An effective sales story (or messaging) changes everything. And I mean everything.
Your “story” is your most critical sales weapon partly because your “story” ends up in all of your other weapons. Think about it. Your LinkedIn profile has elements of your story. Your prospecting emails and proactive phone calls use pieces from your story. So do voicemails. Sales calls. Presentations. Demos. Proposals. All of the sales weapons contain elements and talking points from your story. So isn’t it worth asking?
Is your story compelling?
Unfortunately, most salespeople’s and company’s stories are not compelling. They’re often boring. The main reason they’re boring? They are self-focused – way too oriented around the company and the offering/solution, instead of around what’s on the mind of the client/prospect.
During workshops when I ask salespeople to do an exercise that puts them in a position where they need to tell part of their story to a prospective customer, below is an assortment of the types of talking points sellers typically share:
“We provide ______________.”
“We’re privately held and have been in business X years.”
“We are the largest Y in our space.”
“Our unique processes…”
“We have the widest assortment, most experience, best____, blah, blah, blah”
“Our solution is…”
What’s wrong with each/all of these talking points? In and of themselves, nothing. But as the lead-in to your sales story, a lot. The biggest issue is that the entire focus is wrong!
Salespeople (and marketing people for that matter) should ask two critical questions after every “story statement” they make to a prospect:
- So what?
- Who cares?
Most sales pitches/elevator speeches/half-baked value propositions do the opposite of what we want them to. Instead of attracting the customer, these pathetic sales stories repel them. Tired of self-absorbed sellers, the moment a buyer hears the all-too-common “we do this, we do that, we’re the best” they are turned off and their defense shields go up.
Here’s the harsh truth: Customers don’t care what you do or how great you think your company/solution is. They want to know what’s in it for them. Feel free to quote me. I pretty much say that everyday to someone.
If you want to get the prospect to lower their defenses and invite you in for a dialogue…if you’d like them to perceive you as a professional problem-solver, value-creator, and maybe even as an expert or consultant, then stop leading with what you and your company do, and start your story with the issues already on their mind!
A compelling sales story leads with the issues you address for your customers:
- their pains that you remove
- their problems that you help solve
- the opportunities you help them capture
- the new, better results and outcomes your solution helps achieve
I promise you: An effective sales story changes everything. STOP leading with what you do and START your story with a handful of the compelling issues you address for clients/customers. When you do that well, everything changes.
If you’d like some help crafting a sharper, compelling, client-issue-focused, differentiating story, check out Chapter 8 in New Sales. Simplified. It might be the most popular chapter in the book, and not only will it walk you through an exercise to make your story more compelling, it also provides examples of other stories to help you draft yours.
Speaking of books and the importance of your story…
Over the next month or so, three incredibly valuable, very different sales books are being released from top-notch authors. I’m beyond honored to have been asked to contribute the forewords to two of them and the introduction to the other. As each book approaches its release date, I’ll do a full post for each because I believe you will greatly benefit from all three. I certainly have. For now, here’s a teaser in case you want to put in a pre-order, and look for more on these future bestsellers soon:
‘Sell with a Story’ by Paul Smith takes one of my favorite topics to an entirely new level. Paul shows you how top sellers use stories and storytelling in all phases of the sales process, and he provides super-practical tools to help you draft and power-up your stories, too. You’ll love this highly entertaining book, too, because, wait for it, it’s full of great stories!
‘High-Profit Prospecting’ from Mark Hunter is going to help you make your pipeline of sales opportunities fatter and healthier. Mark knocks down the bogus straw men and myths that prospecting doesn’t work, and offers powerful, clear, actionable tips to help you find and create more leads – and to do it in a way that protects your image and enhances your profit. Phenomenal book!
Anthony Iannarino is my #1 Go-To Sales Guru and ‘The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need’ might be the most comprehensive sales book written in the last decade. It shares the truth about who wins big in sales, why they win, and how they do it. He shows us that sales success is not situational, it’s about the seller. And he shares who you need to become and what you must do to win consistently.