Use Stories to Connect
Stories can take shape in many different ways—factual accounts, cautionary tales, parables, humorous anecdotes, and more. A good story will have three basic elements:
1) Introduction of Circumstances (who is involved, what is the beginning situation)
2) What Happened (who acted or did not act, what outside forces played a part)
3) The End Result (what changed, what is the ending situation)
As an insurance agent, you have numerous opportunities to use storytelling as a tool.
Sell a Product
There are two ways to go about using a story to sell an insurance product: focusing on the positive and warning against the negative.
When you focus on the positive, you’re looking to relate a story that demonstrates how another customer was protected when it counted. Keep the focus of the story on the customer and their strong decision-making versus your role in convincing the customer to make the right decision. If you make the past customer the protagonist, your current customer will more easily see him or herself acting the same way.
Customers who like to feel savvy or special may respond better to a cautionary tale. In this case, you can choose a story about a customer who did not purchase a product or dollar limit that fully protected them. The point of this type of story is to appeal to the customer’s belief that they would know better than to make such a mistake.
For all the talk about automation and technology, good old-fashioned trust building can go a long way to making and keeping customer relationships strong. As you get to know a potential customer, you can look for clues to commonalities between you and them, and then offer a story that will help you bond.
Maybe you share an interest in the same type of music—offer an anecdote about your recent concert experience or your brush-with-fame moment with an artist you both admire. If you both served in the armed forces, a funny story about basic training might bring you closer together.
The beginning of a relationship is a good time to keep it light and short; save the war stories for later, when you know each other better. And try to solicit a story back from the customer. Smile, nod and listen intently as they reveal something about themselves through the story they choose to tell.
How to Tell Them
You can tell stories in writing (mail, newsletter, on your website), on the phone or in person. Keep a story log on your smartphone or tablet. When something funny, poignant or out-of-the-ordinary happens, make a point to jot down a few relevant details. Then you’ll always have fuel before a client meeting or when you’re creating written content.
Here are a few common storytelling pitfalls to avoid:
- If you have a “go-to” story that you love, it might be time to ditch it. You’ll come across as insincere if you accidentally repeat yourself to the same audience.
- If you’re telling a real-life story, don’t exaggerate, unless it’s for comic effect. If you have to make up details to make a story work, you should scrap it.
- Short = not boring
- Make sure your stories are PG-13. If a tale can’t be told without profane language or including descriptions of something crass, it’s not appropriate in a business setting.
Always remember that you’re not telling stories to entertain yourself. Keep your focus on your audience and what will edify or delight them or draw them to want to do business with you. A well-told story is a great way to bond with others.
This is the final post of our three-part series about storytelling for agents. Click on these links to access Why Storytelling Works and What Makes a Good Story. Hometown Quotes can help your story be one of success with our high-quality insurance leads. Click here to talk to one of our friendly representatives or to get started.