Storytelling Success: Why Some Reps Are Dynamite and Some Aren’t

May 9, 2018 Emily Meyer

Storytelling for sales professionals

We have spent the last two blogs (A New Framework to Level Up Your Meeting Opening and 4 Ways to Ask Better Probing Questions in Sales) laying the foundation for providing insight into our product and services. This blog talks all about storytelling for sales professionals and how you can WOW your prospects with your sales pitch.

We cover the following:

1) Your demo/sales pitch is only half as important as your story. 
2) My go-to framework for the initial sales deck. 
3) How to weave a story using this framework.
4) How to leave out the boring stuff but focus on the value.

A lot of sales reps think that the most important part of the meeting is the demo/sales pitch. Therefore it takes up the most time. I often see sales reps go wall-to-wall on an hour-long call. They demo every feature/function within their application without slowing down to take a breath!

Your Demo/Sales Pitch Is Only Half as Important as Your Story

It often feels like a race to pump in as much information as possible. The demo/sales “pitch” should actually be purposefully curated. The last thing you want to do is show everything and then not have any reason to meet again. Also, there is only so much information your prospect can absorb on a first call.

Tailor your sales pitch down to no more than 25 minutes in total (sales deck and demo combined).

When designing a sales deck and sales demo at any new company I join, I always use a fundamental framework.

The sales deck and demo should always tell a compelling STORY, anchored with the unique differentiator of your solution.

I’ll say that again! It should tell a compelling STORY, anchored with the unique differentiators of your solution.

My Go-To Framework for the Initial Sales Deck

As salespeople, we often forget about how people learn. Since the beginning of time, life lessons and knowledge has always been passed down through stories. You see this in hieroglyphics, children’s fables and of course the Bible. Stories are a way that people and humans can connect at a more personal level.

Therefore, it needs to be at the forefront of how we sell, demo or walk through a sales deck. My go-to framework for the initial sales deck looks like this:

  1. Why our company/product exists (it’s often the story of why the CEO invented the solution to solve a personal need)
  2. How people have tried to solve this problem in the past and why it hasn’t worked
  3. How/Why our solution solves the problem in a unique way
  4. Any additional items that help to prevent confusion or unnecessary questions (like explaining the data architecture etc.)

How to Weave a Story Using This Framework [Example]

All of these components allow you to weave in your unique differentiators and set yourself up to easily answer why you’re different from your competition.  

For example, I once was selling an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) platform. By using the above framework, I was able to talk about the big problem our CEO had trying to grow his business by 20% in the early 2000s.

1) Describe the opportunity

I articulated how he knew there was tremendous opportunity in making the most of the organic search channel. And also how it was challenging. I explained the level of effort and time it was taking to pull data from all the “siloed” tools available for SEO at the time.

In a very interesting story, I weaved in (intentionally) the same pain points that the prospect had articulated to me earlier in the meeting during my discovery/questioning time.

2) Align this with the prospect’s pain point

From there, I discussed why folks often chose different digital channels like Paid Per Click or Social Channels because they were easier and showed ROI clearly. (Those happened to be the same channels the prospect had told me that they were investing in.)

3) Address your prospect’s concerns along the way

I then talked about how folks who had tried to leverage organic search had failed because they needed multiple tools to accomplish minimal SEO. (Again weaving in the answer they gave me earlier on why they were nervous to invest in SEO).

4) Tie it all back down to your product

Finally, I spoke about how my product was going to save the day. With my product, using the powerful organic search channel was easy—it brought together all aspects of SEO technology into one synced place.

And because of this, the prospect could easily hit their growth goals with the SEO channel. It was compelling, and I sold a lot of software setting up my sales engagements that way.

Leave Out the Boring Fluff, Focus on the Value

Notice that nowhere in that story did I say how many customers we have or where our offices were located. 9/10 sales decks I see start with those two items and boy, are they BORING!

At the end of the day, the prospect doesn’t want to know how many customers or offices you have but rather how you’re going to help them get promoted or look good internally.

Yes, there will definitely be a time and place to talk about the stability of your company or the caliber of customers that you have. But leave that for another meeting.

Play with bold statements and analogies

Now it’s time to hit your demo (if applicable). Just like before, we want to tell an interesting story that weaves in the prospect’s goals and pains.

I always start with a bold statement like:

“This is XYZ Platform and it was designed to bring together all aspects of SEO into one place so that you easily digest the insights and quickly make changes to your website to drive meaningful results in the near term.”

I then like to frame up the demo as “a day in the life”. For example, saying:

“I like to think about SEO as a gardening analogy. If you want to get good tomatoes at the end of the season you need to start with good seeds and soil and that’s exactly what keyword selection is all about. Planting your seeds and soil. Keyword selection is simple with XYZ platform and here’s why..”

I continue to weave through the demo in that same manner. Showing the most compelling aspects of the tech and tying it back to the prospect’s business goals always work.

The analogies are often simple and a little silly. But prospects were able to easily pick up often complex topics and nuances in the application that made it unique and powerful.

Again, this method is very effective. I challenge you to take on an exercise and create an analogy for every complex or compelling part of your solution. Now you might not use all of those analogies in one demo, but they are extremely powerful in creating a story out of your product and demo for subsequent meetings.

Leave your product deep-dive for the follow-up meeting

The one last tactical note I will leave you with is being thoughtful at only showing 10-15 minutes worth of product in a first meeting. You want to end your call saying that you did not get to everything and that you will need to set up another call.

We have to leave our audience on the edge of their seat wanting more. Check out the next blog in this series on how to close your meeting!

The post Storytelling Success: Why Some Reps Are Dynamite and Some Aren’t appeared first on Sales Hacker.

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