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How storytelling can help you make more placements

Posted By APSO, Monday, 17 November 2014
Updated: Monday, 10 November 2014

How storytelling can help you make more placements

According to Rivka Willick, a story coach and writer who works with salespeople to help infuse a story into their brand and content, storytelling is the hot new trend in sales. She believes that the ability to tell a story escalates a salespersons success dramatically and says, “A good salesperson knows how to talk; a great salesperson knows how to tell a story”.

Whilst reading the associated article I got to thinking: in my experience the most successful recruiters are those who are able to tell their clients the candidate’s story and help them to visualise why the candidate would be a great addition to their team. Far from simply pushing CVs at a client, the ability to unlock the candidate’s story from them, and then to tell this to the client in a way that helps them to understand why this candidate would be a great fit is crucial to making long-term mutually successful placements.


Why stories sell

It is well documented and scientifically proven that stories have a profound effect on our brains and our behaviour. Experiments by neuroeconomics pioneer Paul Zak found that for stories to be highly engaging they should contain key elements including a climax and the final wrap up where all the strands come together connecting the dots. A successful story can trigger empathetic responses, associated with the release of Oxytocin, often referred to as the “trust hormone”, that when released in the brain of your prospect can help to build trust in you, your brand and product or service, and in doing so increase sales.

Building a Successful Story

Killer stories are those that are full of visual and sense-based detail and should move in “real time”. Of course, no matter how good the story, unless it is relevant to your audience, it is not likely to have the impact you’re looking for. Here are some top tips for building a successful candidate marketing story:

1.       Appeal to both logic and emotion by combining facts with narrative

Combining compelling facts with attractive stories is a winning recipe as the combination of logic and emotion helps to engage both the left & right hemispheres of our brains.

E.g.: Incorporate facts about the candidate such as their qualifications with stories from their previous jobs, ones that illustrate just how the candidate has utilised their qualification, experience and expertise in solving a previous employer’s problem, particularly if this is a problem that your client (and their prospective employer) is also experiencing.


2.       Be structured

Stories that do not have a clearly defined beginning, middle and end do not engage our brains in the same way, in fact, according to Zak, people ignore them. To tell an effective story you should spend time developing it. Find the story. Write it. Hone it to perfection by re-writing it. Run it by someone you trust and then commit it to memory. Stories should ideally be confidently told, not simply read, in order to have the most effect.


E.g.: Once you’ve interviewed the candidate and have sufficient stories from them, review your client’s key issues and find the relevant candidate experiences that would clearly show why they are a good option. Build the story logically, taking care to structure it in a logical flow.


3.       Use metaphors

Stories, especially metaphors, work on the subconscious mind. In sales situations, stories allow the subconscious mind of the prospect to truly “get” and see the valuable application of the product or service. Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) shows that all humans run 99% subconsciously and only 1% consciously and so metaphors help our brains to experience the story, as if we are living it ourselves. Semantics matter! Choose your words carefully to help the prospect feel the message you’re trying to convey.


E.g.: When presenting a candidate as a potential employee, take care to use descriptive words that resonate with the client and help him to imagine him/her in that role.


4.       Do your homework

No matter how compelling your story, if it does not mean anything to the listener then it will not have the desired effect. You need to do your homework and truly understand your client’s points of pain and what they believe they need to resolve them. Once you understand this, you can craft the story to illustrate exactly why the candidate you’re presenting will be their best choice.


E.g.: If your client has previously had difficulty finding someone to lead a team of highly strung creatives you need to find examples from your candidates that can clearly show the client how he/she has previously worked in a difficult environment and ideally provide examples of where they have managed difficult individuals to maintain team dynamics and overall goal achievement.

The process of uncovering and re-telling candidate stories may seem like extra work but the rewards will be evident. As access to information becomes increasingly easy for clients directly, consider this a unique opportunity to reinforce your value.

Don’t be a data-seller, be a story-teller!


Tags:  APSO  APSOgram  emotion  facts  logic  metaphors  narrative  placements  storytelling  structure  success 

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