Remember the last big purchase you made?
Chances are, it was a story that closed the deal.
Stories engage us. They move us. And most importantly, they allow us to see ourselves in their characters. That’s why they’re such a powerful tool in the hands of salespeople.
Whether it’s a story about how you personally benefitted from what you sell, or the success stories of your customers, leveraging stories in your sales conversations doesn’t have to be left to chance.
To learn how to systemize the way we source, develop and leverage stories in our sales conversations, we sat down with Tom Jackobs, an Impact Pilot at JackobsEffect, Inc., and he shared a way for any salesperson to use stories to sell.
Since we’re trimming hope from our sales strategy, we’ll use the acronym TRIM to guide us through creating a system with a trigger, ensuring it’s repeatable, building in ways to improve it, and of course, ensuring it’s measurable and getting us results.
T – Trigger: To trigger this sales system, Tom recommends beginning before we’re in a sales conversation. Take the time to research the ‘pivotal moments’ your product or service solved – these are the moments either you or your customers had when you were struggling to solve the challenge or reach the next level in your life and business.
Those will form the foundation of the stories you can tee up in future conversations.
Next, you’ll want to identify the various types of prospects you’ll be speaking with. If you have prospects suffering from different challenges, you’ll want to ensure you have a story that addresses the ‘pivotal moment’ of someone who faced that challenge.
If your prospects all face the same challenge, then you can take a few different stories of how your product or service provided the solution and have them ready to deploy in your sales conversations.
R – Repeatable: To make this system repeatable during a sales conversation, you’ll want to identify the challenge your prospect is dealing with so you can share the story that most aligns with this prospect’s ‘pivotal moment’.
Next, enter story-telling mode. You’ll want to do this in a way that allows your prospect to see themselves as the hero in your story, so the closer you can align your character (whether it’s your story or a customer’s story) the better. That may mean finding a central character with a similar job title, challenge, company size, industry, etc.
Tom recommends not telling your story chronologically. Instead, begin with the ‘pivotal moment’, the moment of the biggest challenge or crisis. Where did failure seem most likely? When did they not see a way to overcome this challenge? Those are your pivotal moments.
Next, back up in your timeline and explain what got your character to that point. You can check in with your prospect and ask if they’re experiencing similar ‘precursor events’ to their own pivotal moment.
Now you get to share what you/your product/service did to help that character get past and overcome that challenge. Be sure to share the result. How did what you sell help your story’s character do things more/better/differently?
Finally, tie your story back to your prospect. Reference something you read about them/their company, or something they shared in a conversation, to help them understand that they can be the hero in a similar story if they take advantage of the solution you sell.
I – Improvable: Storytelling, like any skill, can be continually improved and refined. Tom recommends reviewing your sales calls to find where your prospects’ attention wavered while you were telling your story. This could indicate either a story that didn’t connect with them and their challenges, or it could mean you need to improve how you set up the conflict and resolution in your story.
M – Measurable: To ensure the effectiveness of your storytelling efforts, it is essential to establish measurable metrics that gauge its impact on your sales outcomes. Tom suggests tracking key performance indicators such as conversion rates, customer engagement, and feedback. Your prospects should be more receptive to your emails, phone calls and requests for meetings if they see you as someone who’s helped others like them overcome challenges.
Systemizing how you develop, select and share stories in your sales conversations ensures your prospects connect with the solutions you provide and see you as a partner in their journey to success.