If data could change minds, we would argue less. Although it might seem strange, using numbers will never make anyone believe what you’re saying.
If you want to sell something, then you should avoid using statistics. If you want to be successful in selling anything, you need to learn how to tell a good story.
Stories can help create a connection with the person you’re speaking to, help them understand what you’re saying, and can even be helpful in finalizing a deal.
In the past, real estate listings only contained basic information like the number of bedrooms, square footage, and what type of amenities were included. Experienced agents are today using storytelling to help sell a house by writing compelling stories about properties for sale. Although a listing may have pretty pictures and be priced correctly, a well-written narrative can be what ultimately causes a buyer to choose that listing.
A good narrative allows potential buyers to imagine themselves living in the property, which can be a deciding factor in their purchase.
Accentuate the positive
Agents are good at noticing things about a home that make it attractive, such as a fireplace, an open floor plan, or a kitchen with a center island. How could a family live in this home? Close your eyes and imagine it. That’s your narrative, and here are some examples.
- There’s no feeling quite like relaxing in front of a warm fire on a cold autumn evening.
- Your friends will gather in your kitchen on Super Bowl Sunday and dip chips into salsa. Your chili will be simmering on the stove.
- The master bath has jetted tubs, perfect for soaking tired muscles and melting away your cares.
Recast negatives into positives
Cognitive therapy is a school of therapy that is dedicated to changing the way we look at the facts of our life. You can use this technique when you are describing a property.
The best way to sell a house that is near railroad tracks or is small, is to focus on the positive aspects of these features. For example, a house near public transportation can be described as a time saver, and a small house can be described as intimate and cozy.
Make maintenance a plotline
Lifestyle is the most obvious story but a home that has been well-cared for can be a very appealing factor as well. A home that has been remodeled and well-maintained will have records to show for it, giving potential buyers confidence that it has been cared for.
Discover the story and use storytelling to help sell a house
To find out a story, you need to research and look for its uniqueness. Walk around the house with the seller, asking for details and memories of different rooms. Perhaps they remember Christmas in the family room, Thanksgiving meals in the dining room, or their daughter greeting her first date in the foyer.
If you’re lucky, the property you’re interested in was once owned by a famous or prominent person, which would make the listing stand out. If the seller is not knowledgeable about the home’s history, you can look up deeds and titles in property records. For instance, a Realtor in Delaware was looking into the history of a farm he was listing and found out that it dates back to when Welsh settlers first came over in 1780.
Begin with the end in mind
Have you ever started telling a story only to find yourself getting lost in details and not being able to finish it? We are all guilty of this. The best storytellers know how their story will end before they begin telling it. Before you can create a cohesive story, you must first understand what reality you are working within.
The reality of being a Real Estate Professional is that nothing throws a person’s life into chaos quite like not having a place to live. A home is more than a safe place to live; it’s a place where you can organize your life. As a storyteller, you are aware of your story arc, which dictates that the main character must move from chaos to order. The product/service that you provide is what brought order to the chaotic lives of the consumers.
Good stories are human
Most people connect more easily to others than to objects or ideas. If you find yourself telling a story about a product, a thing, or a concept, then it’s likely that the story is not interesting. When was the last time you went to a see a movie that was about a house? You have never done this. You’ve probably seen a movie where a couple moves to a new neighborhood and has difficulty with their new neighbors (like The Burbs with Tom Hanks) or where they have issues with their new home (like The Money Pit with Tom Hanks). What we care about are other people and their conflicts, not stuff. We want to know how conflicts are resolved. What happened to our main character?
Until they are used, objects sit. Ideas are nothing without action. If you want to tell an interesting story, the story must be centered around a person. The equation for a good story is simple: begin with a generic character and then add immediate conflict. The outcome of your story will be either relief for the protagonist or more pain.
Next time you’re watching an episode of House Hunters on HGTV, keep this in mind. A show focused solely on available properties in a given city would not be popular. The show’s producers find couples who are looking for new homes and the show’s audience follows them on their journey. The main conflict in the show is whether or not the characters will choose one of the three homes. As the audience, we want to know if they share our opinions so we can either feel validated or judge their decisions. If you make the human character the focus of your story, the listener will be able to relate their own emotions and experiences to your story, and to your pitch.
Good stories are universal
An American professor named Joseph Campbell discovered that there are patterns in the way people write popular stories in the 1940s. After a lot of research, he found that all popular stories have the same basic plot. In 1949, he published, “Hero With A Thousand Faces,” which is a book that some people claim to have read. One of the most influential ideas that came from this work is the “Hero’s Journey.” Campbell created a diagram of 17 different stages of a mythical story. If you study his work, you will see the underlying structure for every popular movie from Star Wars to Harry Potter to Crazy Rich Asians.
What Campbell brings to the table is valuable to sales agents because he knows how to write an effective story. Simplifying his work, all popular stories have a protagonist, a mentor, conflict, a moment of truth, and resolution. When you tell your stories, use his framework.
The main character of your story should be the customer, with you in the role of mentor. The climax of the story is the customer’s decision to purchase, and the resolution is the hope of a better future.
Even though Campbell’s structure can help you keep your story focused and easy to understand, it still needs to be something that can be related to by anyone in any situation. Do not recount a tale of Rhonda, a 52-year-old mother of three, who aspires to sell her home in order to move beyond the city limits to provide accommodations for her recently obtained herd of horses. That’s a story for a narrow audience. Try telling a story about a homeowner who is looking for a change of pace and more space. The second story allows the listener to identify with the protagonist and to understand the value you are presenting.
If it’s good, repeat it
In 1960, a big-budget western hit the silver screen. The movie starred Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen as mercenaries hired to save a small town from a gang of bandits. The Magnificent Seven was a massive hit. This film not only was financially successful, but also was selected by the Library of Congress to be added to the United States National Film Registry. This is because the film was considered to be culturally significant and contributed to American culture.
The original Magnificent Seven was so well-received by audiences that a 2016 remake was made, starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt. Of course, the original was not even the original. Mentioning Akira Kurwosawa in the context of this story is important because he was the first to tell it on film. Hollywood knew that if they replaced the samurai with cowboys, The Seven Samurai would be a hit. The story was reused as a comedy in the 1970s, but this time there were only Three Amigos. In addition to this, when Pixar needed a film that would definitely be successful following their first feature Toy Story, which won an Oscar, they chose to recycle an existing story rather than create a new one. Next time your children are watching a story about an ant colony that hires seven circus bugs to defend them from marauding grasshoppers, point out that the ladybug is a pale imitation of Steve McQueen.
Even if you’ve told a story many times, your listener will be hearing it for the first time.
So you skipped to read the end…
Our brains are trained to connect the dots and create meaning. This means that when we see a new situation, we try to find connections to things we have seen before and create meaning from them. You should not underestimate how well your prospects can connect the dots. If you have a clear idea of your target audience, tell a story that will resonate with them and show how you can help solve their problem. If you find that one customer likes your story, it’s likely that many other customers will like it too