Are You Using the Power of Story?
Have you ever gotten lost in a good story? Maybe you’ve read a great mystery novel that you couldn’t put down or ended up binge-watching a great show on Showtime…Have you checked out Billions yet?
Really great stories can inspire, entertain, inform–and, when it comes to business, they authentically can show who you are as a brand.
We all know how powerful stories can be when it comes to marketing and sales. It’s one of the reasons why we love to use testimonials of happy and satisfied customers.
But how else could you be using stories in your business?
A wise sales guru once told me, “Sales is the process of asking the right questions and sharing the appropriate stories until you and the client naturally come to an agreement on a mutually beneficial solution.”
Simple and elegant advice from a Fortune 500 executive who has worked with some of the world’s largest companies, delivering hundreds of millions of dollars in sales.
So right now, you’re probably using a few familiar narratives or scripts when it comes to a customer’s journey: how to “open the sales”, “smoke out” or “overcome” objections, use “assumptive either/or value-added close” techniques.
Sometimes these techniques work, but do they feel natural? Honest? Genuine? What’s missing from these methods?
Real Conversations with Real People
Over the course of my 25-year career, working with hundreds of sales professionals and sales managers, I’ve witnessed thousands of sales calls.
Looking back, the best sales calls and the strongest business relationships were built by salespeople who focused on understanding clients real needs and shared stories to illustrate the value of their product, company, and service.
These folks had real conversations with people who had real needs. They effectively told the story of how products and services could help make their lives better.
To have meaningful conversations with people requires discovering who your potential customer is. Not as some on-paper, two-dimensional representation, but as a real, in-the-flesh person.
It only takes a couple of crucial steps to move from a static and formulaic process to a more dynamic, client-focused business relationship.
Step #1 Get Genuinely Interested
There’s nothing like feeling authentically known and seen. When you talk to your loved ones and long-time friends and you know how
So just like any relationship, having a genuine interest in a prospective business partner is the first step to success.
And one way to find these interests is to do a little market research. Don’t walk into a sales meeting without understanding your client and their business. Collecting as much data as possible before your next meeting shows you are interested, prepared and that you have their best interests in mind.
Another way to show genuine interest is to create a buyer persona or ideal client profile. When you do this, you won’t be asking for a standard set of sales questions. You’ll already know where your prospect’s head is at, what their needs and desires are, and meet them right where they are.
Your next customer wants to work with someone who understands their challenges and is ahead of the curve when it comes to solving them.
On top of that, your sales calls will have a more customized, authentic feel. AND you’ll save a lot more time by getting at the heart of what your potential customers and business partners are looking for.
By taking the time to know your audience, the people who talk to you will know that you actually care about what they feel and think.
Step #2 Share Your Stories
The second step is to share examples of your success that are relevant to what you just heard. No one wants to listen to your well-scripted list of features and benefits, especially if they don’t relate to the client’s real challenges.
The real opportunity to is to focus on how you can help serve the customer. The best way you can demonstrate this ability is by actively listening and sharing stories of how you and your company have helped others achieve their business goals.
When you’re client-focused like this, it can also give a chance to brag on your brand, to show you can uniquely solve their problems.
So what success stories are you holding onto that you could share? You could transform that list of features and benefits for your products into a storybook that everyone can use and draw from.
It’s much easier and more compelling to show how your services change lives instead of just telling.
When you really focus on discovering who your client is as a real person and uniquely position your business with great success stories worth sharing, you’ll start to connect with your clients in a real meaningful way.
You’ll start to create those enviable long-term relationships with your business partners. And you’ll be able to easily and sustainably grow your sales.