Those 3 Little Words…
3 little words that stir up emotions so strong you can feel your skin prickling whenever you hear them. 3 little words that carry with them intense passion, especially when they come from the people you care deeply about.
Sleazy. Slimy. Smarmy.
Those 3 little words are the words I hear most often when I talk to anyone about selling. And I’ll bet you’ve used them all at one time or other. But you’d shrivel with shame if you EVER heard anyone describe YOU in that way.
Here’s the thing, selling doesn’t have to be that way. If you can find the right words to build rapport and anticipation before you go in for the pitch, you’ll feel more comfortable in your own messaging and have an audience that’s receptive and ready to buy.
Telling compelling stories is one of the best ways to establish that trust, create an emotional connection and build momentum that leads to the sale.
I get all that, but what stories to tell?!
If you’re feeling stuck about what stories to tell, here are 4 types of story that will help you to sell without sounding salesy:
1) Your personal origin story
Did you ever watch that MTV show from back in the day, called “The Rise and Rise of [insert 00s pop icon here]”?
God, I loved that programme so much – and I didn’t even like most of the artists they featured.
But I was fascinated to see the humble beginnings, and trials and tribulations of stars like Britney Spears and Cristina Aguilera on their road to success.
More often than not their stories weren’t even connected to the saccharine songs they were selling, but they helped turn those singers into millionaire megastars nonetheless.
Because feeding your audience a tiny morsel of insider knowledge makes them feel like a part of your inner circle. They feel trusted and privileged, which in turn makes them want to trust you in return.
And if your origin story is really relevant to your business and the service you offer, then that gives it an extra level of storytelling power. By sharing your origin story, you build an emotional connection and show empathy and understanding for the people you serve.
2) Anecdotes from everyday life
All of our days are filled with little stories and incidents that might seem like nothing, but can be turned into relatable stories that tie in to your sales message.
The beauty of these stories is that your audience can understand them much better than almost any other story. Because they’ve experienced the exact same things in their lives too.
Not sure what I mean?
Ramit Sethi, Founder of Growth Lab, is amazing at this. He often tells stories about going to the gym, or issues he had with public transport. Like this, for example:
“On the 5th set, I’d slowed way down. I was catching my breath when I heard a voice in my head, ‘I can’t do any more. My heart is beating too fast. I should just sit down and rest.'”
Who hasn’t found themselves in the gym on the verge of giving up? And he tied it neatly into a lesson about determination and grit when running a business.
On their own, real life stories might seem a bit humdrum…but when tied to a sales message they can act as a useful way to explain ideas that might be too complex to stick.
3) Client success stories
You’re probably well-aware that social proof is a powerful psychological tool that you can use to push potential buyers over the line.
(Ever been on booking.com and seen that pesky little pop-up that says something like, ‘650,000 other people booked this hotel in the last 24 hours.’ ? And did you suddenly feel an irrational urge to book a room? That’s social proof right there, triggering you to take action.)
It’s the reason we share testimonials from clients who’ve already worked with us.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I see a straight-up, bare-faced client testimonial plastered across social media…I get this immediate feeling of YUCK! It seems too brash. Too shouty. And too braggy. Particularly for me and my feeble British constitution.
On the other hand, it comes across far less boasty when a testimonial is written in the form of a story. It’s less ‘Look at me and how great my clients think I am‘…and more…
‘here’s an inspiring journey from pain and suffering to a hopeful future, by someone who just happened to turn to me for support.’
Try it yourself and see how much better it feels when you make your testimonials less about you, and more about the evolution of one of your clients.
4) Seemingly random stories
If you’re a regular reader of my emails (and if you’re not – where have you been?! You can sign-up here for more helpful tips and a little bit of weekly weirdness)…you might have noticed that my favourite type of story is the random story that makes you wonder, ‘where the hell is she going with this?!’
And the reason I love being utterly random is not just because I’m a bit strange.. It’s because of this…
During the selling process, you’re in a sort of mental game of cat and mouse with your prospect. You want them to buy. And they’re looking for any excuse not to buy. (Even if they REALLY do want what you’re selling…they’re constantly on the look out for an escape route to worm their way out of being sold to).
If your client can easily see where you’re going with your story, they’re more likely to scarper with their wallet firmly tucked in their back pocket. But if your objective is unclear, and the story you’re telling is intriguing enough, they’re more likely to keep going until you’ve revealed your intention.
By which point they’re so emotionally bought-in that they’re actively seeking out the pitch and the price and the BUY IT NOW button.
So random stories allow you to conceal your sale until your buyer is feeling comfortable enough to listen to what you really want to say. Sneaky? …Maybe. Effective?…Very!
No business owner with any level of self-respect would ever want potential buyers to label them as sleazy or slimy. But it’s easy to slip into the trap of writing sales messages that are hypey or pitchy right from the off.
Storytelling is a way to introduce yourself to your clients, build rapport and lead them gently into the sale….but knowing what stories to tell can feel overwhelming and confusing.
If you’ve been stuck for ideas for the types of story you need to tell to sell without sounding salesy, use the 4 examples illustrated above and you’ll find that the stories you’ve been missing will flow much more easily.
If you’re not clear on the key stories you should be sharing – download a copy of my FREE STORY DISCOVERY cheat sheet.
Click below and get your FREE copy today.