Why Stories Get More Sales!
In 2011 my business failed because I didn’t understand the secrets to marketing and selling.
I thought I was doing all the right things… I went on sales training courses, I put myself out there, but nothing was working consistently.
I thought “it must be me”! So… when an old boss called to offer me a job back in the corporate world, I went back with my tail between my legs… but vowed to find out what had gone wrong.
Before I returned to my corporate job, I’d booked to go on a business conference, and having spent the money on a ticket I decided that I’d go anyway.
At this conference there were 1000s of business owners all eager to find a shortcut to success…
All of us were excited when the first speaker came on stage… and we weren’t disappointed. He kept us entertained and engaged with stories and business nuggets…and after a while he made us an offer to buy his course. I couldn’t believe it when people from practically every aisle stood up and ran to the back to buy.
Now, I’ve done stand-up comedy for over 17 years, so I’m used to seeing people hold the audience in the palm of their hand, but this guy had not only entertained the crowd, he’d gotten at least 40% of them to buy. I thought this was pretty special. But blow me down if the next speaker didn’t get up there and do exactly the same thing!
For the rest of the day I was fascinated, paying attention to what they did to get this reaction… and I began to feel excited as I noticed that all the successful speakers had one thing in common…
They told stories.
They told their story, and stories about other people, and it was the stories that hooked us and kept us listening, it was the stories that talked to our pain and fear, it was the stories that dealt with our objections, it was the stories that showed us what results could be possible for us, it was the stories that led us to say ‘yes’.
I sat there feeling so happy and stupid at the same time. I was an expert in storytelling, and yet I’d failed to recognise that stories were the thing that could have made my business successful.
And the reason why these people were so successful is because us human beings are the only creatures that can imagine something outside our direct experience. We can actually imagine something that does not exist. It permeates everything. Stories are the source of all religion, all passionate belief, all sense of community.
One of the big reasons early human tribes grew, was because they could feel a connection to someone that they’d never actually met in person.
Just because they had a shared, manufactured belief that at its core level grew out of a story not out of real experience.
So, when we use stories in business, if we can get people to feel a greater connection, they feel a better sense of trust, and you’re actually giving them the emotional experience of taking the action you want them to take. Because you’re telling a story about yourself or someone who has followed that journey. Because they empathize with the hero of that story, they feel like they’re taking the journey.
Instead of using facts and logic to persuade them you’re actually letting them lead the sale. If you tell a story about a coaching student who has the success they want, subconsciously, they’re the ones who are working with you… if you tell a story about how the product your selling got results for you, subconsciously they are experiencing that success through your story. They win because the hero of the story you’re telling is going is winning.
So many entrepreneurs, coaches and consultants end up settling for less… lowering their expectations of themselves and their business, or even giving up, like I did…because they can’t get their message heard and actioned upon by the right people. The people who will love what they have to offer.
That’s because we’ve been told the wrong things about what makes people engage and buy.
For years we’ve been told that in order to make sales we have to focus on features and benefits.
We’ve been told that these are the levers that motivate people to buy… and they will, BUT NOT UNTILthe potential customer has been guided through all the gateways of the customer acquisition journey, and they’ve first been sold on the product or service emotionally.
Religious texts aren’t full of features and benefits, they’re full of stories. If you want to attract your followers, you need to use them too.
100% of all buying decisions are made emotionally first, before any logic is applied. Certainly, the people making adverts know this!
Have you noticed that car commercials don’t focus on features and benefits? They sell the dream and getting us to make an emotional connection with the car and what it could mean for our status or life style.
The tag line in this car advert is inviting us to have an emotional experience…to imagine ourselves sitting high and feeling proud in this SUV, turning heads and getting noticed, by the hot chick maybe, or the jealous neighbour… and the intention is that no matter how bad our lives are for a split second we see a better future… made possible by owning this car.
This perfume advert is transporting us into a world where we could look like Natalie Portman and experience love… and all we have to do to is buy their perfume to have it.
Now I’m not saying that after that short daydream is over, we don’t snap back into reality and on a conscious level dismiss our little flight of fantasy… but I do believe that the positive association between love and that perfume has now been anchored somewhere in our subconscious mind, (perhaps to be strengthened and reignited when we see the advert again).
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”– Seth Godin
Even more powerful than this fleeting combination of provocative words and images are stories.
Today, the opportunities for those who can harness the power of storytelling are just as fruitful, and many entrepreneurs and companies, who have embraced stories are using them to make millions. They are tapping into a tried and tested formula used by the greatest storytellers in literature, theatre, films and public speaking, to evoke an emotional experience in the reader and audience.
“Long-term brand loyalty is created by businesses that understand this inherently human craving for connection, can wrap their vision into a beautiful and captivating story, and clearly communicate this story to their audience using an effective and heartfelt marketing strategy.”
– Celinne Da Costa – Forbes Magazine
In today’s digital world your stories, structured in the right way, are one of the most powerful tools you have to break through the noise, reach your ideal customer and make your business stand out.
Since that aha moment, back at that conference I built on my storytelling experience and learned all I could about marketing, influencing and sales to find the secret formula that combined all these elements. I wanted to find a new way to sell, a way that wasn’t sleazy, that didn’t make it about me and that got results using stories across the whole customer journey.
Like so many other entrepreneurs, coaches and consultants I struggled along the way to get foundational clarity on the three essential ingredients for my business…and from working with clients I realized that this was another big reason why businesses fail…another piece of the formula.
- Features and benefits don’t sell emotions do.
- 100% of sales are made on emotions first.
- Stories are the way to sell your prospect on your offer emotionally.
- Your stories are one of the most powerful tools you have to break through the noise, reach your ideal customer and make your business stand out.
If you are curious about the three essential ingredients and how you can make sure you have them in place for your business, then you can get answers in a blog that I have written, which you can access here.