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How Stories Help You Connect With Your Customers

When I was backpacking around Australia in my mid-20s, I worked some crappy jobs.
I spent one night at sea on a prawn trawler.
The captain had to turn the boat around because it sprang a leak.
Thankfully, we made it back to dry land safely.

I worked on a banana plantation for a few weeks until I sliced my knee open with a machete.
I also picked tomatoes.
I haven’t eaten a tomato since.

But the worst job was knocking on doors trying to convince people to buy vouchers to get a discount at their local pizza joint.
I was dropped in the middle of a housing development in the Sydney suburbs with a map of my territory and a pile of laminated discount vouchers.

I don’t remember selling any pizza vouchers.
I do remember getting doors slammed in my face far too often for my liking.
I got some abuse but most people let me down gently.

‘Not interested’, ‘Not for me, thanks’, ‘Not today’.

Door to door salespeople get a bad rap (excuse the pun).
But let’s face it, whatever business you’re in, a big part of your job is to knock on doors and convince people to trust you and whatever you’re selling.
To untangle the ‘Not’s’ and get to ‘Sure, why not.’

Tell a story to get your foot in the door

Whether you’re trying to do that online, in a boardroom or peddling discounted pizza on the streets of Sydney, the fundamentals are the same.

You need to build rapport and put your prospective customer at ease before you even think about selling.

The most effective way to get your foot in the door is to tell a story.

I wish I’d known that when I was sweating my ass off under the Sydney sun asking people to buy cheap pizza from a sunburnt Irish chancer wearing a cheap suit.

I was 24 at the time and it was four years later before I became a journalist and started learning about writing and telling stories.

I’ve spent the last 20 years figuring out why people connect with stories and how stories can open doors for you and your business.

Getting your foot in the door is the hardest part for many business owners. Once you’ve got some momentum, customers come knocking on your door but getting started can be very challenging.

This is where stories come in.

I love Michelle Obama’s take on what it means to put yourself out there, to knock on doors, to try and convince people to listen to your story. “I’m an ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey,” says Obama in her book Becoming.

“In sharing my story, I hope to help create space for other stories and other voices…I’ve been lucky enough to get to walk into stone castles, urban classrooms and Iowa kitchens, just trying to be myself, just trying to connect. For every door that’s been opened to me, I’ve tried to open my door to others.”

It’s not all about sales either.

Telling stories helps others to find you, but in the process you might just find yourself.

Michelle Obama encourages us to “invite one another in.”

“Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of the biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us,” she writes in Becoming. “Maybe we can better embrace the ways we are the same. It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.”

Unlock the Potential of Your Story