We all love a good story, our brains are hard-wired for them. We especially like a story that we can relate to, ends well, and ultimately helps us solve our own challenges.
The goal of any good, persuasive conversation is to transform your prospect into a customer. You want to get them to move from one state to another. But first, you need to know where you are moving them from to where you are taking them to. For instance, suppose you want to take your audience that is currently resisting something to trying what you are offering. Perhaps you want to make them go from simple awareness about your product to actually buying it, or you want to take doubters and turn them into believers.
Within a sales conversation, consider using a variety of stories to show the client how trying your product made a difference for someone just like them. By telling a “past-win” story to a current prospect with a similar conflict, not only is the prospect able to see a possible resolution to his problem, it clearly demonstrates your ability to assist him and garner similar Hero results for him.
Your next sales conversation should include all of the elements of a great story.
- Start with a relatable character (a person or company).
Paint an example that parallels your potential client, but think impressionism. Specifics create less relate-ability, not more. Avoid using dollar amounts, size, scale or age. If you are talking to a prospect who owns a 75 million dollar company and you say, “I was working with a CEO of a billion dollar company…” you create distance. If you are talking to a prospect with 1000 employees and you refer to a company with 100, your prospect will wonder if you really “get” her world. Focus on the overall comparison, especially when all of the details have yet to be revealed. “I was working with a CEO, just like you, who was struggling with distribution inefficiencies as well…”
- Easily and quickly set up the conflict or circumstance.
Less is more. Why use 5,000 words when 50 will do? Rehearse how to phrase the conflict you solve in a single sentence. Maybe two. Think snapshot. Suppose you were trying to show a CEO as older, exhausted, not eating right, and on the brink of divorce. You could take four separate pictures of him, one of him entering the donut shop, one of him sitting in a therapist’s office, one of him inspecting his hair loss, one of him resting on a park bench, etcetera. Or, you could take one shot of him at his desk, with his hand running through his thinning hair, a half eaten donut on a napkin, his shirt unable to be buttoned at the middle, his shoulders hunched over, and his computer monitor revealing a marriage counseling website. One snapshot – all the important elements included.
- Explain how you resolved the conflict.
Share specifically what action you, your team, or your company took to solve the situation. Add anything unique or proprietary about your approach that no one else can offer. Insert differentiators. If your competitors’ service offerings take on average 6 weeks in the industry, then you can say, “In just 4 weeks we installed our proprietary software system…”
- Share the positive, tangible results.
Time? Money? Efficiencies? Close your story with the satisfying outcome that you delivered as a direct result from your product or service. Here again, avoid specifics unless you truly know you are comparing apples to apples. If you saved your last company $10,000 on marketing costs, but your current prospect spends $10,000 on a client dinner, you’ve just created more distance. If you helped grow a company 1M in sales, avoid the 1M and use a percentage instead so that your prospect can imagine her own dollar equivalent. “Last year, after only using our product for 3 months, our client grew by 12%…”
Want to be persuasive and sell more?! Use stories that closely match where your prospect is currently, where s/he wants to go, and how you help them close this gap with your product or service.
What previous client stories do you have in your arsenal? What fabulous tangible results can you share with potential clients that not only demonstrate your expertise, but are also very relatable to your target audience? We all connect best with people and situations that parallel our own lives. That reminds me, “Just last month I worked with a client and helped the entire sales team handle objections quite profitably…”
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