Strong salespeople are always looking for new tactics and strategies to reach & close their ideal customer. Here’s one you may not have considered.
What if you ditched the facts and your 100-slide presentation deck, left them at the office, and showed up with a few concise stories? The results may surprise you. (If you don’t believe me, watch this 4-minute video.)
Stories are the most powerful tool in your sales toolkit.
For example, let’s take a client success story. You and your sales team took a recent project and hit it out of the park for a client. The client was absolutely thrilled with your work and you were able to get a testimonial from them about your working relationship. The sales team worked really hard to win the client’s business in the first place and your sales manager was thrilled with the team’s execution.
Why not use this client success story in future sales calls?
By sharing this one client success story, you create a vehicle for sharing so much information about your company and your solution. Jonah Berger explains: “People don’t think in terms of information. They think in terms of narratives. But while people focus on the story itself, information comes along for the ride” and that “the magic of stories…[is] that information travels under the guise of what seems like idle chatter”.
One client success story can help you share information about your company that a potential customer couldn’t possibly remember in fact and figures. It’s your job to distill the information into a story that can be shared. The story becomes a tool that a potential customer can share with his or her boss in order to sell the idea internally; it’s the vehicle for communicating your process, your solution, the benefit of choosing you as a provider, and the company’s ability to deliver high-quality results.
I’m not talking about fairytales and teddy bears. That’s not the kind of story that will help you sell.
So what kind of stories should we tell in a sales context?
There are 4 types of stories that you should tell in your daily work with prospects and customers:
Some of these may be obvious. Others, not so much. But you need to be ready with several different types of stories so that you can choose the RIGHT story, for the RIGHT person, at the RIGHT time.
Once you are comfortable with each type of story that can be told in a sales context, spend some time thinking about what situations you most need stories. These are the situations in which you most often find yourself. For example, it could be: networking events, project pitch meetings, cold calling, implementation meetings, etc. Answer the question: “When and where do I need stories the most?”.
Your columns are the type of story.
Your rows are the situations that call for story.
You now have the bones of your story matrix.
You’re well on your way to using the most powerful tool in your sales toolkit. If you want to take it one step further, you may want to pick up a copy of Craig Wortmann‘s book, “What’s Your Story?“. (Shameless plug alert.)
Storytelling doesn’t have to be all fluffy, warm, and cuddly. Stories carry impact, create influence, and establish valuable connections. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
(For the corporate event planners out there, Sales Engine’s CEO, Craig Wortmann, conducts workshops and delivers speeches on how to use stories in the sales process.)