I’ve been hammering away at this storytelling thing for quite some time, and you might be asking yourself by now why I think it’s so important.
Best answer? Stories are how we – and by ‘we’ I mean humans – connect with and make sense out of the world around us, and what’s happening in it. Stories are how we form connections with our friends, our families, our colleagues, even our competitors.
That connection-forming piece is why the 20th century selling approach called A-B-C – "Always Be Closing" – doesn’t work very well in our 21st century world.
First, people are exhausted by all the relentless commercial messages pounding away at them all day, every day. If you’re selling something, you want to get the attention of the folks you want to sell to. Grabbing attention by annoying the crap out of them might seem appealing, and it can work if you’re looking for high-volume sales of low-cost items. However, if you’re selling high-cost products or services, you need to get and KEEP attention by sharing a story with your prospective customers that tells them you’ve got something they need.
Second, all that pounding away at sales resistance that marks the old-school approach just won’t work on 21st century buyers. They’ve seen it before, and they hate it. They see you coming, and fade into the woodwork. Call them, email them, send them your newsletter – you can even buttonhole ’em at a business event and give ’em your best pitch. They won’t catch it, and likely stopped listening within the first 15 seconds.
Sales is a seduction. You can’t shake someone’s hand and then shove ’em in the bedroom, unless you’re looking for a felony conviction. You have to build trust and intimacy before getting them to the point where they’ll put out. Same with selling – build a relationship first. Gain trust, really show value. Tell a story that demonstrates your value, that connects with your prospect’s world-view, that says you have the answer to their business prayers.
This will, of course, require some work on your part – you have to find out what your prospect’s world-view IS, and determine if you could fit into it. Also, you have to look at what you’re offering, and determine if it does indeed have value to that prospect, or if you’re just A-B-C-ing yourself into oblivion. Literally.
Bottom line? You cannot be all things to all people. What value DO you bring? Who would most benefit from that value offering? What’s the most authentic story that connects those two dots?
Like I said, think of it as a seduction – of someone you really feel a connection to. That’s not something you can pull off quick. Well, you can pull off their clothes quick, but that might not have the desired results. You want to solidify that connection, form a real bond. One that will last longer than a one-sale-stand.
So – be like Sheherazade, the heroine of Thousand and One Nights who saved her life by telling stories. Spin a tale that captivates and connects. That’s real selling magic.
That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it…