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Bring Products to Life With a Story

Here's a $10 million example of how storytelling can be put to work in your business.

By Maggie Leyes

An always-popular main-stage presentation at the NAIFA Convention and Career Conference is the MDRT hour. This year, Daniel Corrigan, a 37-year MDRT member, spoke to attendees about the importance of storytelling and engaging a prospect or client in better understanding how the products you sell impact his life. Corrigan said that when you are going to meet with a prospect, it?s no good to be ?just a generic presenter,? someone who is just going to bore a prospect to death by inundating him with facts and figures. You need to put aside what you?ve been taught?stop being what he refers to as a YPGOG agent (that would be yellow-pad-gift-of-gab agent). Instead, use this simple sentence with prospects, ?Before we get started, let me tell you a story.? ?When [a prospect] hears these words,? Corrigan said, ?it?s like a click in their head; they relax.? That?s what begins to establish the bonds of trust in a relationship.

Telling a story brings the fact and figures of a product to life for a prospect?or even a client who has been unwilling to say yes. And engaging a prospect to share his story is just as powerful. Corrigan gave a $10 million example. He was the last in line of dozens of agents who were to present a proposal for $10 million in keyperson insurance to a captain of industry. When he finally got his meeting, the first thing out of the company president?s mouth was, ?What can you tell me that these other people haven?t?? Corrigan knew this was code for, ?I?m busy. Don?t waste my time because I?ve already made up my mind.? So he countered with, ?I don?t think there is anything you haven?t heard, but I would like to ask you a question. How would you like to be remembered?? That simple question opened up the floodgates; the prospect spent the next hour and a half talking about his hopes and dreams, his childhood, his wife and children.

At the end of the meeting, the company president swept the other proposals into the garbage can beside his desk. “If I had talked about facts and figures,” said Corrigan, “that wouldn’t have happened.” Storytelling and listening to other’s stories are strong tools that any advisor can use to establish “a high level of trust,” he said. “[They] put people in a different mindset. They focus on what matters in life: family and spiritual life. … It’s then that people can make calm decisions.”

Creating an advisory board
But the main stage was not the only place to get great ideas from MDRT members. In a well-attended breakout session, MDRT Top of the Table advisor Dennis Zahrbock explained how to set up a successful advisory board for your practice, including how to structure it, run it and keep it going. His board has helped him keep his practice on course, while generating up to $30,000 a year in additional revenue. Advisor Today made an audio article, or podcast, with him after the session. Be sure to listen in to "Creating a Successful Advisory Board."


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