Discover the Story by Being an Active Listener

Storytelling is a transactional experience. The best way to get to develop that transactional story with your client is by engaging in active listening. Listening completes the transactional loop of a story.

People will tell you who they are, you just have to listen. This may mean learning how to ask the right questions and the hard questions. It will take practice to get to the heart of your client's story, but you'll create a better relationship if you invest your energy this way.

Listening is an art, and it's an important part of this Power of Story transaction.


Creating a Shared Ending

Beating the bad guy, isn't the end of the story. The end comes through the shared experience of the ending.

Identifying what your client is working towards is the base level of what needs to happen. Go one step further and identify an experience that accompanies the goal that can be shared with others such as a trip to the country where the family is from. Identifying a shared ending makes for a more emotional and satisfying ending to the story.


Make Lifelong Clients by Identifying the Emotion of Their Story

By engaging your client in a story based dialogue - learning the conflict of their story, changing the genre and helping them see themselves as the hero - your client will remember how you made them feel. Your client is no longer a number on a piece of paper, but a story and a relationship. They will remember how you made them feel long after they forget what happened during the meeting. 


Recasting Your Role in Your Client's Story

If you can recast your role in your client's story from that of vendor or salesperson to that of a partner and friend who's out for their best interest, your job will be much easier.

Consider your role - are you the wizard showing up with a magical formula to help your client save money, you might be the buddy in a buddy story who makes the process easier for your client, or you could be the shepherd keeping a watchful, protective eye over your client's interests, or maybe your the Watson to their Holmes documenting their experience and helping them to stay out of trouble.

When you know your role, your elevator pitch will be authentic, because you've bought into your own story.


Identifying the Conflict in Your Client's Story

By learning about your client's story, you'll discover more about the conflict and obstacles that your client is up against.

By helping them identify the protagonist and antagonist of their story, you will be help them to identify the conflict and how to work through it. Some of your clients's conflicts may be man vs. man, a family rivalry perhaps. It could also be a man vs. nature conflict. Maybe the tide line is encroaching upon their home or maybe they have come down with an illness. Another conflict that is harder to identify is man vs. himself - this could be an addiction or a mindset that is out to sabotage oneself.

By listening to your clients and gaining their trust to tell you the conflict of their story, you'll be able to help them in big ways.


Redefining the Genre of Your Client's Story

As you're meeting with your clients consider the story they may be in the middle of. The genre of their story may be a horror.

They have created the fear in their minds through the information that they are so close to. It's your job as their advisor or partner to listen to where they're at and help them change the genre from a horror to a heroic quest. Give them the skills to become the hero of their story.

When you learn to understand your client's story, the job becomes less of a transaction of numbers and decimal points and more of an emotional connection where you are more fully invested in the process.


Plot: Understanding Your Client's Story

In many of today's stories there is an A Plot and and a B Plot. The plot is a compelling question that keep the story moving. The A Plot is the overall question of the story. The B plot is the question that deals with the internal, emotional struggle of a character.

In Lord of the Rings, the A Plot is will Frodo make it Mordor to throw the ring into Mount Doom? The B Plot is will the ring take hold of Frodo and destroy him?

Clients also have an A and B plot to their story. The A plot is the basics. "I need good insurance." "I need a new car."

But the B plot is where the insights and connections to your clients lie. "I'm afraid of being a burden to my kids when I get older and not having enough money to provide for them. Can you help me?"

Get to know your client's B plot.




Digital is Scary. Digital is Good.

Digital is great for companies, because it provides multiple connection points with your consumers and new ways to engage and serve your customer. Digital also tracks information about users online buying habits and other demographic information.

Digital can also be scary for companies, because it has the potential for eliminating the need for a human being. Because of this, consumers are looking for an experience from their digital interactions something that develops a relationship of sorts.

So the question becomes, how do businesses create a compelling digital experience for their clients?