Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

A Good Story Makes the Sale

These steps will help you construct anecdotes that you can share with your clients that both tell them what you do and can offer, but also how you handled a difficult situation or managed a crisis.

So this one time… I’m only kidding, I don’t have a story for you. However, I am here to tell you that a story, especially one about your service, product or capabilities, can help you make a sale. There are a couple of reasons for this. For one, a story can help build a relationship of trust between two people. Secondly, a good story can help eliminate the selling aspect of a sales relationship and gives the product or service an added value that statistics and discounts can’t provide.

If you decide that you want to use anecdotes into your pitch, it’s important that you tell a good story. A story that is improperly told or doesn’t resonate won’t help for you. In an article found on Inc.com, Geoffrey James gives readers seven easy steps to tell a great story to help bolster your sales numbers.

These steps, when applied to the usual process of story telling — pause for laughter here and become animated there — can help you convince clients that you are of great value to them, not only because you can’t tell a great story, but you can also help them advertise in an effective way as well.

James’ steps are as follows:

1. Decide on a Takeaway First

Figure out how you would like the story to be perceived before you figure out how to tell it. Make sure that there is a point that you want to get across, and it’s even better if that point can effectively illustrate the value of both you and what you’re selling.

2. Pick the End That Will Create the Takeaway

Wrap it up in an effective way. Make sure that before you tell a story, you know how it’s going to end. If you want to illustrate that you are of great value to your clients. For instance, you could describe a situation where you demonstrated that value and the satisfaction of your clients that ensued.

3. Begin With Who, What, When and Where… and a Bit of Direction

The best way to start a story is always with the people involved. It’s also important to hint at where the story is going. Be specific if you can, and even discuss a problem or issue when you start to give your story direction.

4. Intensify Interest by Adding Human Context

A story is always more interesting if the people listening can relate to it. Yes, you can tell a bare bones story to save time, but if there are relatable conditions or emotions, add them. Your clients will take away more.

5.  Describe the Goals and Obstacles

Just like James’ fourth step, if you can highlight specific problems that you solved, your clients will understand more of the value you can offer them. Obstacles also help build tension and suspense, which will make your story that much better.

6. Describe the Decision That Made the Achievement Possible

This is when things start to look good for you. You obviously had a part in the success of this story, so talk about the decisions you made or assisted in making to help. Your goal is to make yourself valuable, so don’t skimp!

7. Provide the Ending and the Takeaway

Conclude your story in a way that wraps everything up. Be consistent though, if your story was about a problem your clients had, make sure you describe how the problem was solved.

These steps will help you construct anecdotes that you can share with your clients that both tell them what you do and can offer, but also how you handled a difficult situation or managed a crisis. As an added bonus, your excellent story telling skills might just help you build a better relationship with your clients.