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Art of Storytelling

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Jan 17, 2007 9:07 am

Okay, well I have learned a lot of useful things since I have been an avid reader on this board.  But with my small experience so far in the biz particularly in cold calling, prospecting, and learning to overcome objections I noticed one thing that is missing:I have no story telling technique.

  I don't know if this is something that can be learned or if it is something that people grasp overtime with age, but many of our successful FA's usually have a handful of "stories" they tell their clients in order to simplify a rather technical concept or to clear certain intricate products.  If not a story, they have endless analogies that they say in order to communicate an idea. My manager is incredible with this and almost every sentence he says seems to be telling a story or paint a picture so his listener can literally vision what he is saying.   So far I have learned that cheating, stealing, and copying people's best lines or stories can be helpful in relationships with clients/prospects.  So with that said, I was hoping if the real smooth talkers on this board or those who have heard good lines/stories from those in their office can entertain and educate me on ones that work well. Honestly, I can't think of any stories on top of my head, but I'll try to give an example of what I'm looking for:   Situation:  ACAT securities (that the client is planning to keep and not sell out of) to the firm.                  "I know Mr. Jones that we are going to get you __ shares of this fund, but in order to help consolidate your investments we can transfer your ABC investments here to your new account.  In other words, we're just moving $$$ from your right pocket into your left."   Situation: Explaining Risk Aversion                  "Mr. Jones let me make this simple.  lets just say you've made up your mind already and you were set on living in a condominium in Hawaii.  This condominum has space available on 10 different floors.    Would you:                       A) choose to live on the first floor that doesn't have the greatest view, but has a relatively affordable price for the money.  Here, you have complete quick access to safe ground in the event of an emergency.                      B.) Choose the 10th floor with the more beautiful view of the ocean and beach, but have to pay a slightly higher premium than the 1st floor space and have more risk in the event of an emergency   Out of the two situations, what do you think you would choose?  This will give me an idea of your risk tolerance.    
Jan 17, 2007 3:34 pm

I think over time, you'll just learn to do this naturally.  People don't usually speak our language (financial advisorese), so to be successful you must learn to speak theirs.

I think this is something important for rookies to understand.  When you first get into this business, you don't know squat.  Over time, you learn some terms, some concepts, etc and you really want to impress people with your new found knowledge. 

They you can't understand why people are getting all glassy eyed on you, looking everywhere but at you, etc.  It's because you've lost connection with them.

I have had 2 great mentors in this business.  One of them said some thing I'll never forget.  He said there are three stages to selling.  I don't know if he stole this, but here they are.

Irrational exhuberance - Don't know squat, but just by being new and hungry, get out and have some success.

Experienced overkill - Now you know some stuff, and you want to dump it all over everyone you meet.  Can't get a client to save your life and don't understand why.

Seasoned simplification - You are confident in your abilities, and don't have to show exudes from you. 

The quicker you can get by experienced overkill (we all experience it to some degree), the better off you will be.

Storytelling is a by-product of seasoned simplification in my humble opinion.

Jan 17, 2007 6:26 pm

Young Gun - read everything you can from Mitch Anthony.

He's the master at telling stories to sell.  His books include:  The Financial Professional's StoryBook and StorySelling for Financial Advisors.  Good stuff - I've used them alot over the years (no - I don't get royalties).

Jan 17, 2007 6:40 pm

Stories are great. Able Lincoln was a great, humble storyteller.

I had a training coach who used a large financial analogy reportoire to generate rapport, sell close. He is a top producer - also, in this case, a manipulative schmuck. I guess each to his or her own, as long as they can sleep at night.

Personally, if you started telling me about top level condos, fire escape safety and so on, while talking about my investment risk tolerance, I would listen, but the little "potential car salesman" yellow light would come.

My clients like to talk apples and apples. Talk to me about how much money a 60/40 portfolio might go down in value in a really bad year, not about escaping from the condo.

Like comedy, your best stories are original and will be based on your own experience. But, that's just my take.

Jan 17, 2007 6:41 pm

The key is to keep your story or analogy in the context that the listener will understand.

i.e.  If your talking to a building contractor, use images that he can relate to,... core investments (a solid foundation, just like the houses you build), stock picking (just like building your team of sub-contractors, based on quality and price),  etc.

The best way I've found to build my repartee is to practice.  Just pick an object and use it in an analogy.  Once you get the hang of it, the ideas will start to flow.  ( I sometimes find myself doing it to my teenage son.)

Jan 17, 2007 7:54 pm

I agree you need to keep your analogies and stories topical to relate to the client base you are dealing with.  The Hawaii condo story would get me nowhere with my clients. In fact would be a turn off.  Look at your client base and try to come up with some fun and amusing analogies.

With younger clients I have found this to a very good ice breaker and fun way to describe a mutual fund and why the diversification can be safer than owning individual stocks, without going into boring details. Nothing turns off people more than industry jargon.  Alpha, Beta, Sharpe Ratio  ......snoooooze.

"A mutual fund is like a bag of microwave popcorn" 

Clients laugh and look confused.   "Pretend the bag represents this mutual fund (you name a diversified fund).  Each popcorn kernel represents a stock in a company.  When we put the bag in the microwave, most of the kernels pop. Some pop up really good and fluffy.  A few will be duds and not pop up as much and occasionally you will have a few kernels that just burn up and have to be tossed out. But, by and large most of the popcorn has popped.  This is why a mutual fund that is diversified is considered safer than just owning one or two stocks.  If you owned the duds or the burnt kernels you would have a big loss but by owning a larger diversified group of funds the crummy popcorn kernels (or losing stocks) don't affect the whole batch as much. "

Now you can discuss the funds in more detail and close the sale.

Next my ice cream analogy to explain overlap in funds and fund families........

Jan 17, 2007 10:07 pm

Let’s hear about ice cream. I’m buying the popcorn.

Jan 18, 2007 1:06 am

Books about Warren Buffett, as well as, the annual reports of Berkshire Hathaway contain some good "folksy" explanations on investments.

Example: "You always find out who's been swimming naked, when the tide goes out." Translation: People who invest in speculative investments with borrowed money and the market drops.

Jan 18, 2007 2:29 am

This is great stuff…any of you Jonesies (or ex-jonesies) willing to tell us about the hamburger?

Jan 18, 2007 3:19 pm

BANKFC… I think everyone out of college has these experience speed bumps.

2-4 year degree: Irrational exhuberance - Don’t know squat, but just by being new and hungry, get out and have some success.

MBA with minimal exp - Experienced overkill - Now you know some stuff, and you want to dump it all over everyone you meet. Can’t get a client to save your life and don’t understand why.