The dimension of the product, power consumption, frequency of the microchip, color, weight, number of gears, material, there are so many cold, hard facts and features that describe a product or a service. How many of you believe that selling is about providing all such information to the customer?
Smart marketers supported by psychologists have discovered that we can better promote and sell products by building, communicating and sharing stories. This method is an efficient way to explain to people why to buy or consider a given brand. Moreover, it supports a business future of the brand as sharing a good tale is something that we customers like doing. Psychologists found out that stories simplify complex information, on top of that they are easily remembered by the listener.
Why do stories work?
People communicate through stories; this is a natural way we all exchange information, argument or describe the world. As our minds learn by experience, when hearing a story, we virtually allow our minds to get more acknowledged with an experience of the teller (or the story hero). In fact, stories also spark the imagination of people who hear them. They can stimulate customer recommendations and customer product consideration that has practical value for purchase decisions. Here are four fundamental facts that outline why stories work in the business:
1. People enjoy sharing good stories
Stories support communication between people. Sharing stories becomes a real contribution to discussions and makes them more collaborative dialogues. If a story is well built, it works as guidance and interpretation. Smart salespeople know that recommendations from third- party people are powerful impressions that can support or ruin a future business. By telling a story we positively stimulate customer product consideration, so it becomes an interesting tool that helps a sales discussion. Interestingly, explaining a product or service by a story is just a first step. The second step is to be done by your interlocutor who will enjoy sharing the story with other people.
2. People tend to seek a character to identify with
When hearing stories, reading books, or watching movies people usually look for a character that they identify with. Because of this characteristic, a story became a compelling marketing and sales tool that lifts-up information about a brand or a product to a dimension that is usually not available for traditional business discussion. A potential customer or a client who identifies with characters psychologically becomes a follower of the brand, and this happens while sharing anecdotes that support an image of our company or positive features of products that we offer.
3. Complex information becomes easier to understand
People remember about 10% of what they hear, information which is build-in a story becomes memorable for the listener. Hearing detailed information about the company or a product is an interesting activity only for market researchers, engineers or lawyers. The more it is complex, the less interest we can scope. We need to consider that our prospective customers and clients may be reluctant to scope on a message we try to communicate. If we scope on product specification, we can never have a second chance for a dialogue. In fact, a sales story became an adequate solution to such a limited attentiveness of people. Why? Because a story engages a listener on a different psychological level and it makes information from a marketer or salesperson attractive. Instead of listening boring technical details, we can describe features of a product or a brand in an engaging way.
4. Stories spark imagination
Stories trigger emotions of listeners. Once people start identifying with characters described by the story, the storyteller and the listener start a common journey with them. Instead of trying to convince someone in a long sales presentation, a good two minutes story provokes involvement and sentiment. We should understand that telling a story is not only a wise way of portraying brand, but it also activates a psychological mechanism that supports building awareness of a company, product or service.
How the story should be built
Do not waste time to share complicated or irrelevant stories. Always ensure you do not complicate the story too much and address it to right people. To illustrate the story you can use more than just words. It can be a picture, photography, sound, book or any other physical or intangible objects. They empower your story and help your message to be better absorbed. A compelling story should be easy to remember. It can be managed through a transparent structure which is consists of five fundamental elements that all stories have. Knowing this structure allows marketers and salespeople better crafting their messages.
- Opening: The beginning of the story paints a picture in the mind of your audience. It should also be descriptive enough, so it resonates with the listener imagination. It should introduce at least one character.
- Hero: Every sales story should include a character that the buyer can relate to. This can be the person who uses the product or service provided by the company. Be prepared to describe the similarities between hero and buyer.
- Challenge: Here is a time for a description of struggles or complications. Keep your audience engaged and listening by choosing a challenge that resonates with the listener.
- Turning Point: Here the change happens. It is either a decision or transformation that occurs in response to the challenge.
- Powerful close: Once the resolution has been named do not to forget to illustrate the future shaped by the critical point action. You can also try to compare a situation before and after the turning point.
We all naturally are interested in hearing stories. They help to build strong relationships as they establish trust and demonstrate creditability and make it easier for the buyer to remember you, your ideas, and your product. Because stories surprise or educate, they stimulate the imagination of a listener.
Salespeople, as well as marketers, use stories to animate sales dialogues and support building brand awareness. In communication with customers, marketers and salespeople must focus on the value and benefits that is why the well-built story is made of the emotional, intangible elements, not just the hard facts and features.
Whenever you start building your message to the customer try to recall this proofed expression: “Facts tell, stories sell”.