It’s a Story About People

When I was nine years old, I went on a trailer camping trip with my mother, father, two brothers, two sisters and a 90-pound Labrador/German Shepherd mix. All eight of us were stuffed into an old Dodge station wagon, which was towing our little Shasta trailer. Life was good. After driving all morning, we pulled into a state park for lunch and my mom fixed a bunch of sandwiches and put out a water dish for our dog. After lunch, a bunch of us explored the nearby woods and meadows. We played a game of “kick the can” and, as I will forever remember, I found a hiding place that was a little too good.

I hid from my brothers and sisters for quite a while. When I finally burst out with the intent of surprising everyone and kicking the can, I found only silence and an unfamiliar clearing. I quickly decided that I had exited my hiding place in the wrong direction and reversed my tracks. But when that path yielded nothing but trees, I changed direction again. An hour passed before I realized I was truly lost. I told myself not to worry, to be brave. I had recently seen a drive-in movie where a group of soldiers were on a stealth mission in the woods and rubbed dirt on their faces to hide the moonlight’s glare off their foreheads. I decided I should do the same, so I grabbed a bunch of dirt and spread it all over my face. Sure, it was mid-afternoon and there were no enemies, but that dirt makeup made me feel brave.

Time passed and I kept searching. Suddenly, I heard barking and saw my dog running up to me. I was shocked! A few minutes later, I heard my name being called and my family came out from the forest and ran to me. After taking turns hugging me, they looked at my soil-smeared face and started laughing. I’ll never forget how happy I was at that moment!

Why did I just tell you a story from my childhood that was previously tucked away in my brain? First, I did it for myself—it made me happy to recount the tale. Second, I did it to show you that everyone has their own stories, and they’re usually the main characters within them. If you elicit stories from your prospective customers, you’ll develop a deeper rapport and emotional connection. Not only that, the very process of recounting one of their stories will put them in a good mood.

When you talk about your company, remember that most people relate best to stories about themselves and people they know. Capture your prospective customers’ imaginations and their hearts and loyalty will follow. Instead of saying, “Here’s a drawing of what we’re proposing to do to your landscape,” ask questions about the person’s experiences—you might help her remember a relevant story or construct a story based on your service’s future use involving people she cares about.

The main character of each story is your customer. It’s a story about both their past and future, which includes working with your company. You can also describe stories of real people who encountered problems that your company helped solve. The next time you talk to a prospective customer, remember: It’s a story about people.