Storytellng for Sales Professionals

by Bates, Suzanne Friday, December 04, 2009
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If you want to be successful in sales you know what you need to do.

• Find out what the customer wants.
• Create a high value proposition for the customer.
• Give the customer what they want.

Step one is what trips up most sales people.

Why?

They never find out what they customer REALLY wants.

We are so focused on selling what we need to sell and making our numbers that we fail to do the things that will help us truly deeply understand our customers. We need to engage them in a robust dialogue.

These days it’s hard to get a meeting so when you do, you’d better be prepared to engage. Ask questions that take the conversation to a deep level, and tell stories that provide context for and enlighten the customer about how to work with you.

When I say engage, I mean meaningful engagement. Telling jokes and asking people about their families is not selling. It’s a first step to building rapport. The next step is to engage the economic buyer in a meaningful conversation about business. Ask the right questions and relate stories that show them how you can provide value.

Let’s talk about stories.

I’m just back from the sales conference for a Fortune 100 company where I talked about engaging the customer in a dialogue and increasing sales through stories. Share a story about a solution you created for another customer and watch their eyes light up. If it is relevant, applicable, predictive and true, believe me they’ll be all ears.

Here’s the formula again: R.A.P.T. stands for:

Relevant - this sounds something like the challenge I face

Applicable - it may not be the same business or industry but the issues apply to my business too

Predictive - I see how that solution worked and it would work for us, as well

True - this isn’t just sales talk; I believe it really happened.

Once you have a story that passes the R.A.P.T. test what do you do with it?

OPEN THE DOOR WITH A STORY:

Start the meeting with a story that immediately engages the prospect and demonstrates what you might do for them. The well told story will lead to comments about their own situation. This gives you permissino to ask probing questions that a few minutes earlier might have felt intrusive. The story establishes your credibility, creates trust, and opens up a dialogue to real client issues.

CLOSE THE SALE

Rounding the corner during a meeting that’s going well is a perfect time to tell a story. If they’re interested but on the fence, a story is worth a thousand bullet points on features and benefits. Once they hear the story, and believe it’s true, they’re remember the story, and remember you. That’s the great differentiator. Now you have them thinking not just “this might work,” to “I believe it will work.”