Water Well Journal

May 2016

Water Well Journal

Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/668983

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Page 57 of 77

S potlight, this year's Oscar Award winner for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture, proved yet again a good story told well can pay big dividends. Storytelling can pay big dividends in your sales conversa- tions and presentations as well when you follow a few rules. The first rule is critical to the success of your story—be crystal clear why you are telling a story. Stories used solely as attention-grabbers lead nowhere, waste valuable time, and try the patience of busy prospects. While it may work in everyday conversation, a sales conver- sation is not an everyday conversation. A sales conversation on the phone or in person is a pur- poseful, heightened communication and every element, in- cluding a story, should be tied to the reason you are engaging in the conversation with your prospect. This may be to solve a problem, explore an opportunity, or overcome an obstacle to doing business together. Should a story also grab your prospect's attention and entertain? Of course it should. But you have to start with the why. Many times sellers start with the story and then try to retrofit it to their objective, which often misses the mark entirely. Consider the movie Spotlight. Do you suppose writers Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy wanted to entertain audiences? Sure. Did they hope to win an Oscar? Of course. But there was a deeper, more compelling reason to tell the story than just selling tickets and winning a little gold man. They wanted to shed light on the Catholic Church scandal and subsequent cover-up from the eyes of reporters tracking the case. This clear focus on purpose made for a compelling story that ended up drawing audiences in by the millions and, an added bonus, winning Oscars for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture. If you start with a clear purpose for telling your story in sales, ideas will flow naturally and it will help you craft a story that moves the sale forward. Here are five great reasons to tell a story to a prospect. To challenge a perception or belief Say you find yourself in front of a prospective buyer who has been using your competitor's product for years and believes—incorrectly, you feel—it's superior to yours. To approach this kind of resistance head-on is often a losing strategy. Rarely will you hear "Thank you for correcting me" when you tell someone they're wrong. In fact, prospects are more likely to shut down and draw a bigger line in the sand. The right story, however, can soften a hardened position and open a prospective customer's mind to a different per- spective. For example, telling a personal story about a firmly held belief you once had and how you discovered it was inac- curate allows someone else to re-evaluate and re-form their opinion without feeling like their arm is being twisted. To simplify a complex idea Many products and services today have intricate features or processes. If you make your product sound too complicated, your prospect may get overwhelmed and tune out. Using an analogy in story form where you compare your product to something simple is an effective way to make what your product or service does quickly understandable to your prospective buyer. Say you're selling a new drill rig to a buyer. There are many advantages for them to consider over their older rig, and some of the advantages are technical. Consider an example of a story to highlight the advantage of using the latest technology. "I had an old flip phone I loved. For the longest time I re- sisted upgrading to a smartphone. But while the old phone allowed me to make calls and send emails, I started to realize all the things I was missing. I still needed a camera to take pictures. I had to get on my laptop to use a map or download documents. I needed a bunch of tools to do the same job a new phone can do quickly and easily. Much like moving to a new phone made me more efficient in my job, a new rig that can perform efficiently and move easily from site to site allows you to be more effective at what you do." Comparing the advantages of what your product does to something more familiar helps your prospect grasp a concept that sometimes may be hard to understand and identify clear advantages. To address an objection Sales isn't always a smooth ride and preparing your sales call or presentation should include a strategy for addressing possible objections. A story is one way to effectively diffuse an objection. Whether it's about a service or feature you don't provide or a question relating to price, having a well-crafted story specific to that objection ahead of time is a handy tool to have in your back pocket. JULIE HANSEN ACT LIKE A SALES PRO START WITH WHY Five good reasons for telling a story in sales. waterwelljournal.com 54 May 2016 WWJ

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