Third-party stories, testimonials, case study, reviews, and other “social proof” can be a powerful technique in your sales toolkit. Storytelling carries a fair amount influence with your prospects and clients when done correctly. Stories can also redirect conflict, create an emotional connection, and help illustrate key features and benefits.
By referencing other similar projects or situations, you help your prospect better understand their situation, discover your solutions, set appropriate budgets, and even paint a picture of the desired outcome. That’s a lot of pressure and responsibility on your storytelling skills.
How would you rate your current storytelling abilities?
There is a common storytelling template called the Hero’s Journey, and it has a powerful lesson for your sales strategy. This technique, used in storytelling for thousands of years, goes something like this.
We meet the hero. He or she might be a known hero, a reluctant hero, or a hero in waiting, but they are the focus of the story. The hero usually has some goal, vision of the future, or gap between where they are and where they want to be. It could be survival, a better life, or solving a problem with their current situation.
The problem is they also have some conflict or obstacle to overcome. The heroes are sick, imprisoned, or otherwise stuck in their quest for the goal until they meet a mentor. The mentor is wise, magical, or has a special skill to bring out the best in our hero. The mentor shows the hero the way out and encourages them to take the heroic path. Through the hero’s journey, there is always a moral to the story. The hero and audience learn why the hero got stuck or learns a fundamental truth about life so they can move on and live happily ever after.
Do you recognize the hero’s journey story template?
It is in virtually every great action movie, animated movie, and science fiction story., but what does it have to do with your prospect and your sales skills? Can you see the hero’s journey story template in your prospects and customers? Your heroes, your customers, are stuck. They are dreaming and hoping for a better life, more money, or easier solution, but they are missing something. Your goal is to be the mentor, to find your heroes, and help them discover a way out of their conflict and how to reach their goals.
The moral of the story is your unique value, which you provide to your customers. Anyone can sell a product or perform a service, but how you do it differently, better, or faster than anyone else is a lesson worth learning. That lesson goes for you and your client. Once you discover your unique value, you can use it over and over to beat the competition and grow your business. Once your prospect understands your unique value, they will become customers and raving fans for life.
A Sandler Training Story
Dale was not your typical salesperson, although he was in a typical situation. Dale had a Ph.D. from Virginia Tech and specialized in plant breeding and genetics. Those skills lead him into green roofing for sustainable buildings, and very quickly he found himself in a sales position for a local roofing company.
Dale was very smart and very hard working. When we met him, he was the top sales person at the roofing company. He had done over 250 proposals last year and closed over 30 deals for around $250,000 in sales. The problem was that he was working too hard for too little. He was up on roofs every day and writing proposals every night, and his average sale was quite low when you factored in roof repairs and not just complete reroofs.
That’s when the owner of the roofing company made an investment in Sandler Training, and he offered a 50/50 split to cover the cost of any of his salespeople that wanted to take the training. At first, Dale was too busy and too successful, but as he saw other salespeople in the company getting better and closing the gap, he decided to start training.
Only six months later, Dale stands up in class and announces that he has started qualifying his prospects before doing proposals, and while his numbers of proposals had dropped by 90%, his number of sales and total revenue had doubled. He finished the year with 29 proposals and $500,000 in revenue!
The amazing part of Dale’s story is that he didn’t stop there. He decided to see exactly how far he could take this new sales strategy. The next year he did 15 proposals and $1 Million in revenue. The year after eight proposals and $2 Million. And, in his final year in roofing sales, Dale made just four proposals and closed two deals for over $4 Million dollars! He told us that if he stayed in that position, his goal was going to be $8 Million in 2 proposals. Instead, Dale was able to write his own ticket in sales and take a new job closer to his grandkids and live happily ever after. To this day, Dale lists Sandler Training in his LinkedIn description and education section above his Ph.D. and credits Sandler for his sales successes.