Stories have the power to engage potential clients and can even double sales closing rates. According to persuasion expert Henry DeVries and author of the book Persuade With a Story! facts and figures are particularly effective with prospects.
In the last decade, DeVries has authored, ghostwritten and published more than 300 business books. He is the CEO of Indie Books International. Formerly, DeVries was the president of an award-winning Ad Age 500 marketing agency and assistant dean for continuing education at the University of California San Diego.
In his research, he has documented proven pragmatic strategies that can double sales results and achieve marketing returns of 400% to 2,000%. In workshops and keynote speeches, he shares these strategies with thousands of business leaders each year.
“DeVries Heroic Six-Step Storytelling Formula”
To be persuasive, these stories must be true case studies; however, they must be told in a certain way to be persuasive. Here is a quick overview of the “DeVries Heroic Six-Step Storytelling Formula” from the book:
1. Start with a main character. Every story starts with the name of a character who wants something. This is your client. Make your main characters likable so the listeners will root for them. To make them likable, describe some of their good qualities or attributes. Generally, three attributes work best: “Marie was smart, tough and fair” or “Johan was hardworking, caring and passionate.”
2. Have a nemesis character. Stories need conflict to be interesting. What person, institution, or condition stands in the character’s way? The villain in the story might be a challenge in the business environment.
3. Introduce a mentor character. Heroes need help on their journey. They need to work with a wise person. This is where you come in: Be the voice of wisdom and experience. The hero does not succeed alone; they succeed because of the help you provided.
4. Know what story you are telling. Human brains are programmed to relate to one of eight great meta stories. These are: monster, underdog, comedy, tragedy, mystery, quest, rebirth, and escape. If the story is about overcoming a huge problem, that is a monster problem story. If the company was like a David that overcame an industry Goliath, that is an underdog story.
5. Have the hero succeed. Typically the main character needs to succeed, with one exception: tragedy. The tragic story is told as a cautionary tale. Great for teaching lessons, but not great for attracting clients. Have the hero go from mess to success (it was a struggle, and they couldn’t have done it without you).
6. Give the listeners the moral of the story. Take a cue from Aesop, the man who gave us fables like The Tortoise and the Hare (the moral: slow and steady wins the race). Don’t count on the listeners to get the message. The storyteller’s final job is to tell them what the story means.
Seven Opportunities to Persuade With a Story
According to research conducted by Henry DeVries, here are seven opportunities to persuade with a story:
1. During an Initial Call to Get a Meeting
2. To Close a Client During a Meeting
3. On a Website
4. In Collateral Material
5. During a New Business Presentation
6. During a Speech or Media Interview
7. To Train Employees on Core Values
For more information about Persuade With a Story! by Henry DeVries and other business books, see Indie Books International.