Everyone loves a story. It’s why movies are still big business and many of us spend hours on the couch binge-watching our favorite television shows. What’s important to keep in mind — and to remind your sales team — is that effective storytelling can also drive sales.
This doesn’t mean devising fanciful, fictional tales to entice customers and prospects into buying. Rather, it involves learning the customer or prospect’s story, putting it into words, and then demonstrating how your company’s products or services can add a happy chapter to the tale. Think of it as a three-act play:
Act I: Set the scene. Building rapport is key in sales. Find out from your sales manager(s) how much time sales staffers are spending with customers and prospects. Ensure they’re not rushing through initial contact. Salespeople should take the time to provide a concise overview of your business, telling its story and emphasizing its capabilities.
Act II: Build the plot. Salespeople should generally ask a series of prepared questions that prompt responses outlining the customer or prospect’s needs and goals. The potential buyer should do most of the talking. The more that salespeople listen, the better chance they’ll have in identifying and filling out the plot of the customer’s story and, one hopes, making the sale.
At this point, the sales staffer also wants to uncover any objections the customer or prospect might have about doing business with your company. These “subplots” can often go overlooked and ultimately ruin the ending of the story for you.
Act III: Resolve the problem. The final scene should be a climactic one. The salesperson needs to summarize the customer or prospect’s story — identifying the key needs revealed by the questions asked. Then, the sales staffer must present a viable solution to meeting those needs and emphasize your company’s ability to efficiently fulfill the products ordered or provide the necessary service(s).
When executed properly, the three acts above should increase the odds for an encore (or a sequel, as the case may be). Buyers who know that your business understands their story will be more likely to become return customers.
Although using storytelling as a sales tool may seem simplistic, it’s a tool that needs sharpening from time to time. We can help you evaluate your sales process from a financial perspective so you can implement changes as necessary.