Forget creative marketing incentives with a customer-centric sales strategy
If your salespeople don’t have a story to tell, they become regular salespeople. They’ll use increasingly expensive creative marketing incentives to sell your products, crushing your margins.
In this article, we discuss how salespeople can incentivise customers to buy with compelling sales narratives – helping you avoid the need to offer increasingly expensive creative marketing incentives.
What is storytelling in sales?
Storytelling in sales helps to create brand. It should evoke emotion in the buyer, and help them connect their need with your solution. It takes the customer beyond product functionality, connects shared values, and creates the desire to buy and then remain loyal.
How do companies share their sales narratives?
Companies are finding increasingly innovative ways to market their products through the discourse of sales narratives. The internet, particularly social media, provides marketing opportunities that would have been considered the stuff of science fiction only a few decades ago. Now you can:
- Share insight from executives, business leaders, employees, and product advocates.
- Interview customers and conduct customer surveys at the click of a mouse.
- Develop and share sales narratives around current news, social issues, product reviews, etc.
All of this can be done 24/7. You can segregate customers by profile, geography, and any other criteria you wish. And storytelling isn’t limited to written content. You can create videos, podcasts, images and animations, and interactive experiences.
Of course, the most interactive experience of all is the face-to-face sales meeting. With a strong and compelling narrative, your salespeople will increase their effectiveness without resorting to creative marketing incentives that undermine margins.
The five-step process of commanding customers with compelling sales narratives
The strategy of creating a compelling sales narrative for use by the salesperson can be briefly explained as a five-step process:
Step #1: Demote statistics below emotions
Salespeople who underperform tend to be those who believe product statistics boost sales. They don’t. People are emotional beings. In his book, Professor Gerald Zaltman of Harvard Business School concludes that 95% of all buying decisions are made subconsciously.
This isn’t to say that statistics don’t have a place in the mechanism of selling – they do. However, statistics and facts simply rationalise the decision to buy. Part of the skill of selling is to determine when to enforce the emotional decision-making process with facts.
Step #2: Identify themes to solicit emotions
Effective stories connect the product with the personal experiences of the customer. They draw the customer into the story, and show how the product can resolve current or future perceived issues. When the customer begins to show their emotions, the experienced salesperson will empathize with them, thus helping the customer to explain more fully the problems that they need to address.
Step #3: Help the customer to envision the future
Now is the time to show how the customer’s future could be improved with your product. You are selling to their emotions, their hopes and fears, and their vision of the future. They become the conclusion of your story.
Step #4: Use the three-act story strategy
Telling stories in three acts is a known formula that works. A beginning, middle, and end. First, establish the issue to be resolved. Second, play out the future worst and best-case scenarios. Finally, create the solution which compels action.
Step #5: Put the customer at the centre of the narrative
Make sure that you allow the customer to interact with the narrative. Include their experiences, comments, and questions. This will ensure you create a compelling narrative that sells, as your customer becomes aware of the benefits and value that you and your product provide. On this point, I’ll leave the last words to Ron Willingham, who writes in his book (p. 130) ‘Integrity Selling for the 21st Century’:
“You’ll sell more when you present product or service benefits consistent with your customer’s view of who they are. Rather than doing this, though, many salespeople hold fast to their own ego-ideals and allow them to clash with their customer’s self-perceptions. Salespeople’s attitudes of ‘I’m an expert, and I know what’s best for you’ can draw battle lines between them and their customers, a battle that salespeople can never win.”
Contact us today, and discover how we could help your sales team to manage themselves, their prospects, and ignite sales.