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TW Magazine
December, 2007

From Told
to Sold!

Leverage Your Stories to Resonate
with Prospects and Customers

Have you ever heard a story that could have been about you?

Ever heard a story that reminded you of another one?

What about a story that sounded vaguely familiar?

Welcome to the power of story.

Unlike facts and figures, that often leave us cold, stories connect! And they connect deeply, often stirring us emotionally at a heart level. That’s what makes them memorable, and powerful as a sales tool.

The Prevalence of Stories

We're wired for stories! And since birth we've been conditioned to respond to stories. It's how we learned about our family and environment, culture and country, our religion, strangers and the world at large. We remember stories, and we tell ours and others, repeatedly. And stories aren't just transmitted orally. They are fed us in and out of school, through books, radio, newspapers, opera, television and even through the Internet.

Stories in Sales: Story Tell, Story Sell

I've written before about the use of short success stories to help you sell. I prefer a three-part story, utilizing a Setting-Situation-Solution format.  Using this format, you soft sell a listener on what you did for past clients, what you did on past projects, or the difference a product or service of yours made in solving a problem, overcoming a challenge or generating a favorable outcome.

The Power of Archetypal Stories

Your stories can work on both conscious and unconscious levels with prospects and clients. When you tell a story that echoes an archetypal theme your listener nods in agreement on multiple levels. Think about the stories you tell as you sell. Do they mimic traditional themes that represent the human experience? For your stories to connect, I recommend they allude to one of various familiar archetypal themes:

  • The hero's journey
  • Coming of age
  • The acquiring of wisdom
  • Pacts with the devil / fooling the devil
  • Tricking the tricksters

Using The Archetypal Advantage to Connect with Customers

Consider some of these story genres and motifs for your use in selling products, services, and loyalty to brand affiliations and organizations.

Cautionary Tales

Cautionary tales are stories that warn of danger or harm that awaits you if you do or don't follow a particular course of action. Think of the boy who cries wolf one too many times and was no longer trusted. Or the story of the three little pigs. These tales are great for selling products and services. Perhaps you tell your story about the client who didn’t back up, buy insurance or create redundant systems.

The Achilles Heel

From Greek mythology we know the tale of Achilles, the great warrior with a fatal flaw. If your story involves a competitor's product and its fatal flaw, we'll nod knowingly in light of Achilles' fate.

The Hero's Journey

The late Joseph Campbell devoted his life to studying hero tales from around the world. We can all relate to an irrepressible hero on a noble quest. The struggles to overcome, obstacles to negotiate, and sacrifices endured on the way to ultimate success. When your story echoes this arc your listener can become the hero or heroine, or is otherwise rooting for them. That's the power of story.

Creation Stories

Stories that explain how the world was created, or why the universe, world or life came to be the way they are. Found in many cultures around the world, these stories frame the world we live in, explaining its origins. Your creation story may explain the lineage of a device, an industry or your company.

Pourquoi Stories

These stories tell you why and how things are. They are great for teaching purposes. Stories such as "how the leopard got its stripes" explain a natural phenomenon or a reality we all accept. You can tell these why stories to explain the advent of trends, policies, research and migration paths for products and services.

Cinderella Stories

That elusive match, the magical shoe that fits just one foot, the chase, search or quest that ends in a match. An unjust oppression that is transcended. The conquest of love. These are  universal sentiments you can tap in your sales story. Your love story can meld two devices, technologies, cultures or even ingredients.

From Told to Sold

As you can see, there are countless themes that echo the human experience. And they work across cultures and borders. Many of these same themes and motifs are present in Asian, European, African, Native American and other cultures. When your story is built atop a familiar theme it's that much more believable, tangible and powerful. Sell it through stories and you'll live happily ever after!

Read more information on Craig's
Story Tell, Story Sell — Sales Through Storytelling

Download a small PDF file describing Craig's popular presentation
Story Tell, Story Sell — Sales Through Storytelling.


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