Human beings persuade others—and ourselves—with stories. Successful salespeople communicate using stories and it differentiates them from the rest. It’s important in any interaction. So Bob Apollo implores salespeople to “resist the itch to pitch” and instead, tell a story.
Bob is convinced anyone can improve their storytelling skills. If you’ve ever participated in debate or theater, it can develop your confidence. It can make a powerful group exercise with other salespeople. To become a better storyteller, all you need is a simple structure and consistent practice.
Bob points out that the essence of a great story dates back to the Greeks. Aristotle identified the three elements of a great story:
If you assess what makes a good sales story, they always include these elements.
Empathy, emotional intelligence, curiosity, and a desire to persuade through rhetoric are important. Can you read the audience and pick up signals from the listener? Can you adjust and adapt accordingly so your stories have the greatest possible impact?
Good stories require that the salesperson can put themselves in the shoes of the listener. Really good stories are stories where the hero is the listener. It’s the best way to convince the audience that they can do better and be more successful.
What are Bob’s recommendations?
What else? Resist the itch to pitch.
Bob was working with a company that had one salesperson that was far more successful and effective than anyone else. To understand what set him apart, Bob looked at everyone’s proposals. The underperforming salespeople ended their proposals with summaries about how they were better or why the prospect should buy from them. They were pitching the prospects.
The top-performing salesperson told a story. He didn’t start with “why us” but why the customer needed to change instead of carrying along the current path. He also shared why the customer would benefit from immediate action. Only once he established those things did he share the “why us.”
Unlike his colleagues, this salesperson realized that by the time you get to a proposal, you aren’t competing against other vendors. You’re competing against the other projects that the customer could be spending money on. The last element they had to overcome was proving why they should approve this project rather than all the others.
What happened when his colleagues attempted to embrace his storytelling style? Listen to hear the whole story!
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