3 Steps to Stories that Sell

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People will remember your stories before they remember your sales pitch.  ~ Gennia Holder

One of the best things about being a VP of Sales is being able to see the different styles that sales people utilize to deliver a message and overcome objections to a sale.

Over my career, I’ve seen hundreds of sales calls. Some have been great and some….well, let’s just say while the poor calls weren’t typically disasters (oh, but there have been some really bad ones) – as they did the job of delivering the features and benefits of the product – they just didn’t connect or get buy-in from the prospect and thus the sale fizzled and died.

In all my years of sales calls, here is the most important bit of information and the top stat I can share:
The top 1% of calls I’ve been on revolve around the sales person’s ability to tell a story that connected the client to the solution.

By telling a good story, you increase your chances of connecting with your audience and getting them to act.  Once you have the connection, your solution becomes REAL and they want to know how it can work for them.

Why do Stories Work?

Despite all of us believing we are “independent thinkers,” in truth we are greatly influenced by those around us – especially those in a similar circumstance. In his book, Influence, Robert Cialdini explains how this worked in a hotel that wanted to improve on the rate of guests reusing towels.  After several (failed) attempts of different messages to guests, they used this message:
A majority of people in this room have reused their towel’
This resulted in an INCREDIBLE 33% increase in reuse of towels by guests. Once guests understood that others at this hotel and in the room reused towels, that compelled them to follow suit.

Stories can also bring your product or service to life, as many of us are visual and tactical learners.  If someone tells us a good story, we can see and feel ourselves in the story and understand how you can make an improvement in our situation.

How to Tell a Good Story
Like any skill, storytelling takes time to perfect. However, there are some basic steps to telling a good one. Make sure your story has these three components:

1. Set the Scene – In other words, the who, what and why in your story. Be sure to clearly identify what the problem your subject is having and why that connects to your prospect.
If you don’t explain why the story is important, it may pass by without any effect.

2. Explain the Process – What role did you and your service play in helping your subject get the situation? How did you work with the customer to make it work? Imagery and detail is critical here as it paints the picture, but don’t ramble.
Being concise – yet detailed – will help you keep the attention of your audience and engaged.

3. Reveal the Payoff – How did your solution make thing better for your prospect? What are results now that they chose you? Tie the story back to your customer and offer a solution that will put them in a great position. Remember – this needs to tie to them PERSONALLY not the company (i.e. It quickly took away a complex issue that was otherwise going to take hours to fix).

People buy when they see the advantage for them and understand the “what’s in it for me”.

Do you have a way of telling a story that helps you in your sales?  What’s been your best sale from telling a good story?

Bill Morrow is a Managing Partner at Empirical Consulting Solutions. He is a seasoned sales leader with more than two decades of successfully driving growth in companies of all sizes – plus he is also always up for a good story.

Bill would love to swap stories, and is also on hand to answer any questions you. He is also happy to learn more about your situation – and he and the ECS team might be the fresh set of eyes you need to look at your company in a new light.

He and Laurel Cavalluzzo, ECS Marketing Lead, will hold a workshop on February 8th, 2018 in Berwyn, PA: “Are your Sales and Marketing Teams Aligned? Bridge the Gap to Strong Growth” (click here for more info and to register).

Connect with Bill or any other member of the ECS team at collaboration@thinkempirical.com or (610) 994-1139.