How Good Stories Can Change No to YES

We’ve all faced customers that say they are happy with the current situation and NO! to making a change. We use our best value proposition or our latest deal. Yet they remain steadfast in their determination not to buy our product or service or support our cause. In their book: Switch, the Heath brothers use stories to describe the conflict between the emotional brain that loves the comfort of the status quo and the rational brain that understands the value of change. In this article, I will explain how and why stories are the most effective way to overcome the tension in this conflict and persuade prospects to make a change with your product or service.

The Inner Conflict in Decision Making

The Heaths describe the rational brain as the rider and the emotional brain as the elephant. It is the rational brain that wants facts to substantiate a change. It wants certainty. It connects to the part of the brain that is associated with survival. That area of the brain collects and uses memories of experiences and things we have learned. It is what protected the caveman from being eaten by a lion or an alligator. It tells us to be careful and don’t make a mistake. But as the Heaths explain, it is intelligent. It also sees the destination and can calculate the real value associated with success. It understands the long-term strategy and vision.

Whereas the rational side uses knowledge, the emotional side like the elephant is powerful. This side of the brain wants comfort, but it also wants things like success and pleasure. Feelings motivate it. And it looks at the rosy side of everything. This side of the brain answers the call to adventure without thinking of the consequences. Whereas the logical brain says, wait a minute. I want adventure too, but have you considered these possible outcomes.

Where Most People Make a Mistake

If you speak only to one side of the brain, your customer will reply with a big NO!. As an example, in his book: Tell to Win, Peter Guber, relates the story of two of his presentations. In the first meeting, he presented all of the financial facts, speaking only to the logical brain. He thought it was a tremendous multi-million-dollar deal and a surefire win. He had all of the financial details, and he had diligently prepared for an excellent presentation. But sadly, it was rejected. Peter realized that it was emotion and getting the listener engaged that would win the deal. In his second presentation on a different proposal, Peter told a story putting everything in context. The presentation was for an investment with an excellent return. But this time, Peter’s main focus was on the emotional rather than a lot of financial details. The investors were clamoring to get in on the deal before they had the specifics of the finances.

The Story Difference

Why was Peter’s second presentation so successful while the first one failed? A good story engages the listener and creates the desire to know what happens next. It has a purpose and gives direction. It puts things in context, and it unites the two sides of the brain.

Increase Your Chances of Success

So how can you significantly increase your chances of getting a resounding YES instead of a NO? Create meaningful and memorable stories that allow the listener to virtually experience the consequences of not deciding to make the change. Motivate your listener by making them feel the need for change. Give them what the Heath brother call a destination postcard that lets them see the benefits of making a change. Ensure you allow him or her to view the destination in all of its glory. Finally, shape the path or show them the steps to success. For example, give them a framework to help them succeed at reaching their destination.

Getting Started

Including all of these elements in a story may sound like a lot, but once you get started, it is not only successful, it is fun. I used this method to make multi-million-dollar sales in large corporations as well as small sales in an independent businesses.