How story-telling can enhance the sales process
In a consultative B2B environment we are often faced with a formidable situation when we are selling the invisible. There is no physical product we can showcase when we are prospecting on the phone and we are challenged to connect with a prospect in a short period of time. Telling stories and sharing best practices gives us an opportunity to communicate a business objective in a fashion where people can relate.
Once upon a time… From a very early age on I was fascinated by fairy tales and stories. As a grown-up I’ve come to appreciate how Story-Telling can be an essential benefit in a consultative sales environment. My experience has shown how it helps you connect with your prospects. And it is a great way to add value rather than pushing a feature or a benefit.
Remember 1,001 Arabian Nights?
When I was a kid I loved the idea of people gathering in a tent or square and listening to stories. Still to this day I remember my family’s dinner parties best where people were telling stories, sharing, laughing, showing compassion or just simply cracking a joke. As children growing up, it’s fairy tales and stories that help shape our thinking. They trigger our imagination and fuel our creativity. As adults, it’s not that different. We are always drawn to stories that we can relate to.
When I started out in sales, I had come from a public relations/marketing background with no credentials in sales so I decided to do what I liked best – listening to stories. I researched case studies and told my prospects about the success that other companies had when using our service. It worked!
Because people like to listen to stories that they can relate to themselves. Product features or benefits are boring to many people unless they can directly establish a use for them to their advantage. Nobody wants to listen to you bragging about your company, your service, how good you are, etc. What people are interested in is what your service can do for them and how it will help their business.
If you don’t have something to show, share a story
In a B2B environment you often don’t have a product to show and you need to rely on a verbal presentation and anecdotes to get people interested. This is especially true when you first engage with a prospect unless they know your company and service. The key question is “What value does the service or solution you offer provide to your clients?”
What better way to explain than sharing success stories?!
Why is it easier to sell a story than a product or service?
Rather than selling a service, focus on the value it brings to the client and the human experience. Instead of selling a service that is “better”, offer a solution that, for example, helps increase efficiencies, saves money or helps your client make money. Especially in a consultative sales environment, once we are able to tap into somebody’s emotion, and understand what triggers their interest and what their needs are, it’s a lot easier to connect. Never forget that it is human beings you are targeting. Although you are trying to sell them something, you are also an advisor, a consultant in the true sense, a resource to help them make the right decision. The right decision for your prospect or client will be the right decision for you as well.
When telling stories, it is important that you own those stories and make them yours. Be personal, just like at a dinner conversation. But first, listen to your prospects, find out what their real needs and pain points are, and then choose a case study/story that you think will resonate with their needs. I can assure you that your prospects will listen.