THOUGHTS ABOUT SALES AND STRATEGY IN THE 21st CENTURY – Part 4 (Story Telling)
In the previous 3 installments of this series on sales strategies, we discussed the need to stay focused on the needs of the buyer, as well as the need to provide clarity through active listening. In this final installment of this series, we’ll look at story telling as a way to provide clarity. Obviously you’ll need to adapt the suggestions to your own situation, but hopefully you’ll be able to apply the principles to your own sales situations.
Let me start by telling you a story (try to read this as though it were being read to you):
|PICTURE THIS: You’re a little hungry so you reach for an apple on your way to your car to go to an important business meeting. Of course, you’re running late.|
– The apple is perfect! It’s ripe, red and juicy.
– As you bite into it, the texture is perfect – not too soft and not too firm – it’s just how you would expect the perfect apple to be.
– As you take the first bite and savor the texture, the sweet juice dribbles down your chin onto the front of your brand new suit that can only be dry cleaned.
– Then you quickly reach for a tissue and realize there are none in the car.
– Since you’re running late as usual there’s no time to go back into the house to get a cloth to clean the mess, so you use your hand to wipe the juice off the front of you, just as you drop the apple onto your lap and into your crotch.
– What does this all mean? It means that you are in trouble because you’re going to this meeting looking like a complete slob!!
– You remember that you bought a new product from Amazon, it’s called the “Amazing Apple Juice Remover Cloth.” It’s a 6-inch square specially-treated cloth, always green in color, that is guaranteed to remove apple juice from clothing without needing water.
– You reach in the glove compartment, and there it is in its original wrapper.
– You unwrap it, and surprisingly it’s just a plain green cloth – completely dry with no sign of moisture or chemicals. But what the heck, you wipe your suit with it – and your crotch.
– And AMAZINGLY, the apple juice is immediately gone with no remnant of a stain.
You put the cloth back in the glove compartment, very pleased that you bought it, and you head on to your meeting with a perfectly clean suit including the crotch!
That’s obviously an extreme example of story telling but it does serve to highlight the important take-aways:
– Did you notice how you made a mental picture of the entire process, probably even including the RED apple and the GREEN cloth?
– Did you also notice that you most likely connected and empathized with the slob?
– Wouldn’t that make you think about buying this bit of snake oil? (After all, it is snake oil because there is no such thing as the “Amazing Apple Juice Remover,” no matter how good we make it sound!!) LOL
In the previous installments, we’ve been talking about sales and strategy, and the tools that will help to make you more successful in converting prospects to customers.
REMEMBER: None of this includes being pushy, exaggerating, or trying to make a hard-sell. It’s simply putting your products or services in the language that a prospective customer will listen and relate to.
Story telling is important because, as you saw in the example, most of us think in pictures and metaphors, and we try very hard to relate to the story. Those of you who are familiar with the Bible know that Jesus taught in parables – simple stories that portrayed very deep meaning, but were easy to understand, remember, and most importantly, to talk about and pass on to others! (And isn’t that what we want to see happen with our businesses?)
If a prospective client leaves the meeting with a clear mental picture of what success with you and your product will look like, you’ve made a home run!
WHAT KIND OF STORIES? Keep in mind that most buying decisions are made on the two basic emotions of pain and pleasure. If you’ve followed the advice in the previous installments, you should have a good idea of what is motivating the buyer, so that’s where you should focus. Again, this is not the place for overpromising, exaggerating, or being pushy. It’s simply a means of showing the buyer, in a format they can easily follow, why they should consider your product or service.
I think you get the idea. I can’t tell your stories for you, but the more colorful, compelling and SIMPLE the story is, the more successful you’ll be. And the more you do it, the easier it will become.