Over the course of an hour, Don Goldmann held his audience spellbound, recounting tales about the mythical Trojan horse, a smooth talker who sold “premium” wine at $2 per bottle for Trader Joe’s, and the calling out of random numbers in a penitentiary that invoked raucous laughter among its prisoners.
The common thread of this wide-ranging narrative: the value of storytelling. Goldmannn, a vice president at Word & Brown University and president of the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU), was the closing keynote speaker at BenefitsPRO Broker Expo, held in Fort Lauderdale April 18-20.
See Also: NAHU names Don Goldmann as president
A veteran raconteur himself, Goldmann used the occasion to convey the essential role that anecdotes and yarns — whether drawn from one’s own life experiences or borrowed from another’s — can play in a benefits broker’s practice.
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Good storytelling serves several purposes, each of which is key to achieving success in sales:
educating or informing;
motivating the listener.
Too often, Goldmann noted, brokers use data and cold logic to try to win over potential clients. But to earn a prospect’s trust, they first must “speak to the heart, not the head.” Hence the value of storytelling — using a tale, parable, anecdote or chronicle to convey the value of a product or service in an emotionally compelling way.
“Sales don’t start with a spreadsheet, PowerPoint or data dump,” said Goldmann. “Since the dawn of man, there was always a storyteller — often a keeper of oral history — whose role was to inform, persuade and motivate.”
“Some pride themselves on being logical and creating sales systems based on logic,” he added. “But logic, data dumps, spreadsheets and PowerPoint decks can only support an emotionally-driven decision to buy. Data can help justify that decision, but it can’t speak to the heart.”
That lesson proved valuable early in Goldmann’s career when he met with a couple to pitch a life insurance product. All seemingly went well as Goldmann related facts and figures in support of the product, until they broke for coffee. The husband then told Goldmann privately that he would never buy a policy because he didn’t care about his wife or kids.
That disclosure cut short the engagement. Six months later, Goldmann met once more with the husband, this time relating in emotional and raw terms the financial distress that other surviving spouses and children suffered because the breadwinner didn’t buy life insurance. That clinched the sale.