People love a good story; in fact, a good story can make up for other shortcomings one may face. How many times have you left a movie thinking the acting was great, but the plot – the story lacked, and as result took away from the experience? Sales people face similar challenges, we have all left meetings knowing that our presentation style, timing, and other elements were really good, but we failed to capture the imagination of the buyer because our story was off or missed the mark.
A good story is integral in a number of ways to sales success, and can often be the difference in a buyer choosing you over a viable competitor. A good story works on a number of levels, helping buyers get engaged, motivating him/her to take action critical to moving the sale forward.
Buyers ultimately buy into your story before they may buy your product, and best of all will tell “your story”, the one he/she likes, to other people in the company who can impact the sale, as a result, a good story can keep on giving beyond the first time you tell it. Now I want to be clear, when I say story, I don’t mean BSing your buyer, but rather presenting things in a way that is easier for them to consume, understand and trust.
Think of your own experience with stories, when you were a child, you loved listening to stories, at home, day care, even early school years. They let you visualize scenes that were good, they delivered subtle life lessons, and formed your outlook on certain subjects. Add to that the element of trust inherent in a story, think back when you sat with one of your parents, grandparents, or your teacher at story time, people you trusted; a good story invokes a feeling of trust in addition to communicating a message. Those same ancient elements are still at play no matter how sophisticated one may pretend to be, or where they buy their suits. The same factors that cause us to flinch when we hear a loud noise or experience thunder and lightning, cause us to have a positive reaction, a warm feel and trust when we hear a good story. You may own a super-smart-phone, but our instincts are still in caveman.Ø.
In sales, as in earlier days, a story has to have a beginning, a middle, end, and moral. You need to Engage the buyer, draw them in during Discovery, Gain their trust and commitment, and you have to deliver the goods at the end. The moral is of course is the beneficial impact on the client’s objective that only your offering can deliver, anything short of that would just expose the buyer to the risks outlined in the plot of your story.
So take time to develop your narrative, don’t overlook the benefit of setting out a story board; while I am not big on PowerPoint presentations, if you are going to use them, make sure you incorporate a good story. One based on elements that have proven successful in previous sales, while avoiding those that have scared people off. If like me, you rely on questions and dialogue, you can still plan ahead and make sure that the story of your offering, the direct impact on the buyer is at the core of the exchange, and that the plot moves towards a simple and logical conclusion for the buyer. What better opportunity for sales and marketing to work together to deliver something impactful beyond glossy collateral.
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