What’s Your Story?

What’s your story?

Who are you?Where do you come from?What do you believe in?When you seek to influence others, you face questions like these. Whether you are proposing a risky new venture, trying to close a deal, or leading the charge against injustice, you have a story to tell. Tell it well and you will create a shared experience with your listeners that will have profound and lasting results.I’m not talking about just providing information. People don’t need more information. They are up to their ears with information. They want a relationship with someone they trust and believe in. They want faith, hope and an answer to their problems. Faith and hope needs a story to sustain it. A meaningful story inspires hope that your ideas indeed offer what is needed to solve their problems.The Path to Faith
Genuine influence goes deeper than getting people to do what you want them to do. It means people pick up where you left off because they believe! The story is the path to creating faith. Whether you tell your story through lifestyle or words, the first thing people look for before believing in you is trust. Annette Simmons in her book, “The Story Factor” talks about the six steps in story telling that we can use to build trust:

  1. Who you are story
  2. Why you are here story
  3. The “Vision” story
  4. The “Teaching” story
  5. “Values in Action” story
  6. The “I Know What You are Thinking” story

Before being influenced by you, your listeners want to know, “Who your are and why you are here?”
If you don’t take time to answer this they will make up their own responses which are usually negative. It is human nature to mistrust others. You need to tell a story that demonstrates that your are different. That you are trustworthy. That you deserve their faith. A story lets listeners decide for themselves whether they should trust you. If your story is good enough, people -of their own free will- conclude that they can trust you.The “Who You Are” Story
Stories about “who your are” must reveal something about yourself. Make yourself vulnerable. If your story reveals that you have learned to recognize your flaws, then people will believe you can be trusted to deal head-on with tough problems.The “Why I Am Here” Story
This story must reassure your audience that you have good intentions. However, before you tell them what’s in it for them, tell them what’s in it for you. If you don’t they will suspect that you have a hidden agenda.The “Vision” Story
Once people know who we are and why we are here, they are ready to listen to what’s in it for them. This is where you can differentiate yourself. Like the story of the the man who came upon a construction site and asked each of three workers what tehy were doing. The first responede, “I’m laying bricks.” The second said, “I’m building a wall.” And the thrid said, “I’m making a cathedral.” Your job is to take your vision and transform it into the audiences vision. A real vision story connects with people in a way that shrinks today’s frustrations in light of the promise tomorrow.The “Teaching” Story
Use a story when you want to get your message across, especially when you need to show not just “what” needs to be done but “how” it should be done. For example, telling your new receptionist where the hold, transfer and extension buttons are will not make her a great receptionist. But telling her that the best receptionist you ever knew was Mrs. Smith, who could simultaneously calm an angry customer, locate your wandering CEO and smile warmly at the UPS man.The “Values in Action” Story
Without a doubt, the best way to teach a value is by example. The second best way is to tell a story that provides an example. A story lets you instill values in a way that is memorable and keeps people thinking. “We value integrity” means nothing. But a story about a former employee who hid his mistake and cost the company thousands of dollars or about a salesperson that owned up to their mistake and earned so much trust that their customer doubled their order, teaches your audience the MEANING of integrity.The “I Know What You Are Thinking” Story
Tell a story that makes people wonder if you are reading their minds. I really isn’t that hard to do. If you do your homework about the group you are seeking to influence, it’s relatively easy to identify their potential objections to your message. If you address their objection first, you disarm them.Clothing truth in the form of a story is a powerful way to get people to open their minds to the truth you carry. The naked truth sometimes must be dressed up to be seen. New ideas need room to grow. Tell it like it is. But consider telling it in the form of a story.

Posted in Sales Improvement, Uncategorized.

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