Have you ever been in the presence of a business associate who could captivate the group by the way they told a story? Did you ever want to be that person? I know I have. When I used to work in marketing, the president of our company was one of those people, but I never knew quite how he did it. But now I think I have learned the secret. Last spring, I attended an EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization) event on Business Storytelling where Patricia Fripp demonstrated to our group how to improve our own sales stories to make them so compelling they would captivate our prospects. Today, I would like to share with you what I learned about Fripp’s formula for making a good story great.
Story Success Formula: Fripp’s story success formula consists of telling the situation in your customer’s words, the solution, and finally, success in your customer’s words.
- Situation in Customer’s Words: Start with a good back story to help your prospect picture and emotionally connect with the character in your story, your customer. Fripp says, “I wish you could have been there…” is a great opening line when want to transport audience to a different time and place, they will think, “What happened?” Then you take them somewhere they want to go, “That was the day when I knew…” Fripp also gave us a formula on how to present information to be remembered: Start with when it happened, then where it happened, then tell who story is about, followed by what happened.
- In our case, instead of shippers, our “customer” is more the agents we are recruiting, so we share a story about an agent encountering some issues with his current brokerage: “I wish you could have been there when we first heard from Cameron. He was working for a brokerage that limited credit on his customer to just $25,000, while he knew he could do ten times that in sales. That was when we knew, if we could convince Cameron to join One Horn, he would be able to immediately multiply the size of his book of business with just one customer.” If you include some well-spaced pauses, the audience then fills in information for you and makes it memorable to them, as they relate to your customer’s situation. They are then primed for the solution.
- Solution: Here is where you present how you address your customer’s pain points. In our case, since Cameron’s customer is a Fortune 100 shipper who pays within 30 days, we gave him all the credit he needed to handle as many loads as he could handle. His business is over ten times the size it was at his previous brokerage. What can you do to solve your shipper’s issue? How have you done it for someone else?
- Success in Customer’s Words: This is when you demonstrate the success of your solution by using your customer’s words, because when you are using the words of other people, you can praise your own performance and say anything good that they said about you. In the case of Cameron the Agent, “If you spoke with Cameron today, he would tell you how happy he is that he joined One Horn. His business ten times the size it was when he joined, he has the freedom to manage his business how he sees fit, with the support from our back office when he needs it. And now he is hiring staff to build an agency.” It’s also important to take every “I-focused” sentence and make it about your prospect, “You have just heard a perfect example of how joining One Horn enabled an agent like yourself to achieve his goals.”
In all steps of this formula, it is important to keep your energy and enthusiasm high, so you are genuinely excited as you share your successes helping customers with prospects. Fripp also advocates focused preparation, knowing what your objective is as you prepare for every meeting, phone call, communication. You need to rehearse and practice your stories, so your words fall flawlessly from your lips. Using bullet points can help you stay on track. Check out Fripp’s Web site to see her put these ideas in action: FrippVT.com. you will be almost as amazed and captivated as I was when I saw her in person.
– By Cheryl Biron, President
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