These days, you cannot hope to keep an audience listening to you if you don’t include stories. Businesses are full of stories; how the product was designed, how the founders started, what the market wants ….. You just have to know how to tell it. Here is the essential guide.
- Plan your story starting with the takeaway message. Think about what’s important to the audience. The ending is the most important point of the story. This is the message we want to deliver, and the one that will linger with the audience.
- Keep your stories short for the workplace. Three to five minutes long is about what people can digest in today’s ADD world.
- Good stories are about challenge or conflict. Without these elements, stories aren’t very interesting. The compelling part of a story is how people deal with conflict–-so start with the people and the conflict.
- Think about your story like a movie. Imagine you are screenwriter with a goal to get your message across. The story has to have a beginning, middle, and end
- Start with a person and his challenge, and intensify human interest by adding descriptions of time, place, and people with their emotions.
- Be creative. A good story always has ups and downs, so “arc” the story. Pull people along, and introduce tension, just like in a fairy tale. (“From out of nowhere, the wolf jumps onto the path…”)
- Intensify the story with vivid language and intonation. Tap into people’s emotions with language. Use metaphors, idioms, and parables that have emotional associations.
Most of us have not told stories in front of an audience since English class in high school. So you will need to practice.
Good old-fashioned selling is out of fashion. More than that. Selling is almost as off trend as a long playing vinyl record, a fax machine or a pair of 1990’s Nikes.
In between then and now the internet changed many things. Today in the age of wearable devices the information asymmetry – meaning that the sellers had all the info and the buyers had much less – is on the way out.
Caveat Emptor – let the buyer beware – is a phrase from a sad old time when Google could not help us find out where the best/most advanced/cheapest solution lies.
Ask yourself – or anyone – this simple question. Do you like being sold to? Bet your bottom dollar that the answer is “no”. In sales we are trained to welcome no’s in that crazy numbers game that leads to the statistically magical yes. But this “No to being sold to” is a flat no and it comes from everyone , because, as it turns out , we really don’t like it.
Ask though if people mind being in a conversation where someone is asking about their needs and they will give you a “yes” – particularly if they need to decide which complicated piece of technology they should buy.
The real question is why did we ever think anything else.
And so Inside Sales, Technical Sales and Sales Executives in a technology company should rewrite the Sales Playbook to make sure that in every situation you ask yourself 3 very simple questions which we summarise as the 3 Ps: Pain, Purpose & People.
1. What is on your customer’s mind? PAINS
2. What do you want to do ( in the Sales Cycle)? PURPOSE
3. What do you want them to think and feel about you ? PEOPLE
That way every thought, plan and conversation will be focused around the customer and then the selling has a good chance of taking care of itself.
A favorite enterprise software client had us in to inspire and empower their Sales Team and the whole company and boy was it inspiring !
Peter Maltz drew out the company’s strategy going forward while Susan Fisher jolted the whole sales team into giving the performance of their lives.
It’s a company to watch and we really enjoyed watching.
Listening and Probing to find out your customer’s real needs are two of the most important sales skills. Those techniques rely heavily on open-ended questions.
These are the questions that cannot be answered properly by one word answers ( no yes and no’s !) , and so they help you to find out the customer’s business situation, real interests as well as letting you establish the connect with the client.
Establishing rapport, trust & credibility
What would you like to see improved?
What kind of challenges are you facing?
What’s the most important priority to you with this? Why?
What other issues are important to you?
How do you measure that?
What prompted you/ your company to look into this?
What are your expectations/ requirements for this product/ service?
How do you see this happening?
What is it that you’d like to see accomplished?
With whom have you had success in the past?
With whom have you had difficulties in the past?
Can you help me understand that a little better?
How does that process work now?
What challenges does that process create?
What challenges has that created in the past?
What are the best things about that process?
What other items should we discuss?
Moving further in the Sales process
What do you see as the next step?
What is your timeline for buying/ purchasing this type of service/ product?
What other information would it be useful for us to know before moving forward?
What budget has been established for this?
What are your thoughts?
Who else is involved in this decision?