Curiosity and common ground. Those are two ingredients for helping prospects break their autopilot behavior. How?
Help them imagine what your product or service will do for them. You put them into the story and have them experience it. We’re all able to project ourselves into some future circumstance. As we imagine it, we begin to feel it. It becomes our new experience. New thoughts and beliefs can begin to form, too. Consider all that when you’re thinking of connecting with your prospects.
Marketing and sales (yes, I know they’re different, but for our purposes I’m lumping them into one big bucket because this is all about storytelling AND it’s about establishing a relationship of trust with people) – is largely about being able to predict the future experience for your prospects. You want to help them imagine themselves in the story. The more you can make that story come alive, the easier it will be for them to see themselves experiencing your product or service. The experiences generate real feelings and emotions that will drive people to choose your offer. The more valid and real those emotions, the more the prospect (now customer) will believe it.
The process isn’t easy, but it’s fairly simple. We have to get the prospect’s attention. If we’re unable to break the autopilot experience of the prospect, then we’re doomed. But once we do that, we have to tell our story involving the prospect and let them buy.
Stop pushing water up the hill.
Anybody with any sales experience has done it. Tried too hard. Pushed too hard. We’ve also done the opposite. Failed to push at all. Neglected to even ask the person to buy. We’re making it harder than it has to be.
Each of us tells stories. Let’s think about the stories we tell ourselves. In our head. We all do it.
These stories determine how we see the world and our place in it. So as we’re approaching telling a story to our prospects we must keep in mind they’re telling themselves a story before we ever arrive. What story are they telling? You should know. Or at least have some idea.
It’s ideal to get the prospect to share their story. This is where marketing and sales are very different. Marketing is your story being told to people. Usually at some scale. Selling is you listening to the story of your prospect, sharing your story and finding out what really matters most to the prospect so you can dazzle them with a positive experience with your product or service.
Questions. Those are among the most productive tools in selling. How else are you going to learn about the prospect? How else are you going to hear their story?
You can devise your own series of questions, but they can be best summed up with one phrase: tell me more. If you haven’t put in the time to devise great questions for your sales process, then you’re failing to achieve all you should. Don’t leave it to chance. Don’t leave it to an individual team member’s prowess. Craft an effective process that produces predictable results.
Questions like, “Give me a bit of background. How did you get here?” can get the prospect in storytelling mode. It can begin a good dialogue, which is what you’re after. So when you ask, LISTEN. Carefully.
“Tell me more about what you want to accomplish.”
“What are the hurdles you need to clear before you can execute?”
Figure out the best questions that can help get your prospects sharing their stories. Coach and train your employees to listen and effectively engage in sharing your company story by incorporating the prospects’ stories. Your story has to be congruent with the story the prospect tells. If there’s a disconnect, you’re done. And there might be valid reasons for that. Not every prospect is fit for our stuff. Nobody sells everybody. It’s okay.
Paint the picture. Lose the technical jargon, except as it relates to the audience – engineers can speak effectively with other engineers, etc. Your story can’t be some sterile affair. It’s got to convey emotions. Don’t be afraid to go deeper into explaining how decisions like these need to be made, and how others are making decisions successfully.
Share how others have benefited. Social proof is important.
Good stories have a moral. Have one. Make the ending where there’s a logical next step – one your prospect can clearly see and agree with.
Attention. That’s the name of the game. It’s about getting the attention of your prospect, but it’s about showing them the attention they crave. To understand how people buy is to understand that we’re all telling ourselves stories. Everybody craves being able to tell themselves a better story. That’s what creates our desire for something different, something more or something else. Spend whatever time you must to craft better stories that involve your prospects. Get better at helping your prospects see themselves having a better experience.
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