What does a customer experience when they hear a story? It should be entertaining, enjoyable, and relatable. Storytelling is innately human. We are wired to receive and retain information when it’s told in story form. Stories can also be used to create alignment with important executive stakeholders in the sales process. Learn how Scott Ingram uses stories to create executive alignment with Fortune 500 companies in this episode of Sales Reinvented!
Scott has developed specific stories for specific situations that he knows will resonate or make a point. He knows that the story format will connect better than if he just gave someone information.
What are the situations—throughout your sales cycle—where a story might be appropriate? How do you introduce yourself? How do you introduce your company or solution? How do you share successes with other customers?
You have an opportunity to choose the story and practice the story. That’s how anyone gets better at anything.
The more closely you can align your hero with your customer, the more they can see themselves in that situation. The more it connects, the more it resonates. The story needs to relate to the issue or objective you’re trying to solve.
One of the stories that Scott uses frequently is all about elevating the access that he has in an organization. He wants to get connected to and aligned with an executive stakeholder. That’s the reason he tells a story. He wants them to understand the value of making that introduction. He’ll increase their odds of success in a project.
What is the purpose of the story? What outcome do you desire?
Scott works for a professional services firm and most of his clients are Fortune 500 companies. The deals are often complex with numerous stakeholders and departments in the mix. When he’s in a competitive situation he wants to differentiate himself but his primary objective is to get aligned with the executive stakeholder for the project.
When you’re working on these complex opportunities where you have misaligned incentives, different goals, etc. you need someone that sits above it all and can make decisions to move a project forward. The success or failure of these projects hinges on a strong executive stakeholder. So Scott shares this story when he’s trying to determine who an executive stakeholder is.
Rob—a stakeholder at a Fortune 500 company—is the perfect executive stakeholder because he understands the value of his role in meeting the overall objective of a project. What made Rob so great in his role is that he knew his role was to call balls and strikes.
You will work with incomplete data, but decisions must still be made to move forward. By serving in that role, he’s seen incredible success delivering projects on time and on budget, delivering the results and outcomes the organization was seeking.
After telling that story, Scott asks his clients if they have a stakeholder identified for the project. Most often, the answer is “no.” So Scott educates them on why the role is critical to their success. It’s a challenging question that most people won’t ask.
Scott notes that he shares this story in the majority of his deals. It elevates the conversation and brings real value to the project. Secondly, Rob is a closer personal friend and he’s more than happy to make an introduction. It also opens up the opportunity for Rob to share his story about Scott and his company to the new client.
Scott’s approach is effective 80% of the time. Many teams are trying to complete a mission-critical project, yet they’re disjointed across the organization and often don’t realize their risk is high. The way to mitigate their risk is to figure out who the executive stakeholder is and get them involved in the process.
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