Every great salesperson has a collection of compelling stories. Some stories illustrate positive outcomes from using their product or service. Other stories challenge the status quo by describing consequences of not benefitting from a product or service. Compelling Stories give comfort to the prospect showing how others have benefitted from your product or service.
How To Tell Compelling Stories
Think about all the selling success you have. Each one of them resulted in a prospect changing their behavior in favor of your product or service. And they benefitted from the change. When they purchased your product or service they saved money, improved performance, or avoided a negative consequence.
So tell the story from the point of view of a successful customer outcome. Describe the problem you solved, how your product or service was applied and the benefit the customer experienced. Use words to paint the picture in your prospect’s mind. The story has a beginning which sets the stage by illustrating the current situation. In the middle is how the “hero” (you or your team) took on the “dragon” (the current situation). A strong ending leaves your prospect desperate to hear how you will save them from the “dragon.” Every great salesperson has a personal style of telling compelling stories. So tell stories in your own words, cadence and tone.
Stories With A Positive Outcome
Compelling stories mostly show how the results of buying your product or service made the buyer’s situation better. Years ago I worked for a company which designed and sold equipment to recycle scrap metal. The same technology could be used for aluminum, iron and brass. And all of these scrap metals were contaminated with some sort of volatile material which had to be removed before remelting the metal to be used again. The contaminant had heat value. So our technology used the heat value of the contaminant to heat the scrap metal recovering usable metal and eliminating the undesirable impurities using very little purchased energy.
My story began with a description of all the negatives of having to deal with scrap metal. Then the cost of sending to a scrap dealer. The waste of time and money disposing of what could be reused if cleaned. Finally I transitioned to telling how others had benefitted. I used words like, improved profits, positive environmental image, reduced raw material costs, and competitive advantage in their marketplace. To close my story I used data from earlier conversations to paint the picture of how much better their company’s future would look by making the investment.
In the four sales pursuits I lead for this technology we won all of them. Two for aluminum beverage can recycling, one for brass scrap, one for steel mill scale. Each of them had a positive impact on the environment and the bottom line of the customer.
Stories With A Negative Outcome
Sometimes compelling stories work when they show the prospect what happens when they don’t use your product or service. Great salespeople are careful with negative outcome stories. The goal is not to frighten the prospect in to buying. But it is simply to show the hazard of not using your product.
When I sold safety products one of the devices in our product line was a meter to measure for hazardous gasses in a confined space like a tank or a manhole. In this case I borrowed stories. I used actual news accounts of workers who entered confined spaces without testing the atmosphere. Each of those stories told of the death of the worker and some even included the deaths of those attempting a rescue. All very compelling stories. I finished with the opportunity to have a meter to save lives of your colleagues.
What You Can Do Right Now Using Compelling Stories
- Think about how your products or services benefit your customers
- Which problems a prospect may have does your product or service solve?
- Write the story of how the “hero” slays the “dragon” to save the prospect.