Posts Tagged ‘storytelling’

The Art of Story Telling in Sales

Posted by Joel pate in Leads, Sales, Uncategorized. Tagged: , , , ,

Most of us can recall when, as children, we were captivated by a well-spun story.  Sitting on our uncle’s lap, or gathered before a parent with our siblings or cousins, we were entertained, amused, awed — and maybe even inspired by it.  It burned into our minds and our souls images, sounds, and feelings that, in some cases, have stayed with us for a lifetime.  And often there was, unbeknownst to us at the time, an important life-lesson embedded in that story.

So, what does all this have to do with sales?  Everything.

Think about it.  If you were in the audience for another sales person’s sales presentation, which kind would you rather listen to: one in which the presenter simply recited a list of features and benefits, facts and statistics, or one that included a stimulating, engaging, riveting, or inspiring story about how he or she helped another customer solve a problem similar to the one with which you had been wrestling, or achieved an outcome you’re looking to achieve?  Which one would move you, and which would bore you?  Which one would be memorable, and which would be forgettable?

You get the idea.

It all boils down to what it is you’re trying to accomplish with your sales presentation.  Are you trying to simply educate and inform?  Well, that’s certainly part of it, of course.  And the facts and figures you present will usually accomplish that part of your objective.

But that’s not enough.  Educating and informing may be a necessary part of your presentation, but it’s not sufficient for a sales presentation.  A sales presentation is not a mere lecture; its goal is much more ambitious: to move a typically undecided, often skeptical, sometimes confrontational prospect in the direction you want — towards the purchase of your product of service.  When you think of it that way, this all becomes really critical, doesn’t it?

The fact is that presentations that include stories are just more memorable.  They’re also more inspiring.  They’re highly motivational.  And, if told well, they’re also “actionable;” in other words, they get your prospects to do something — like sign up for what you have to offer them.

And isn’t that what you want?  Of course, it is.

So how can you use stories to make your sales presentation truly memorable?  There are two elements to consider when preparing and delivering a story: what your story is about, and how you tell it.

As indicated above, your story should vividly illustrate how you helped another customer solve a problem similar to the one with which your prospect has been wrestling.  So, you should have a handful of stories available for different prospect types or for each of your solutions.

As for how to tell them, good stories, like all good presentations, have a strong opening that sets up the story, the body — or “meat” — of the story, and a satisfying conclusion.

Begin (open) by naming the customer (be sure to get clearance beforehand from the customer to use their name), and what they do.  Then describe the situation.  What was their particular problem or challenge?  What were they trying to accomplish?

Then get into the heart of the story (body).  Take them through the highlights of the customer’s decision process — specifically, who else they had considered in addition to you and why they chose you.  This is your opportunity to create that strong emotional connection with your audience because, most likely, that’s exactly where they are in their evaluation process.  People find it comforting to know that they’re not the only ones who’ve faced a similar decision and found a satisfactory solution — namely, you!

Lastly (conclusion), what was the solution they bought and that you implemented, and what was the outcome for them?  Use figures, whenever possible, and weave in a direct customer quote or two if you can; make your story more tangible and significantly more compelling.

Keep in mind that, while this looks like a lot, the actual relaying of your story will likely take no more than 2-3 minutes.  If, in rehearsing it, it takes any longer, trim it down.  People like stories, but in business — unlike at the theater — time is precious.   Make your point, and move on.

Action Item:

Take a customer success and turn it into a 2-3 minute story, using the format described above.  Rehearse and practice your story on a colleague or significant other, or in an empty room with a tape recorder — whichever you’re comfortable with.  The key is to create and polish a compelling story you can embed into your presentation that will move your prospects towards closure.

Happy holidays, and good selling in 2014!

 

By: Craig James, www.salessolutions.com

 

 

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