A study done by Stanford found that people remember 22x more information when it’s embedded in a story. So when Matthew Pollard gives a presentation, he invites someone on the stage and asks them to remember three items: chairs, porridge, and their bed.
Matthew asks them if they’ll remember those three things one year later. Most people say no. But occasionally, someone will say, “Of course I’ll remember. That’s Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” People will remember what you said—and it will feel tangible—when it’s embedded in a story.
But what do you do when you struggle to tell stories naturally? If you’re an introvert, the process can be excruciating.
Why stories are powerful
Introverts often struggle to create rapport. But if they tell a story, it activates the reticular activating system in their brain and the brain of the listener. It creates an artificial rapport that you can leverage into real rapport.
Telling a story puts yourself and the audience at ease. Stories short-circuit the logical brain and speak to the emotional mind. The brain goes, “Story time!” and listens intently. Because of that, you’re given extra time.
Use the word “however” not “but”
The average person can’t get a C-level executive to stay on the phone for longer than 8 seconds before they hang up on them. Matthew teaches salespeople to say, “I perfectly understand. The last thing I want to do is waste any of your time, however…” Why?
The word “However” means “I meant everything before this; however, have you considered this additional piece of information?” If you hear an objection, you should use this objection-handling caution and follow it with a story. After the story, ask them, “Does that make sense?”
You’re more likely to get a positive response and get them to see things from the angle you need them to.
Plan and practices stories
A business story should be like the story of how you met your spouse. One particular guy couldn’t even tell the story of how he met his wife in a way that was compelling. So Matthew taught him how to tell a great story (which he covers in his books). This man lit up. Once he understood the process, he was able to write something compelling.
Look at the three major problems your customer faces, then create a story for each of them. Secondly, tell the story from the perspective of the problem. Spend 35% of your story on the problem, 20% on the analysis, 35% on the outcome, and 10% on the moral.
Make sure you include emotional triggers. You’re selling to a person who has real concerns and fears. These elements are critical. Use your empathy to imagine being that person and add it to your story.
Once you do this, learn the stories well enough to be able to tell them repeatedly. Take a paragraph and write down a few words that remind you of that paragraph. Recite each paragraph based on those cue words. It’s called “chain learning.” It helps you remember the narrative the whole way through.
Close your eyes and imagine telling someone the story. Your favorite actors read from scripts. They sound engaging and compelling because it’s not the first time they’re reading them. They embrace their character and remember every word.
Ask someone to listen to your story. Ask them to heckle you and give you feedback. You are one story away from the business you want.
Matthew emphasizes that introverts with a plan and agenda have a huge advantage. They just have to stop trying to do things like extroverts.
Learn more sales and negotiation strategies for introverts in episode #355 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast!