A good story can influence a customer’s purchasing decision, and one of the best ways to share news of your success is to deliver it as an insight, says Shawn Callahan, business storytelling specialist and founder of Anecdote.
Callahan works with leaders and sellers around the world helping them find and tell oral stories to spark action. He talks about how drawing on real-life examples is really important when crafting your story, and shares a few important tips to keep in mind.
We are greatly influenced by people who are just like us
Harness this influence when it comes to selling your product or service – remember that an anecdote can help you convey the value of what you are offering to a customer.
“I heard an anecdote while I was helping a group of mortgage lenders find and tell stories to help their clients understand the importance of what they were being offered,” says Callahan.
“To begin with, the lenders didn’t think they had any stories to share with customers. But soon they started to remember the successes they’d had over the years, which they could now tell to their customers.”
Ensure there is a link to the product or service you wish to sell
“Six months ago, a couple – let’s call them Sally and David – sat in the office of a broker finalising their first home loan. David worked in construction and Sally was a stay-at-home mum. Their two highly energetic daughters, aged four and two, bounced around the office as the paperwork was completed.
“The broker strongly suggested Sally and David take out mortgage insurance. At first the couple resisted. They felt a bit annoyed at the idea of being hit with yet another fee. But to the broker’s relief they eventually agreed. Everything was now set for Sally and David to move into their new house.
“Four months later the broker received a dreaded phone call. It was Sally, and she was beside herself: David had been killed in a workplace accident. The broker could not take away Sally’s pain, but she could ease it a little by reminding Sally that she had taken out mortgage insurance. After the broker had explained that the family home was fully protected, Sally just said, ‘Thank you’.”
Remember that people like to hear stories about people
This real-life anecdote helps the broker emotionally connect with clients and inspire action. Try and find a bunch of stories that you can match with different audiences for common ground.
“You might not share the story of Sally and David with a wealthy, single lawyer, but it would be ideal for another working couple.”
Use names or, if you prefer, a pseudonym. Ensure you introduce the problem and how people felt about it.
“The story should leave your audience thinking, ‘If I was in that situation, I would want to feel relieved and thankful too’.”