If we take a moment and think back on our childhood, it’s quite likely that some of our most vivid memories take us back to story time. We often recall, in vivid detail, the tales told to us by people we admired: friends, family and mentors. These stories not only helped to educate us, but they also served to cement in our consciousness a point in time, as well as to (quite likely) fortify the storyteller’s importance in our lives. Some of the most revered people of my life are the ones who spun the most memorable tales of my childhood.
If you’re reading this, it’s quite likely that you make your living in the service industry. In this type of business, instead of selling a tangible product, we sell our services, helping our clients to achieve a specific goal. Home inspectors and real estate agents work in the service business industry. As service providers, we should understand the importance of a well-crafted story. It’s not enough to simply explain something to our clients; any rookie in the industry can pull that off.
If we truly want our clients to understand something, if we really want them to grasp a concept or appreciate the importance of the information that we’re trying to present, we have to offer more than a cursory explanation of the subject. Obviously, we must present it in a way that will help them understand the information we’re attempting to communicate. But, just as important (and maybe even more so), is our ability to impart more than mere facts.
This is where being able to successfully utilize the skill of storytelling comes in handy.
If we’re able to present important points in a way that cements information in our client’s memory, they’ll more easily recall those facts when they’re needed. Which means they’re less likely to contact us with problems, which can lead to them (mistakenly) feeling like we failed to provide adequate service to them the first time around.
“Well, if he’d done his job right the first time, I wouldn’t have to be calling him now with this problem…”
Another benefit of our clients remembering the things we told them is much less tangible but can prove to be even more important (in the long run) to our business success. Whenever our clients recall our stories after the fact, it helps them to remember us in a positive light. That can go a long way in providing benefits to our business. The more positive feelings our memory can provide, the more likely our clients are to “cut us some slack” whenever those inevitable problems occur. And favorable memories of us and our services can often pay dividends with future referrals and upbeat reviews on social media channels.
And who doesn’t love free positive marketing?
While being a successful storyteller can certainly provide benefits, it can, unfortunately, be an elusive skill to acquire. It’s something that we must learn; not something that we’re born with. Storytelling is not something that’s based on how smart you are, how likable you are or how attractive you are (although ranking high for these traits certainly doesn’t hurt your cause.) Storytelling is a skill, just like driving, skiing or shooting a basketball. And while some people are more inclined to be successful at certain skills than others, everyone can become more proficient at a skill through practice. Just like the old adage tells us, “practice makes perfect.” The more you work at a skill, the better you can become.
So, how do we become better storytellers? Obviously, practicing the answers that we give to the most-often asked questions can make things easier for us when we’re in the field. Having well-rehearsed, thought-out explanations to the questions that always come up is certainly much easier than trying to make up something on the fly.
Learning from others that are more experienced storytellers is another way to improve our skill level. There are many sources of inspiration available to us. From books to podcasts, blog posts to online courses, the opportunities to study the art of storytelling abound. These sources offer guided instruction on perfecting our skills and can prove to be invaluable in advancing our abilities.
Another way to develop better storytelling skills is to study other great storytellers. Obviously, we can learn from listening to others in our space. Inspectors can study other home inspectors and agents can learn from listening to other successful agents. What we may not think of is that we can learn from other successful business owners in other spaces. Just because someone doesn’t do the same job that we do doesn’t mean that they have nothing to teach us. The tools for success often translate between professions and emulating the things that have proven successful for others can often have a positive effect on our businesses.
We all can become better at our craft. Through dedication, hard work, and the commitment to study the things that others have to teach us; we can all improve.
Strive to become a better storyteller. Tell stories worth listening to; stories that are worth sharing; stories that make you unforgettable.
There is no greater power on this earth than story.Libba Bray
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