The ability to tell interesting stories is an essential skill for all advisors. Stories are an effective way of letting people get to know the real you, and they’re also useful when it comes to educating clients.
Few of us are born natural raconteurs – but if you commit to developing your skills and practicing them regularly, over time you can become a great storyteller. Here are 5 best practices when it comes to developing good storytelling skills.
#1. Design your story around your takeaway
Identify areas of communication where you tend to repeat the same information each time you talk to a prospect or client. Perhaps there’s a common objection you encounter? Once you’ve identified this, develop a story that conveys the message you want clients to take away. For example, if prospects often ask you why they should switch advisors, tell a story about a past client who was hesitant to switch but later said it was the best decision they ever made.
Similarly, develop a story about yourself so prospects can understand the kind of person you are. Decide to make your takeaway that you are a genuinely caring person and tell a story that illustrates it. If you support local charities, include this in your story. If you became an advisor because you saw a family member struggle with their finances, let prospects find this out in your ‘who I am’ story.
#2. Always tell true stories
Let your story illustrate you and your moral beliefs. Keep it real because people can sense a phoney immediately. Tell them what you’ve learned from life – how rewarding you find being a financial advisor. Reveal personal information – open up and allow people to get to know you through your stories.
What lessons have you learned during your career? At first it can be uncomfortable revealing your vulnerable side but prospects will love the fact that you are authentic. Plus, it’s a good way to quickly establish rapport and trust.
#3. Keep your stories short and simple
What we as financial advisors find simple others find difficult to comprehend. Financial lingo is confusing and off-putting – so gain your prospects’ and clients’ trust by keeping things simple. Don’t start pushing information at people – people lose interest when you start talking numbers. Numbers don’t move people into action, emotions do.
Nobody wants to hear your entire life story so aim to keep your stories short and to the point. This means you’ll need to edit and practice beforehand. Your stories don’t need to be funny or have a twist at the end, you simply need to develop ways of presenting information in a memorable and personable way.
While you should practice your stories regularly, don’t memorise them word for word, neither try to make them sound perfect. If you do, they will sound rehearsed and therefore not genuine.
#4. Watch your clients’ reactions
Pay attention to the stories you tell and watch how they impact on your clients. Are their eyes glazing over? Are they checking their phone or looking out of the window? Drop those that clearly aren’t working.
Make sure your stories hit the mark by ensuring they’re relevant i.e. what’s in it for your prospect and why should they care about what you’re telling them?
Tell stories that listeners can immediately relate to, for example if you’re meeting with a couple planning for retirement, tell a story about how you helped a couple achieve their dream retirement.
#5. Learn from great storytellers
Always use vivid details when you’re telling stories. Paint word pictures and incorporate analogies and metaphors. Try out your stories on friends and family, listen to their feedback, then re-adjust and practice. Don’t rush through your stories, take your time, and remember your punchline – the most important thing is to make your ending clear to your listener. Practice so your stories become interwoven in your conversation naturally.
When it comes to developing good storytelling skills, start small. You won’t become a great storyteller overnight. But if you want it badly enough you will succeed.
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