“We’re the lowest priced single-family detached, non-motor court product.”

“No two homes are the same—they are all different. Some have bedrooms with bay windows, because of these bump-outs. Others don’t. Nothing is cookie cutter.”

“Two of our plans have full-sized driveways, so you don’t even have to deal with the motor-court at all.”

Compelling, motivating reasons to buy a home in a new community? Or details I maybe didn’t know or need to care about, until that seed of doubt was planted. True story, experienced when shopping for homes in a new planned community.

Stories that tell me nothing about the community itself, and give me reasons not to buy each specific home. Unintentional for sure, but a missed opportunity to connect with me. To understand me. What my situation is. What my needs are. Armed with that knowledge, the salesperson would have been able to understand exactly how their homes (not “product”) could make my life amazing. And why this community offered the lifestyle I crave.

Without that, the experience is like a doctor prescribing a medication, before they complete the diagnosis. Maybe I don’t need that anti-depressant. Maybe it’s the anti-inflammatory that will fix my strained Achilles tendon?

And it all comes down to the story being told. Even industry giants like IBM are on board with the power of story in business. Mary Winans, CMO of IBM explained in a recent AdAge article why they are hiring Hollywood screenwriters on staff, in-house. To tell their story, in ways that will connect with all their various customers. And to pay attention to the narrative arc—what comes first, how does interest build, then how does it end, leaving you wanting the sequel.

IBMs’ Winans said it best, “We’re getting better at not forcing a discussion about product too early in the process. Before we introduce a solution, we want to make sure we really understand a particular prospect’s challenge.” (Find the full interview here: http://bit.ly/2bKjqoD).

The best stories connect on a personal level. It’s what makes storytelling a very powerful tool in business, turning what you sell from a commodity, into an experience people want. Next time you have the opportunity to talk with one of your customers, try switching from the old model: “We sell __________. They are made of the finest ________, with the finest ________. Want to buy one?”

Instead, try asking a few questions, and then listen to your customers before you hit the play button and launch the script about what you are or are not. Start with the why you do what you do. Then tell them how you do it. And only then, tell them the what you do.