Any time we try to persuade someone, we are selling to them. Selling them on our idea, selling them on our point of view, selling them on joining our cause… whatever the goal, we are constantly selling other people.
It is well known and widely regarded that stories are an effective way to sell people. Tell me a great story and you’ll likely be able to sell me just about anything.
I’ll give an example of what I mean:
A few years back, I’d driven up to New York City. While there, I got a parking ticket.
Obviously, I did not want to pay this parking ticket. Especially since it was over $75. Since I live more than 3 hours away, challenging the ticket in court was not a realistic option.
So what did I do? I’m a writer so I wrote a letter to the court.
Recently, my wife and I drove up from our home in Delaware to spend the day with friends in New York City. Being unfamiliar with the city, we go lost trying to find our friends. We spotted a parking enforcement officer and stopped to ask directions. She told us that she didn’t live in the neighborhood and didn’t know her way around but helpfully suggested a coffee shop just a couple of doors down.
The people inside the coffee shop were able to give us directions. But imagine our surprise when we came out to find that our car was being ticketed by the very same parking officer who had just directed us to the coffee shop for directions!
There was more to the letter but notice how I was careful not to berate anyone. Instead, I stuck to the facts but told them in narrative fashion. I left it up to the judge reading my letter to reach his own conclusions.
The end result?
My entire fine was waived and the ticket was thrown out.
To be able to sell a skeptical judge who’s heard every excuse in the book, and to be able to do it via mail without being there to answer questions or objections in person, that’s the power of storytelling.