Storytelling For Sales Challenge. Lesson 2

Lesson 2 – Who IS Your Hero? 

If you missed the previous lesson, here it is: Start With the End in Mind.

Relating it to the world of movies (there are many parallels to the real-world experience), we see that many movies feature the main character as the hero or protagonist.

Supporting characters might include:

  • The sidekick
  • The villain
  • The love interest

I’ve written previously about the Die Hard movies featuring Bruce Willis as John McLane, the protagonist.

McLane was a good guy placed in a stressful situation that he didn’t ask for or want.

In an instant, his life changed for the worse. He now had a big problem. So begins his quest to extract himself from a dire situation to return to the world he left behind – his ordinary world.

After many heart-stopping moments, John finally figured out how to get out of that grim situation and escape the clutches of the dastardly Hans Gruber.

We call this the ‘reaching the Summit’ stage. John encountered many problems and used his wit and resourcefulness to figure out different ways to overcome all of them.

Phew!  That’s what needs to happen in your business. Your customers: as Hero’s they solved their problem by purchasing your product – and reached the summit. 

Write Your Own Story

Even if you don’t feel comfortable writing you should do it anyway.  The mere act of writing a story will hone your skills and help you gain a lot of clarity about your future direction, the value you provide, and your place in the market.

So that’s where you should start.  Write a story about your business and your vision for it.  Once you’ve done that you can weave elements of your story into your marketing which might include your About page, and your blog (assuming you have one).

Of course, make sure your story is relevant to your audience which is always the golden rule of marketing.

When you write your business story the real value you provide will go deep inside your psyche.  It will be core to you and will give you the additional impetus to drive your business forward.

NOTE.  It is not mandatory that you do this during the Challenge; you can do it after the Challenge, no problem.  Once done please submit it to the Sales Hacks Group for critique and review.

How to Jump-Start Your Sales with Powerful Stories

Rather than just launch into a full-on pitch for your product or service a smarter approach is to lead with a story first.  You can then use your story as a bridge into your product.

Remember most people are not as motivated by hard facts as they are by a compelling narrative.

For instance, I often tell the story of my business downfall in 2006.  I tell people how the walls came crashing down (yikes – a metaphor!) and almost in the blink of an eye, my life changed forever.  I then flesh it out with some graphic ‘subplots’ which illustrated the pain I was going through at the time.

Knowing that everyone loves a happy ending I then told the reader (or listener) how I overcome the crisis and ultimately triumphed.

If you’re a public speaker you can take the same approach – illustrate your important points with interesting and entertaining stories.  But make sure you get the structure right – all good stories have a beginning, a middle, and an ending. 

KISS Formula (Keep It Simple Stupid)

Think of Steve Jobs unveiling the iPad. It was both technical (equipment) and emotional (hip, cool, and visionary). But most of all, it was simple.

Above all be real, be authentic.  People can spot a fake a mile off.  Dig deep and share the real you with your audience.

Even if you’re selling a technical product you can still use stories to add life to your presentation. 

Your Role: Tour Guide and Trusted Confidant

To reiterate, you are not the hero in the story. This is so last century because the reader sees you as pushy and overbearing.

Instead, see yourself as a tour guide and leader.  As you guide people through your story, take the initiative and give them direction. Like dogs and other pack animals, people want leadership.

Can you do it without them thinking that you’re entirely self-serving?  Do they get a sense that you have their best interests at heart? If yes, you’re on the way to winning them to your cause.

So, start with the problem then educate them on how you’re going to solve it. Get your readers to picture the relief they’ll feel when the problem is solved. They’ve reached the other side and their relief is palpable, not to mention the exhilaration that flows from solving their problem and creating a better tomorrow.

How will you educate them? Describe the process: how you do business; how you deliver; realistic outcomes they can expect; the feelings of relief (and euphoria) they will feel at the end of the journey.

Whether you offer a coaching program, deliver a course, or provide a service like web design, copywriting or even accounting, your role as a guide is to provide a clear plan so your client overcomes obstacles and reaches their Summit.

Storytelling Is Not an Adjunct to Your Content: It IS Your Content

Your content informs your audience about your marketing story.  A given.  As stated, it is better to assume the role of guide (or even that of a trusted confidant), than it is to morph into a marketing attack dog.

Therefore, educate people about how you can help them reach their goals, and make their dreams come true.  Another way to look at it is to see yourself as the person who helps people have better tomorrows.  Paint pictures, highlight problems, educate about solutions and tell them what to do (take the next step).

For instance:

  1. Home Page.  Call out the problem and give a brief overview of how you will solve it. And if you’ve got a hot offer, yes, promote it.
  2. About Page.  Spell out the process and include exciting profiles of key people in your business.
  3. Case Histories Page.  Mini Case histories give you another opportunity to tell more stories. Think about developing well-written success stories of customers who have bought your product or service.
  4. Blog Page.  Your blog gives you more scope to further educate people about the value you provide from the customer’s perspective. Give special emphasis to your customer’s transformational journey.
  5. Facebook Page.  Whether you use your personal profile or business page, the content strategy is similar. Feature content that puts your customer front and center in their quest to solve their problem and reach a better place.
  6. LinkedIn Page. Rejig your Bio, so it’s in sync with your new-found focus on the customer journey. Likewise, for your LinkedIn posts and articles.
  7. Email.  Reinforce everything you’re doing on social media and your website with the latest news and stories, thereby reinforcing your overarching narrative.

See yourself more as a guide than a bad-assed marketer. Your role is to guide people through the buying process. What do your customers want? Name it.  But realize that they will often hit a wall; they encounter a problem and need to solve it before getting what they want.

What is their problem? Anything that prevents them from reaching their personal Summit (their desired destination or goal). That’s why they need you – to help them solve their problems to get what they want.

To summarize, your job is to be a guide. You help prospects identify problems, give them a plan to solve them (your product or service), and close the deal (we call this the Call to Action or Close)

You tell stories to capture attention, stimulate interest, and inspire them to take the next step (make an inquiry, book an appointment, or buy).

If your customer is ready to buy, ask for the sale. If not, give them something valuable so they can continue the process and further build the relationship (examples: free report, cheat sheet, free consultation or strategy call etc.).


Answer this question:

  1. What Is Your Customer’s Pain? Write one paragraph of text (or more) describing your customer’s pain and how it impacts on his/her world.


Share your answers to the above question in the Sales Hacks Group.  Preface your post with this heading: ‘Lesson 2 Homework’.


 LESSON 3 – Call Out Your Villain



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BONUS SECTION – Copywriting Tips 2

1). Break Up the Text

People hate to read ‘blocky’ text. So, they don’t. They’ll leave your page quicker than you can say ‘Í’m outta here.’ This is a seduction process – your initial goal is to entice them to read the first few sentences of your content. If it’s good, they’ll keep reading.

The point is this: a wall of text, is confronting to most people. Many will not read it. A golden opportunity lost. So, break up the paragraphs and split long sentences into two, or three. Those two changes will help put the odds in your favor.

Recently I ran a Facebook Live, titled: Join the No Comma Club. What was it about? I spoke about an illustrious group of people who have expunged commas from their writing. How? They break up their sentences – and the commas disappear.

Some people say that some famous writers include lots of long sentences in their content. Yes, true. And sometimes it works for the simple reason that they are brilliant writers. But, for the rest of us, it’s best to keep our sentences short.

2). Understand the Purpose of a Sentence

This may surprise you, but the real purpose of each sentence is to entice the reader to read the next one. Simple as that. If copywriters can’t do that, they not only let themselves down but their readers as well.

The End Goal. If you’re writing sales copy you want the reader to read each sentence till they get to the offer and Call to Action (CTA). Each sentence should build on the last. This will make it damn hard for the reader to resist taking the final step – to buy.

3). Use Emotive Words

Unless you’re writing a tech treatise, it is better to replace cold words with warmer, emotional words. For example, ‘want’ is better than ‘like, ‘lovable’ is more potent than ‘likable’. Here is a partial list of emotional words and phrases:

  • Secret
  • Confidential
  • Controversial
  • Underground
  • What no one tells you
  • Have you heard
  • Cover-up
  • Forbidden
  • Banned
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Secret agenda
  • Secret plot
  • Insider
  • Off-the-record
  • Blacklisted
  • Censored
  • Concealed
  • Confessions
  • Unbelievable
  • Covert
  • No one talks about
  • Hidden
  • Underground

4.) Cut the Waffle – Expunge All Non-Essential Words

In voice-based conversations, it’s ok to use non-essential words. But when it comes to writing content, you must erase them from your copy.

Here are some examples – my first draft: “But when it comes to writing content”, becomes this (my second draft): “But when you write content.”

Here’s another one: “Testosterone deficiency in men is indeed very common.” The superfluous word: indeed – so remove it.

From this:

“Thus treating a man presenting with depression secondary to testosterone deficiency with an antidepressant is merely treating one of the symptoms of a PADAM man while missing on all the other clinical manifestations that result from the same root cause.”

To this:

“Thus treating a depressive man with an antidepressant is treating one of the symptoms of a PADAM man. In this instance, he has a testosterone deficiency. So, treating him for the deficiency is often the best way forward.”

From this:

Malaysia’s caliber in keeping up with modernity while also staying true to its culture, tradition, and history has made it a must go place for every travel junkie.”

To this:

“Malaysia is embracing modernity, no doubt about it. But it is also staying true to its culture, tradition, and history. Striking a balance between the old and the new has made it a must-visit place for every travel junkie.”

More tomorrow.



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