It's likely you will be with family over the Christmas holiday.
There will be great times, reunions, happiness, tears of sadness and joy, great food, gifts, people you love, and people you kind of love. And did I mention great food?
Most people (not you, of course) celebrate by adding to their waistline during these times, but I'm going to share a major strategy that will fatten your wallet.
Holidays cause families to gather and talk about old timesgrowing up, vacations, past holidays. Often, someone starts out, "Remember the time that," and then goes on to tell a funny or poignant story. Such stories are golden. Similarly, in your sales presentations and informal meetings, telling and exchanging stories are at the core of rapport, relationship building, and creating a buying atmosphere.
These golden lessons and stories are all around you, and many of them fit your selling situations and relationship-building process. Real stories authenticate you. They make you more human, more approachable, more relatable, and evendepending on the storymore trustworthy.
Now that I have whetted your holiday appetite, let me give you the strategies and details of story collecting.
The first step is to get the stories rolling. Start by asking everyone to tell their most memorable story. Then ask about best times or best lessons learned. Strive to elicit stories about lessons learned from mistakes, embarrassing moments, funny responses, and successes.
Listen with the intent to understand, which means don't interrupt. Listen for funny events or responses that are yours to retell at the appropriate time. At the end of the story, ask questions, such as to get the person to elaborate or fill in missing details.
Look for the reaction of others. It's a hint as to how your customers might be impacted. Also, take notes. Don't let the lessons, the lines, the humor, or any of the stories get lost. You will never remember everything without taking notes.
As the stories are being told, listen for the lessons behind the endings, such as those learned from parents, teachers, siblings. You can discuss lessons you learned as a childplaying with others, school, winning, losing, getting hurt. Often the lessons discussed are the result of something extreme, such as getting into big trouble, a game-winning score, a fire, an illness, or the loss of a friend.
Once you have the story, and can see how it can fit into your style and delivery, then it's time to convert it to your sales presentation, such as when considering how to overcome an objection ("The same thing happened to my mother."), create common ground ("The same thing happened to me."), or justify price ("My uncle told me a story about his dealings with .").
When retelling the story, keep it short and sweetone to two minutes if you're telling it to a customer one-on-one and two to three minutes if you're telling it to a group.
Don't set it up, just tell it. Avoid an introduction like, "Here's a hilarious story."you set yourself up for failure, and the other person may miss the point completely. Tell it at the right moment. You'll know when that is. Don't force it. Also, put passion into it, and have your lesson or point at the end of your story, not at the beginning.
For years I have preached against telling jokes. Stories are yours; no one else can tell them. You're assured the customer or prospect hasn't heard them before, and they can have long-lasting effect.
I have told stories about chasing my dog, where I grew up, how I dropped out of college, going to sporting events, big sales, lost sales, flying, traveling, hotels, and restaurants. I have featured my parents, brother, children, grandchildren, teachers, mentors, servers, sports heroes, doctors, customers, close friends, and past wives.
When I am in a sales presentation, or giving a seminar, every story I tell has impact.
Every story I tell conveys a lesson or makes a point. Many of the stories I tell make people laugh. Many have been collected from holiday gatherings. All of my stories are personal to me. They are original.
The secret to storytelling is your enthusiasm. If you're talking to one, or 101, each person must feel like you're telling it for the first time, even though you might have told it 100 times before. The passion of your conveyance will lead to the emotion of their purchase.
Now that's something to celebrate.
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