I was observing in a multi-doctor oral surgery practice, and they had lined up several new patient exams for me to see that day.

The first doctor that I observed clearly and succinctly stated to the patient, “You’re going to need an implant to replace that tooth.”

The second one took a different approach. One I call StorySelling. “Tracy, you mentioned earlier you are uncomfortable with the fit of your dentures and you feel self-conscious about eating certain foods that you love so you avoid them.  Your situation reminds me of a patient I had about a year ago who described a similar problem. She wanted to attend her family reunion last summer. She had missed it for several years mainly because she could not eat the foods that would be served like corn-on-the-cob and ribs. I recommended for her the same treatment that I’m recommending for you: implants and an over-denture which would lock securely in place so that they feel and function like your real teeth.  She’s given me permission to tell my patients about her case and show some of her pictures. This is a picture of her a few months ago at her family reunion, and you can see her plate piled high with the foods she loves and that big smile on her face pretty much says it all. I know we can do the very same for you.”

We think in pictures, and well-told stories paint those pictures for us in technicolor. Using stories is a much more robust and effective way to “sell” or promote your services than presenting just the facts. StorySelling is simply combining the best elements of storytelling with the process of selling. Stories evoke emotions and increase connection and trust, all things that are essential and helpful for selling services to people who need them.

Humans have been using stories as the primary means of communication for 40,000 years. They were used to pass down traditions, culture, lessons, and ways of survival. They easily stick in our memories and stay there for a very long time. Why? Because our brain stores, indexes, and recovers information in story format. An article in Forbes revealed that it’s 22 times more likely for a fact or figure to be recognized if it comes “wrapped” in a good story.

According to Stanford Graduate School of Business Marketing Professor, Jennifer Aaker, “[r]esearch shows our brains are not hard-wired to understand logic or retain facts for very long. Our brains are wired to understand and retain stories. A story is a journey that moves the listener, and when the listener goes on that journey, they feel different. The result is persuasion and sometimes action.”

When we listen to a story, chemical substances in our brain that make us feel different emotions are released like empathy, affection, happiness, pain, and fear. These reactions make us connect with the presenter or clinician and create a unique bond.  Facts, figures, data, and logic don’t have the same effect.

There is a scene from one of the most iconic episodes of Mad Men that perfectly reflects the power of StorySelling. Don Draper presents a pitch to Kodak about a “slide carousel” through a personal story that awakens all kinds of emotions and ultimately achieves its goal: the group’s attention and buy-in.

This week, work with your team to identify stories of patients, team members, or even family members which could serve to emotionally connect your patients or clients with the services you know will benefit them. If you’re a speaker or coach, look for places in your presentations where you are bogged down with details or data and work on inserting more stories to relay the same information with more emotional connection for the audience.

If you want to get better at StorySelling, our new Inspirational Speakers Video Training Course is a quick and inexpensive way to do it. Watch this short video about why it’s the perfect training course for speakers, coaches, business or practice owners and leaders.

“If you want people to know the truth, tell them. If you want people to love the truth, tell them a story.”

~ Andrew Peterson


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