There’s a lot of interest in storytelling right now. People are using it in sales, marketing and branding, and for good reason. Stories are how we communicate, and they help us remember. We’re all telling stories. Parents tell the story of why children should eat their vegetables. Doctors tell the story of how you should exercise. Entrepreneurs, teachers, salespeople, marketers–every day, you tell your story. And knowing how to do it well is important. But you can’t stop there. In order to win sales, attention, loyalty and engagement, you have to go beyond storytelling and start advocating.

As a trial attorney, I learned this the first time I stepped into the courtroom. There was one set of facts. My job was to tell the jury a story about those facts. But all the while, my opponent was telling a very different story. If I wanted to win, I couldn’t just tell my client’s story. I had to advocate for it. This meant I had to ask better questions, make and overcome objections and listen well. I had to build credibility and persuade. When you have competing stories, advocacy wins.

And there is always a competing story. An entrepreneur competes for time, money and attention. If you’re in sales, you’re competing with the other seller. In marketing, you’re competing with all of the other brands and content vying for your client’s attention. If you’re in healthcare, as you tell the story of the benefits of exercise you compete with the pull of the couch. A parent’s story of delicious vegetables competes with even more delicious cookies. There are so many stories, so many distractions, so many pieces of content competing with you. The only way to win is to start using the tools of a trial lawyer. Be your own advocate.

You can do this with the tools of a trial lawyer. Ask questions, then really listen to the answers. When we talk about storytelling we often ignore story listening. Do so at your peril. Learn to object, and to overcome objections. Build credibility one promise and one expectation at a time. Work on persuasion. Trial attorneys have no choice but to use these tools. As advocates, it’s our job to win. But guess what? It’s your job too–no matter what you do. And no one can do it better than you.

Facts Tell. Stories Sell. But Advocacy Wins. Want to win? Learn to Advocate.

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