By AmyK. HUTCHENS
Just last December, Sharon, a harried CEO, shared that her executive team needed leadership training. With tighter profit margins, a faster pace, a growing customer base and more competitors, she needed her executive team to think, communicate, innovate and lead better, and… handle stress better.
The CEO was presented with five new core concepts about leadership. Impressed with the fresh thinking, she had the first concept introduced to her team. Within two weeks they were having shorter, more productive meetings, communicating more thoughtfully via email, addressing challenges more directly, working more collaboratively and… even smiling more. All this came about by being introduced to a few key tools and being guided on how to best use them within one core leadership competency. Imagine what might happen when they become familiar with and incorporate all five?!
This story was told to a potential new client who was in a similar situation, wondering if a leadership program would help him and his executive team. Instead of responding with the features and benefits of a leadership training program because that's what old-school sales training taught businesses, a story, paralleling this similar scenario, is far more effective in capturing and retaining a prospect's interest. We all love a good story, our brains are hard-wired for them, and we especially like a story that we can relate to – one that ends well and ultimately helps us solve our own challenges.
The goal of any good, persuasive sales conversation is to transform your audience. You want to get them to move from one state to another. But first, you need to know where you are moving them from and where you are taking them to. For instance, suppose you want to take your audience that is currently resisting something to trying what you are offering. Perhaps you want to make them go from simple awareness about your product to actually buying it, or you want to take doubters and turn them into believers.
Within a sales conversation, consider using a variety of stories to show the client how trying your product made a difference for someone just like them. By telling Sharon's story to another CEO with a similar conflict, not only is he able to see a possible resolution to his problem, it clearly demonstrates the ability to assist him and garner similar Hero results for him.
Your next sales conversation should include all of the elements of a great story:
If someone's response at the end of your conversation is “ho-hum, so-what?” you missed a great opportunity. If you are going to be persuasive and transform people, you need to use a story that closely matches where they are currently, where they want to go, and how to close that gap by using your product or service.
What previous client stories do you have in your arsenal? What fabulous tangible results can you share with potential clients that not only demonstrate your expertise but are also very relatable to your target audience? We all connect best with people and situations that parallel our own lives. That reminds me, "Just last week I worked with a client that reminds me a lot of your…"
AmyK Hutchens is founder and Intelligence Activist of AmyK International, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and business strategist. AmyK and her team teach executives how to lead and sales teams how to sell successfully. Follow AmyK on Twitter @AmyKinc or visit www.amyk.com