Episode 303: Shaun Bernstein
Shaun Bernstein took his experience as a journalist and a lawyer to create “The Write Stuff Agency,” a digital marketing firm that focuses on content writing and creation for entrepreneurs and small businesses. His extensive background gives him a unique perspective of storytelling.
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Storytelling is what sets you apart. If you are selling any sort of product or service, you’re not alone in the market—you will have competition. What makes you unique? What helps you connect with people is the ability to tell stories. Why? Because stories resonate. The ability to connect through storytelling improves sales and puts your business on a pedestal. It might just save lives. Shain Bernstein shares how in this episode of Sales Reinvented! #Sales #SalesReinvented #Storytelling #Story #StoryBrand
Outline of This Episode
- [0:47] Why is storytelling so important in sales?
- [1:44] Can you become a gifted storyteller?
- [3:04] The ingredients of a great story that sells
- [5:01] The attributes of a great storyteller
- [7:47] How Shaun approaches storytelling
- [8:53] Storytelling from the lens of a lawyer
- [10:57] Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
- [14:42] Storytelling raises money and saves lives
Can you become a gifted storyteller?
Storytelling is prolific in our lives. Everything we do is storytelling. When you apply for a job, you’re telling a story. If you propose marriage, you’re telling a story. You constantly tell stories when you sell yourself. Some people are more natural storytellers but everyone knows how to tell stories. Shaun notes that we are all storytellers at heart, we just have to practice to get more comfortable and trust that the stories we have to offer matter.
The ingredients of a great story that sells
Shaun received a newsletter from someone that was a casual contact but it had landed in his spam folder. The subject line was “This couple made a huge mistake.” Shaun took the bait and opened the email. The first two lines said, “This couple made a huge mistake, and here is how I helped them.” Shaun stood up and applauded in front of the computer.
A story should be simple and straightforward. A potential customer should see themself in the story. They should be able to say, “This sounds like me and the problem I’m facing. I should call this person. I need to buy…” Simplicity and connection drive sales.
You have to be able to connect with an audience and an individual. Find a uniquely human element. Shaun emphasizes that you can’t get caught up in the minutiae but must focus on simplicity. Find common ground that demystifies the complexity of your business. People need to know who you are, what you do, and how you can help them.
Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
Shaun shares some simple, helpful storytelling tips:
- Keep your simple and accessible and something your listeners can connect to.
- Tell a story that has a point. People are busy when they’re reading, listening, watching, etc.
- Have a call to action at the end of every story. It should connect to why your business can help and why someone needs your product or service.
- Don’t make it all about you. As a business owner, your story is a huge part of how your business ticks. But it’s not a vanity project. Remember why you’re speaking to your audience.
- Don’t go too far into the weeds. Don’t wax poetic and go too far into the minutiae of a topic.
- Avoid jargon speak. As a previous lawyer, Shaun notes that they have their own lingo. They often forget that those outside of their world don’t have that same vocabulary. Take the time to explain and simplify what you’re talking about and you’ll be better received.
Storytelling saves lives
Shaun worked on a project for a children’s hospital that was trying to fundraise for a new pediatric intensive care unit. They throw an annual fundraising event with a different goal each year. This year, they wanted to take a new approach.
Shaun spoke with some families and helped them tell their stories—stories of hope, survival, and care. He told stories about things the hospital had been able to accomplish because of the work they do so well. His stories became the core material for their campaign, during which they raised over $500,000.
Shaun never thought he could have that impact as a storyteller. He emphasizes that you hold pure power in your words. Don’t minimize the stories that you’re telling. Don’t minimize the impact of people’s stories. You don’t know the impact you’ll have on your listener, reader, or audience.
Learn More About Shaun Bernstein
Are there any books on or including storytelling that you recommend? There are some great resources out there for sales-specific storytelling, but I don’t even think you need to read that. Read great writers and great storytellers that you enjoy reading. Read stories that take you to a certain place or time and make it so real that you connect with the story. That can come from fiction, non-fiction, what have you. That’s great storytelling, and it’s everywhere.
In the field of business storytelling, who do you most admire and why? I have a number of marketers that I follow on LinkedIn who I think do an awesome job. There’s a fellow named Mike Fata who’s in the food business out of Winnipeg that I find incredibly motivating – he’s wildly successful now but speaks openly about when he wasn’t, and how he’s turned his life around. Those true stories are the ones I always find the most inspiring.
Are there aspects of your own storytelling skills that you are working on improving at the moment? Brevity! Haha. Honestly though I’m always finding new ways to connect, and new ways to approach an audience. I’ve learned through my business where I can be of service and where I’m not the right fit. I’m no longer focusing on trying to be all things to all people. I have a specific style, and if it works for you then that’s stellar. If it doesn’t, I’m happy to try and connect you with a colleague that’s a better fit.
Hobbies and interests? I play an unwholesome amount of trivia. My wife and I were pub quiz regulars pre-COVID, and then started playing avidly online when the pandemic began. We now play in both formats, and recently won a league championship. I haven’t gotten the call from Jeopardy yet, but someday fingers crossed…
How can our listeners connect with you? I’m all over the internet as The Write Stuff Agency. The URL is www.thewritestuff.agency or I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Write Stuff Agency is also on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and believe it or not even TikTok!
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