U.S. astronomer Cliff Stoll learned after he turned to teaching that it takes more than compelling statistics to shed insight. “I thought all I had to do was show people the data and they would understand. But it doesn’t work. You have to tell a story,” he once said. Such sage advice applies to sales professionals as much as stargazers.
Being able to convey the value of a solution in easily understood and remembered terms is a skill every sales rep should master. Not only does great storytelling build interest in your products or services, it also builds interest in you as a trusted advisor. And that credibility is fundamental to making and maintaining long-term relationships with customers.
A great, succinct story peppered with a salient point can get you “in the door” – even if that opening is most likely a response to your email or voice message. This story must quickly connect the value your company can deliver to a business issue a prospect faces and must be relayed in a compelling way. Carefully crafted messaging starts with relevant research and then skilled delivery of a “been there, solved that” story shows you are worth their time.
What should your story include to make a great credibility introduction?
- A brief business description of your company told in terms that appeal to a prospect’s interests or needs. There are obvious needs and then there are those that differentiate you from a competitor. For instance, if you sell hospital-grade medical equipment, you might home in on the importance of solutions built to withstand repetitive daily use and rigorous sanitation protocols.
- Problems, challenges or opportunities that create the need for your solution, product or service. Using the same example, you can cite how health care facilities (regionally, nationally or globally) have suffered economic losses and damaged reputations from hospital-borne infection outbreaks.
- Measurable impact or value of solving, improving, changing said problems or challenges. For that medical manufacturer, you can tout how your construction and materials contribute to infection control.
- A transition to requesting time to together to explore if a partnership might bring resolution to those challenges.
It’s one thing to craft a compelling story and quite another to deliver it (and, of course, deliver on it). Remember to spend time reading your story aloud. When we read, we actually “hear” our thoughts. Not to mention we recite and retell stories in actual conversations, where cadence is crucial. Practice, practice, practice and, in turn, your storytelling will make you appear both confident and credible to those busy executives you want to engage.
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