even cartoons have conflict.
Think about Shrek.
This story structure is a perfect example you can use to construct any story you want.
There is this creature that lives in the swamp, and he has a problem: he’s about to lose his home in the swamp.
Fairy tale creatures took over his house, so to keep from losing it, he’s got to go rescue a princess from a tower that’s protected by a fire-breathing dragon.
Others have tried and died, but he has to find a way.
Even a children’s story is interesting because of the drama, the conflict, and the challenge that he has to overcome.
R stands for Resolution.
The resolution, the final part, is basically how your product or service helps to solve the problem.
Importantly, the benefits of your product must overcome the problems your prospects face.
So, you need to ask yourself…
What kind of problems does your market have?
That’s where you’ve got to start in order to construct a good story.
You have to study your market and know what’s going to be interesting for your prospects to read or to watch.
If you’re dealing with the Internet marketing crowd, it’s the struggle of getting traffic and generating leads.
If you’re dealing with network marketers it’s basically how to…
- Recruit people
- Build a team without rejection and without dealing with the daily grind of prospecting
I know this all too well because I did it for so many years.
So go to the problems that people in your market struggle with.
When you tell stories that address these problems and then provide the solution, the resolution, with a product that has the benefits to overcome those problems, that’s what makes people buy.
It’s the story itself that conveys the message.
How to craft your own sales story
Okay, let’s construct a simple story you could use to recruit network marketers.
So, you’re dealing with network marketers, and you know their problem is prospecting, not enough recruits, and every day they have to get up and face rejection to be good at network marketing.
Also, they’re being ridiculed by their family.
Here is a simple story you can tell, and it doesn’t even have to be real; it could be a fictitious story.
Let’s say it’s a story about two networkers.
Here’s how to start…
Let me tell you a quick story about Jim and Tom.
They’re both in network marketing, both are in the same company, both have been in it for a couple of years, but one is struggling every single day.
He goes out there, he prospects every day, and he finally finds a few recruits after a ton of rejection.
But then people quit, and he just never has enough people in his team.
Then there is Tom.
Tom also struggled for some time, but then he found this website that talked about being able to recruit using the Internet.
He put up a simple website and he offers his opportunity there, so he doesn’t have to go out and prospect all the time.
His website does the selling, so Tom gets no rejection.
See how you’re painting the picture for the prospect who’s reading the story of an ideal situation, which Tom has?
He has a website that does all the recruiting, all the prospecting for him and Tom is now able to recruit people without picking up the phone, without dealing with rejection, without having to prospect all the time.
As a matter of fact, his recruiting is on autopilot—all from a simple website.
To close this message and connect to your solution, you ask, ‘How can you have a website like this?”
Then you point to a product.
This is a very simple story that’s adapted from a famous ad by the Wall Street Journal.
The Wall Street Journal ad told the story of two men who grew up in the same town, with the same background, same upbringing, same education, and they started off at the same job.
The first guy struggled financially after leaving college, working the 9:00 to 5:00, stuck in the grind.
His counterpart, who started off in the exact same way, ended up wealthy and had a great life.
One was a middle manager and the other became president
What was the difference?
The guy that was a president read The Wall Street Journal.
That simple story sold tons of subscriptions to the The Wall Street Journal and the ad ran for something like 25 years.
And as I just demonstrated with my two networkers example…
You can easily adapt successful stories like this for your own purposes to make a compelling point and give your prospect all the information they need to move forward.
After all, would you rather give people bullet points as to why they should join—or tell a story that’s going to have a much greater impact?
Hint: they’re going to remember the story.
Because you’re hitting them emotionally instead of logic.
When you tell stories, you’re painting a picture, and people can’t help but identify with that.
The bottom line is that stories are the most powerful tool in your selling toolbox.
So be sure to employ them effectively with the CPR format:
- Problem, &
Finally, let’s talk about the essential element of the success of any story…
How to build an audience for your stories
As you’ve learned, any piece of marketing content is an opportunity to tell a story.
- Ads you want to click, tell a story
- Blog posts you want to read, tell a story
- Emails you want to open, tell a story
- Offers you want to buy, tell a really compelling story
And like a tree falling in the woods…
Stories need an audience to be heard.
So how do you grow your audience, and ensure that a steady flow of new prospects are exposed to the stories in your ads, blog posts, emails, and sales presentations?
You must have traffic to grow you network marketing organization
But not just any ol’ traffic (as there’s lots of worthless, junk traffic out there).
Instead, you need a traffic “ecosystem” that gets you high quality leads that are preconditioned to buy from you.
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Chief Copywriter & Director of Monetization