Puppy Party Enlightenment:
Three days ago I was walking around New York City and I received a sales call from Puppy Party.
“We dream in narrative, daydream in narrative, remember, anticipate, hope, despair, believe, doubt, plan, revise, criticize, construct, gossip, learn, hate and love by narrative.”
–Barbara Hardy, quoted in The New Yorker, October 20, 2003
They were inquiring if I wanted to throw myself a puppy party. As he kept spouting off everything they offer, I started to notice myself zone out and I found myself staring at three random groups of strangers.
One group was this couple, where the girl was describing her dreams to the guy “It was so real, so you were there next to my mother and…”
Next were these teenagers who were discussing who would win in a fight between Hulk vs Superman.
The last group was this breakdancing group and they were talking about a gig they just did on the subway.
As all three kept talking, I noticed that debate for Hulk vs Superman got very heated, it got to the point where the other two groups joined in somehow. But although they were complete strangers to one another, I started to notice one thing they all had in common, they all were telling stories.
Even when they all joined in on that debate, each was making their case about who would win in story format. One the dancers alluded to the fact that “.... as Hulk gets angrier the more powerful he becomes in the episode where hulk was kidnapped by Loki and had to fight thor…”
Which then dawned upon me that stories are so important to our way of life, it’s so important that it’s basically ingrained in our DNA. It’s literally how we teach one another and how we relate to one another.
I then snapped back into the conversation on the phone and told the puppy master I would buy his service, not because he sold me. Despite that, I get to have a party with puppies. Who wouldn’t want to throw a puppy party? It’s basically a package of happiness.
It’s all in the Science
“Stories are a kind of cognitive play, a stimulus and training for a lively mind.”
–Steve Denning, quoted in Forbes, March 9, 2012
It’s scientifically proven that stories resonate more with people than anything else. You can be as logical as you want, but if it’s not surrounded by a story it’s not going to be as effective of a message.
There are many articles showcasing how our brains react to stories. Researchers have proven many times over that when we are told stories compared to just bullet points and analysis we use multiple areas of our brain.
In a sense telling stories activates different parts of our brains, where as bulleted lists only activate one area. The more active our brain becomes, the more active and interested we become.
Good storytelling can also help transform the way a person thinks, we are wired from evolution to respond to stories. Which is why when politicians campaign those that set themselves apart usually have a unique powerful style of storytelling.
Think about Ted Talks each of those videos goes viral, why? It has to deal with a few key traits, but one of the greatest components of Ted talks are the unbelievable stories the presenters tell.
Problems with the Absence of Storytelling:
“By simply telling a story, the woman could plant ideas, thoughts and emotions into the listeners' brains.”
–Leo Widrich, quoted in Lifehacker, December 5, 2012
A friend of mine working in sales, formerly one of the best sales reps at Yext. Once stated that the reason a lot of clients ask for case studies is because they want to have a story to read to better understand how your organization will help them.
So why are many sales reps not communicating in story form? Just like Puppy Party rep sales reps are just talking about logical reasons why the product would fit our needs, but never really shows how it does.
Unlike Puppy Party our product just doesn’t sell itself 99% of the time so we need to be more persuasive. Even at conferences when I attend the presentation, I tend to notice a lot of presenters presenting their topic and then plugging their organization, are focused on the data.
Very few presenters have created a narrative around their presentation, and you can tell in the reactions of their audience participating there is some interest, but it’s never very enthusiastic. I usually feel as if I’m in a lecture.
It’s very confusing as to where this phenomena started, but it’s been happening for a while. Sales rep does a random call to a random stranger spews a bunch of jargon and then moves on to the next.
Which is insane, because those same reps will an hour later speak to their co-workers of friends and start to share stories and build relationships. Which is everything there were supposed to do on the phone.
The London School of Business did a study, which they reported “...people retain 65 to 70 percent of information shared through stories while only 5 to10 percent of information is retained through dry presentation of data and statistics.”
I’m Sold, How Do We Get Started With The Process?
“Less is more allows the person we are reaching out to, to formulate the story in their heads…”
–Jim Fischer, Head of Business Development at Carvertise
Well first we need to understand what makes for a good story. Then we have to figure out what kind of story will our customers relate to, Salesforce created the method of making their clients seem like heroes and created a narrative around that. Whichever way you choose and this is the most important rule MAKE SURE IT’S COMPELLING.
There are a lot of ways for us to communicate a story, but there are a few key traits we need to keep in mind when sharing stories. We have a tendency to include details unnecessary, and the art of storytelling is very crucial when formulating a specific message.
Trust me, having a good story is the difference from a standing ovation to a person throwing a tortilla chip or on one occasion a water bottle at you because of how bad you were bombing at 2 am.
Less is More
None of us really need a private jet, we don’t need it. But most of us are working so hard to be one day own a private jet. We don’t need to live in mansions, but yet there is still a need to have one. Why?
Because every-time I open my instagram I see Kevin Hart, Will Smith, Tom Brady all lounging in their own private jet traveling the world in style. Now they may have no said anything directly, but just those pictures speak volumes as to the life they are trying to showcase.
More importantly we design in our own minds what that life must be like, without ever uttering a word I envisioned what it was to be like Will Smith sleeping on a private jet. Not having to worry about who he will be sitting next to or the fear of using the bathroom while using the window seat while everyone is sleeping.
So when designing your story try and make sure you create it in a way where you aren’t revealing too much information. Allow your prospect to create some of the story in their mind mainly because when they are directing the story it will seem more appealing.
Consistent messaging is highly important, if you watch any great movie or show they hover around one major theme.
- Breaking Bad surrounded the theme of giving in to your darker side and what happens to a person when they go down a dark path.
- Toy Story, the original one was about acceptance and the importance of friendship.
- Finding Nemo was about trust.
- Ratatouille was about anyone or thing can be anything they set their hear to, no matter the odds.
- Jaws, To make a difference in life, one has to show responsibility.
So as we can see each movie revolves around one consistent message each of the characters has to learn and overcome.
Creating one consistent message for how your product will help the client with their issues is fundamental, otherwise too much information can overwhelm any potential user.
Which is why understanding the problems they face on a day to day basis is very important, people want to feel you are truly helping them in their cause.
Every-time I turn on youtube or my TV, I can’t help see all the commercials trying to sell me on their good and the narratives they are telling to sell that product.
Nike literally makes the best ads, each of their ads speaks to the side of me that wants to do something great in this world. The side that thinks nothing is impossible. Every-time I see an ad for a Nike commercial I go outside and try to dunk until my back goes out which is usually on the first attempt.
But each of their ads revolves around one major message and the theme of “just do it”, the concept where as long as you keep striving to do something great you will be able to do something great.
Consistent messaging is very key.
Also, as you write try to ask yourself over and over is this something that if you heard would be inspiring to you, if the answer is anything be a very strong yes then try to think about what your story is missing and continue to perfect it.
Finally, don’t use misleading or confusing jargon it turns people off. Stories need to be digested easily. As Kevin Hart said in 40 year old virgin “...first of all you’re throwing too many big words at me, because I don’t understand them I take it as a sign of disrespect…”
Make Sure Your Story is Relatable
The reason people love case studies because they can read something that can be viewed as relatable that can help them understand how the product will affect them to some degree. Which is why it’s very important to keep your stories personal and relatable.
Using your own experiences that can relate to the prospect creates an intimate atmosphere and an air of trust. Every-time a friend tells you a story you feel more attached to that individual because they are showcasing something about themselves that you didn’t know before and that story makes you feel important from listening to it.
Practice! Practice! Practice!
Just like with anything, practice makes perfect. You need to practice these stories so they are ingrained in you.
Anytime I am about to do a show doesn’t matter if I am performing in a theater or a small club, I constantly go over my jokes and stories over and over and over again. So I am able to constantly tailor each act to my mood, the audience and more importantly make sure I am not messing up my beats for each joke.
There is no room for error otherwise your joke will fall flat, the same is true here.
To Sum Up
Great storytelling within sales isn’t complicated no one is expecting the next Harry Potter. It’s about showcasing how your product will positively affect you prospective client using real world examples that they can learn from.
It’s also about making sure that they are constantly entertained, if someone has a great experience with you on the phone with them your chances of selling increase dramatically.
So for an exercise try to write a small story to one of your more popular objections and see the difference in your selling.