Sales Storytelling: You wasted your customer’s time!

This blog is for you if you are in sales. What we are focussing on in this blog is the most overlooked, but the most important part of the sales process. No, its not the sales presentation. Let’s find out what exactly it is.

Over the last one month I have worked with senior sales teams of a few organisation where the task was to spot stories that could be told in an upcoming sales activity. These projects are fascinating for me. Why? They are real and my entire corporate career has been in sales which gives me a good understanding of issues faced by corporates in selling their goods and services.

Back to the project

During these projects fixing our sales presentation was the easiest. The most interesting part of the project was the conversations after the presentation was over.

We created scenarios where we would enact a story led conversation and some of us would become difficult clients to make this experience as real as possible.

I reminded the clients that I am not from their industry and I may ask questions that seem commonsense to them but even their client is not from their industry. So, I am just like their client.

We started the story led conversations and the question that made most sales people stumble was  – How are you different from your competitor?

Upon asking this question, we would get vague answers like we are faster, more value for money, our product is better, our product is easy to use.

If I got an answer like its faster, I would further  ask, ” How much faster then the competitor’s product”? Initially the sales person looked confused and then said, ” a few mins which would save you money and time. We repeatedly heard these kinds of answers and finally  someone from the group said, Who cares about that those few mins faster …It doesn’t justify that we are a lot more expensive then the competitor.

This is exactly the point I wanted the team to arrive at. No matter how great your presentation was, that excited explanation of saving a few mins has made your customer feel, you have just wasted my time

The insight here is that your product, brand and service is almost the same as the competitor but the differentiation lies in the sales experience you create with your client.

Now, you may wonder should I not focus on product, brand and service. Of course you have to get that right without that the opportunity will not come to you. Great product,brand and service starts the customer conversation but that doesn’t keep the customer with you. What keeps the customer with you is the experience you create with the customer and sales storytelling plays a fundamental role in creating those experiences.

The above scenario was exactly like a scenario I had read about in The Challenger Sale. So, I flipped the book again at the end of the day to find research that supports my experience and there it was,   53% of the customer loyalty is attributable to your ability to outperform the competition in the sales experiences itself.

*Over half of customer loyalty is a result not of what you sell, but how you sell.

As important as it is to have great products, brands and services,

it’s all for naught if your sales person can’t execute out in the field

I am sure you are keen to find out how would you go about creating those experiences with stories … lets tackle that in our upcoming Sales Storytelling blogs

* source: The Challenger Sales

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