Biz Tips: 5 Stories Every Salesperson Should be Prepared to Tell

Biz Tips: 5 Stories Every Salesperson Should be Prepared to Tell

Biz Tip:

5 Stories Every Salesperson Should be Prepared to Tell

Stories are a powerful selling tool, but rarely is one story right for every situation or customer. To be successful in a dynamic marketplace, there are 5 types of stories every salesperson should be prepared to tell in a pitch or presentation. Here is a brief description, example and tips on where and when to use each type of story:

1. Your Organization Story

This is your company’s unique origin story, shedding light on the problem you solve and why. A compelling, succinct founding story can humanize your company and offer a fresh perspective into your values and purpose.

Tips: Keep it under a minute. Company stories are inherently less engaging than other types of stories so keep it tight by picking one story line and highlighting a few key details.

Don’t lead with your organization story. Your opening should be focused on your customer (like the other 4 types of stories) and not you. Save your company story for when you are asked or when it helps to support other key points in your presentation.

Example: A company selling secure bike lights was launched because a friend of the founder had his bike light stolen and then was hit by a car coming home. That’s a powerful backstory for why the company is in business and the types of problems they solve.

2. Customer Story

A good case study or customer testimonial is a powerful tool to have in any pitch. After all, a customer who has benefited from your product or service has much more credibility with a prospect, especially initially, than a vendor or salesperson.

Tips: Select a customer who has experienced a similar situation, challenge, or goal. Demonstrate outcomes. This speaks directly to what your prospect can expect from working with you. Hone your story to stand out. As the story most likely to be told by a salesperson, you need to make sure your story is polished and engaging.

3. Business Story

Using a story about a business or industry that is unrelated to your customer’s business can provide surprising insights into problems, solutions or opportunities.

Tips: Look for businesses who have experienced a similar challenge or opportunity. Everyone knows the cautionary tale of Blockbuster and Blackberry – companies who failed to adapt to the future – so try to find something less widely known. Or give a new twist to something familiar.

Example: Fiji water is sold in a unique square shaped bottle. Many people think this was a marketing effort to set them apart from competitors. In fact, this new design proved to be a less expensive way to ship water as more bottles could be packed in a case. A story like this makes sense if you’re selling a creative solution to a prospect who is hesitant to break from the status quo.

4. Analogy or Metaphor

A story that compares something new to something familiar is a quick and effective way to help your customer understand a new technology or capability. Analogies are also useful for softening any beliefs or misconceptions your customer may have.

Tips: To find the right analogy topic, focus on what your key message is (i.e., growth, accuracy, safety, etc.) Make sure your audience will quickly understand your analogy, otherwise you will then have two concepts to explain!

Example: A solution that is convenient and can be used in multiple situations might be compared to a Swiss Army Knife. A product that provides insights and recommendations could be compared to Siri.

5. Personal story

Drawing on your own personal experience to make a point or shed light on a subject can be very powerful and highly memorable. Unlike most business-based stories, personal stories can help form a stronger emotional connection with your customer.

Tips: Know your audience. There may be customers or businesses where a personal story is inappropriate. (Caution: Don’t use this as a general excuse, as there are fewer of these than you think!) People are human and most respond to a tight, well-told, purposeful personal story. Focus on why you’re telling the story. It can be easy to meander in a personal story so be disciplined. Stick to the point and when you’re done, stop.

Example: “I thought I’d save some money by going with a newer real estate agent. After three failed offers, I finally went with a proven agent. He helped me price it correctly and put my house in front of more potential home-buyers. It sold in 3 weeks for $10,000 over the asking price. Like that experienced realtor, we can help you avoid costly mistakes and make sure you get in front of as many potential customers as possible.”

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