There are a number of factors that set top sales people apart from the rest, but the most frequent is that they are great storytellers. A great story captivates and connects with people. A great story from a top sales person has points that are not pitched, but are shared through relevant anecdotes and relatable accounts; therefore, the sales are all about the stories you can tell.
The most effective and experienced sales people most likely have a stash of these stories tucked away to pull out at different times during a conversation with a customer. It is completely natural for them. Their conversation is effective because they know what story to tell and how to tell it.
What would it look like with a whole sales team who have their own stash of stories with skills to share them? To start this up, you need to create a system for capturing these stories and publishing them into a format that is easy for each team member on your sales team to re-tell them.
Here are some different formats that were used in a B2B environment:
“One of our customers, [company name] a [type of company] first came to us because [brief description of critical issue]. It was causing [consequences] and affecting [people/ departments/functions affected by the issue].
They had tried dealing with it by [previous unsuccessful initiative, if one existed], but had struggled because [reason why previous attempts had failed].
Working with their [key sponsor’s role], we helped them implement [brief description of our key capabilities] that allowed them to [brief description of benefits]. But that wasn’t all – as a further unexpected benefit they found they were also able to [unexpected benefit]” (www.inflexion-point.com).
This format starts the story by setting a scene that the customer can relate to. There is a problem or need for change. Establishing this gives way to the help your company is able to offer. Then to top it off, you can add a memorable additional benefit. In this way the customer understands that you are sharing a story from your company’s combined experience.
Remember all of these elements do not have to be included into your story; they are simply a guideline to get you started. The final story produced should sound natural and not like a stiff script. This format is the framework that helps you develop a memorable and powerful story.
Developing a number of different stories and categorizing them will enable your team to identify ones that are the most appropriate for each circumstance. Practicing with one another can also develop skills for story telling. Have your sales team role-play with one another, to help them naturally and powerfully respond in a conversation. By practicing within the team and organizing a format, they are well on their way to becoming effective sales people.
Chelsea Jensen, Prospectr Marketing