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Human Behavior

Telling an Effective Story

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Storytelling is as old as the ages. Before there was writing, people told stories to keep events alive. As children, we are spellbound by stories and want to hear the same ones over and over again. Not much changes as we age. We may not want to hear the same ones, but we are often captivated by stories and remember what we’ve been told. Adult learners take in new information most effectively when they can relate to it, and hearing a story about something we recognize does just this.

Storytelling in the financial services world is critical. Most people don’t know what they don’t know, or should know, about their money and financial decision-making. They hear the “pitch” from advertisers, from you as the financial advisor, and from the industry at large, but they may not understand the relevance to their own lives.

This is why so many advertisements show “normal people” enjoying life with a safe and secure financial plan behind them. People want to see someone that could be them, and want to hear a story about someone similar who made a decision that helped them.

For many advisors, storytelling is challenging. They believe they need to be an actor, or embellish information to create a captivating scene. Instead, storytelling is about telling the truth: who you worked with, why they needed you, and what you did for them.

Want to get better at storytelling to improve your prospecting and selling success? Here are a few key tips for becoming a better storyteller:

  1. Know the beginning, middle and end of your story. Don’t leave the person hanging at the problem, or even how you solved it; tell them what happened at the end. Could your client take the trip they always dreamed of? Send their grandchildren to college without debt? Move to a favorite location? Make sure you tell how the story ends.
  2. Create a scenario that someone can recognize – age, family situation, career focus, etc. Be as detailed as possible so your listener says “That could be me!”
  3. Focus on the process – the person or couple came to you wanting something. What did you do first? Next? What steps did you take? We call this giving a window into the situation. Explain the flow of what happened and how it unfolded.
  4. Bring the story back to the person or people listening to you. What’s the relevance to them? Why should they care or connect to the story? Don’t expect them to know – make it relevant so they see themselves in it.
     

Storytelling, like most things, takes practice. Start by telling your family about clients you have worked with (of course, don’t share confidential information). Think of stories about people you have worked with while you are driving or sitting at home. Practice them as often as you can, and become a compelling storyteller!

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