It’s as old as humankind.
It’s a proven way to get your message heard and understood.
So why don’t we tell more engaging stories about our firms, our products and ourselves?
Rob Salafia is a speaker, executive coach and corporate storyteller. He combines two decades of experience as a top leadership development executive with a well-established career in the performing arts. He has a passion for helping leaders enhance their presence, connect authentically with others, and tell engaging stories. He helps sales leaders bring their products and services to life in a compelling and relevant way, connecting to every person in the room.
Rob is the founder and president of Protagonist Consulting Group. He is highly skilled working one-on-one, as well as facilitating small and large group learning sessions. Rob is a lecturer in MIT Sloan School of Management and an executive coach for MIT’s Sloan Fellows, AMP and EMBA Programs. His clients are Fortune 500 companies and organizations, including, ING Bank, American Express, Alliance Bernstein, Merrill Lynch, NN Group, Sony Music Entertainment, News Corp, Fidelity, Sapient Consulting, and Royal Bank of Scotland.
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Storytelling: The Wholesaler’s Secret Weapon
“It’s pitch day at the wholesaler’s conference. You have taken the stage and are standing in front of a room full of financial advisors whose eyes are half glazed by the relentless drone of ghost-like speakers and number crunching slide shows. You stand unfazed and are actually feeling a bit excited. You pause, take a deep breath, survey the audience, and smile. You look at one person directly and in a confident and steady voice ask, ‘what do you say to someone when they ask you, ‘what do you do?’
Twenty minutes later the audience stands and applauds as you leave the stage. Advisors are lining up to shake your hand and get your business card. Is this just a dream? Or can this be a reality? Your reality? Well, as the pedestrian on 57th street learned when she saw a musician getting out of a cab and asked, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer invariably is, “Practice”.
Differentiating your self in a crowded marketplace where everyone seems to be selling the same thing is a daunting challenge. What you need to know is that your audience feels the same way. Think of them as being stranded on a hot, desert island thirsty for clarity and guidance. Your presence and your story can give them what they need.
As a sales leader if you were to be granted one sales super power, what would you choose? From my perspective it would be the power to tell personal, engaging and relevant stories.
Well-crafted stories are relatable. They have a main character which whom your audience can identify. If an audience can see themselves in your story they feel that you get them. They will gladly give you their attention and maybe your business.
Stories are memorable. If the journey that you share is filled with emotional rich images, an earnest challenge and appropriate outcome, it becomes sticky and meaningful.
The best stories get retold. The true test of a great story is if it gets passed along to others. If it is a well-crafted story, it will continue to resonate and make sense to those you share it with.
I can hear you thinking…. But doesn’t my audience want to know the facts? Yes, they do, but not until you have captured their attention and interest and gotten a sense about whom you are.
Think of your brain as having two doors; the front door is the entrance for logic and facts. This is where you deliver your marketing messages. The back door is the entrance for feelings and emotions. This is where the decisions are made. When a friend visits, do they come to the front or back door?
For example, if you are planning to move to a new city, how do you decide what town to live in? Where are the best schools? You go online and search the facts. This process enables you to narrow down the list. How then do you choose? You make your decision by talking to people about their experiences. They share their stories with you, the good and the bad. You then make your decisions based on the stories that resonate with your values, needs and wants.
Stories speak to us like a best friend. They build trust, connection and ultimately, customers.
Written by Rob Salafia