As sellers, aren’t we always looking for an easier way to talk to buyers? We’re trying to find ways to make people WANT to listen to us amongst the crowded field of our competition and the thousands of messages our buyers are bombarded with every day.
There are so many details we want to convey about our products and services. We create presentations, brochures, proposals, demos, and websites to answer every possible question our customers could have. For buyers, it can be too much. They can do the research and read the numbers themselves. It’s no wonder they duck our calls, ignore our emails, or hide under the desk to avoid us.
Give them a more compelling reason to listen to you: Draw your customers in through stories.
Sharing stories appeals to both logic and emotion – and we prioritize emotion in decision-making. This happens because stories engage different parts of our brains than straight numbers or features. We also retain more details when we recall stories where facts and data are framed with context. Listeners grab hold of details that feel relevant and they’re able to connect to you – up to 65 to 70% retention versus 5 to 10% recall when listening to statistics.
So how do you use stories when selling?
Here are 4 places to share meaningful stories with your customers:
Context Proof – Sharing stories about similar clients you’ve worked with or people you have in common is a fantastic way to start building your credibility in prospecting and early “first impression” opportunities. As a sales rep, I leveraged my experience and the inside knowledge of my clients’ industry and shared specific stories about solutions I had created for clients in the same industries. It helped get cold calls returned when I left specific voicemails to HR Directors of fast food franchise companies detailing cost savings I’d achieved for similar companies on their training materials and manager handbooks. Clearly, I knew their business and created a credible, compelling reason to call me back.
Mission, Vision, or “The Why” – Your buyers and customers have more options for suppliers and vendors than ever before. With all products or solutions being relatively equal, buyers want to know the company they chose aligns with their values. Introducing your “soul story” to your customers helps them understand the culture, the operating philosophy, and what it’s like to work with you. There are thousands of great founder stories, from how Sarah Blakely created Spanx because she wanted her bum to look better in white pants, to how William E. Boeing created his aircraft company after crashing his plane and not being able to get replacement parts for months. The stories that set the foundation and paint the future of your business help your customers see the human side of your company instead of an amorphous entity.
Overcoming Challenges – Often times, if your product or solution is new to your buyer, it can be difficult for them to connect all the dots from the problem they have through how your solution resolves their problems. Sharing similar challenges from previous experiences and how you worked with your customers to tackle each phase of the problem can help your customers understand the exact process and see how they can be successful. Share how you lead the project, tell the story of the people issues, stumbling blocks, and how you rallied the resources to help your client win. These “hero stories” paint the picture with your customers at the center.
Process and Progress – Another opportunity to draw your potential customers closer is to share the story of “the process” with them. Draw them in with the people and the steps that they’ll take on their journey with you. How does it start? When they sign on, who is their team and what is their experience? Why are they going to enjoy this process? Can you share what others have experienced on their journey with you?
We listen to stories thousands of times every day. Stories are told in a moment with a meme, songs on the radio, news, commercials, Facebook posts, LinkedIn profiles . . . EVERYWHERE! This is how we feel connected to each other, express ourselves, and communicate concepts.
Think about the places where your stories can impact how your future customers see you and relate to you. When you bring customers closer, you can have better conversations, create more focused solutions, and build long-term relationships.
Until next time, stop hoping, start SELLING!
Shawn is the Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of The Selling Agency – a strategy firm that builds Competitive Advantages for Small, Mid-Sized Businesses and hungry Sales Teams that need to increase revenue and profitability. Her firm coaches sales teams and trains clients in mature, highly competitive, highly commoditized industries – deeply differentiate their offers and go-to-market strategy to profoundly connect with their customers.