Sales is about building relationships. People want to have faith that you’re a good person and that you’re there for the right reasons. They don’t get to see you in action. But if you tell a story about a real experience, it shares a sample of your behavior. It allowed them to decide whether or not you’re trustworthy. Annette Simmons firmly believes that storytelling is the substance of relationships. Learn how she uses stories to demonstrate trustworthiness in this episode of Sales Reinvented!
A great story is a significant emotional experience narrated so that it feels real to the teller and the listener. How do you know what stories to tell? Annette says to think of a time when you can share a quality that earned you the right to be trusted. What examples from your background of when you were that quality? Or when you blew it? If you narrate it as a real experience using your sensory imagination, magic happens. If you are in the moment, other people feel it as real. But the key is that you have to share a substantive true story.
Authenticity is #1. Salespeople are trying to build a relationship of trust. When Annette was researching storytelling and sales, she came across a story about a supplier to Walmart. He had been trying to sell to them for ages and never got a sale. Then the purchaser called and asked him for something he didn’t have—but he knew who did.
So he gave the purchasing agent the name of the person who had what they wanted. That’s where he started to build trust. So when he had what they were looking for, they already trusted him to deliver. What are the other attributes? Listen to hear Annette’s thoughts!
Annette believes there are six stories every salesperson must be able to tell.
When you hear a story, it prompts you to think of a story. People start sharing stories, which is when the magic happens. Storytelling is a collaborative process. Practice your story with someone else so you see if you’re recreating an emotional experience. If you’re not, you get a chance to correct it before you’re in a sales situation.
When Annette does facilitator training, she caps the classes at a max of 10 people because the work is intense. She wanted people to have the freedom to work on themselves as well as learn the process. For one of her training sessions, she had five people signed up, each paying their own way. A large client reached out to her and said they’d take the remaining spots.
Instead of agreeing to take all five, because she didn’t believe it would be fair to her current participants, Annette said she could accept 2–3 and the others could join the next training. She wanted to make sure it was a good experience for everyone. The woman told her she wouldn't be getting her business and hung up on her.
People might hear that story and focus on the thought that she lost business. Annette doesn’t care. She shares the difficult things they don’t want to hear with positive intent. What stories can you share that might be difficult but will create trust? And create a context where you are being honest and authentic? Annette will make decisions that are in the best interest of her clients, even when they disagree. Telling that story creates a powerful base for a relationship and builds trustworthiness.
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