Thursday, October 6, 2016

Seven Secrets to Effective Communication: Secret #2: Building Your Story-selling Muscles

By: Charlie Gipple, CLU®, ChFC® 
Senior VP of Sales and Marketing, Partners Advantage

Of the seven “secrets” I discussed in my September presentation at the MDRT® Top of the Table meeting and the associated white paper on this topic, I believe storytelling is the most important one. Working with thousands of MDRT-level producers over the years, I have noticed the one trait that most, if not all, have in common is they know how to take the complicated and distill it down into an easy-to-understand format, usually by using stories. 

It is not what you say; it is how you say it. 

For example: If I told my wife that her face could stop a clock, I would not get a favorable response from her. Conversely, if I told my wife that when I looked at her, time stood still. She would think I had given her a great compliment. EVEN THOUGH I SAID THE SAME THING, I SAID IT VERY DIFFERENTLY THE SECOND TIME COMPARED TO THE FIRST TIME AND WILL GET A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT OUTCOME. Rolf Jenson, the Director of the Copenhagen Institute for future studies, says this, “The highest-paid person in the first half of the next century will be the storyteller. The value of products will
depend on the story they tell.” Think about that.

Why does a teenager spend $200 on holey jeans today? Because it is a story. It is a FEELING of freedom and being a rebel. Jeans with holes in them are the best example of an inferior product being sold at a premium because of the “story.” Another example would be Harley-Davidson. The company dominates the U.S. motorcycle market, not because they have the fastest bikes or arguably the best built bikes but because they have the best story. I have had two of them and I loved them, certainly not because of their reliability but because of the “story.”

In commercials, Harley-Davidson does not talk about technology in their bikes and how their engines are made no more than a financial professional should talk about actuarial tables, tax code, COI charges, etc. on life insurance. The story that Harley-Davidson markets is that there is a good amount of comradery and “family” and a different lifestyle once you join their “club” (herd mentality) after buying a Harley-Davidson. We all see this with people that own Harley-Davidson motorcycles—it is a lifestyle.

An interesting study on storytelling took place around 50 years ago. There was a Nobel Prize winning neurosurgeon by the name of Roger Sperry who had found a way to mitigate epileptic seizures. An epileptic seizure is basically an electrical storm in the brain that goes from right brain to left brain, etc. What he found was if he disconnected the left brain from the right brain, it would mitigate these seizures. While he was doing this, he hooked up an EEG machine to both sides of the brain to measure electrical activity. He then fed the brain analytics and found that the left side (analytical side) of the brain fired up. There was nothing on the right. In other words, the brain was half asleep. Then he fed the brain “emotional” things like pictures and stories. The outcome was different; both sides of the brain fired up at that point! NO longer was the person half asleep. Stories are how we have learned since we were babies and stories are how we will learn until we die. The importance of storytelling and opening up the “mind’s eye” of our clients is paramount.

Many people think they have to be a “natural storyteller” to not bomb when trying to tell stories. This is very far from the truth. I am naturally an introvert and not a “natural storyteller” but the year that I decided to embrace and PRACTICE telling stories was the year that my career changed for the better. This was about 15 years ago, and since then, it has become almost muscle memory to me. In other words, storytelling can be taught by practicing and reading! There are great books on storytelling by Ty Bennett, and also a powerful one called “Storyselling for Financial Advisors: How Top Producers Sell” by Mitch Anthony and Scott West.

DOWNLOAD the full complimentary white paper: Seven Secrets to Effective Communication, by Partners Advantage Senior VP of Sales and Marketing Charlie Gipple, CLU, ChFC. 
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