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What 4 words have your audience leaning in? …. Once upon a time.
Well, perhaps not those exact 4 words, but how many of us share stories with our prospects or clients? Stories to highlight an insight, expose a gap, or draw a parallel to similar situations that ended positively or negatively.In the past few decades, neuroscientists have learned more about emotion and its role in persuasion. According to molecular biologist John Medina, emotionally arousing events using words, pictures or objects that trigger fear, joy, hope and surprise tend to be better remembered than neutral events.
Isn’t part of our goal to stand out and be memorable? Storytelling is an underutilized tool, yet it is very effective.The limbic part of the brain, responsible for decision making, building trust and loyalty is activated through emotion, yet many of us continue to sell facts, stats, and specs. Igniting the data-driven neo-cortex part of the brain, justifying or rationalizing our decision.
Ask yourself which one do you play in? Where is there an opportunity to connect, disarm and engage on a different level? Let’s examine this further.Princeton’s neuroscientist, Uri Hasson looked at images of brain patterns of people who are engaged in conversation. He discovered a specific type of dialogue resulted in “neural coupling” where scans show similar patterns of activity in the same region of both the speaker and the listener's brain.Hasson concluded that an emotional story is the only kind of dialogue that triggers this kind of mind-meld between two brains.
How can we use this superpower as salespeople? Do we want to create a sense of urgency? Empathy for their situation? Highlight risk due to inactivity, we can do all this through storytelling, however, we have to be intentional. If we are hoping to come up with a great story at the moment, it may not happen, or like a joke, it may not land in an intended way.
First thing, many companies make themselves the hero in the story. I can’t stress enough; that it has to be the customer.We are rewarding them for getting the budget, gaining consensus and moving the deal along on the inside. Delivering a compelling message in our stories invites our audience to feel that “the squeeze is worth the juice”. The discomfort of change is worth the outcome, but if they’re not the hero, they may not feel this. Can you create a storytelling playbook? segment situations in your sales process where you can use storytelling?
Acknowledging an objection, storytelling avoids taking a defensive tone, neutralizes the situation and invites your prospect to see their objection in a different light. Perhaps they are seeing a different side to the character in the story, one they did not consider before and become more open to seeing things from a different angle. Stalled Deal, when time has passed, we get “ghosted”, but we can always tie our outreach back to the original problem they shared with us. However, can we further add to this by sharing a story about a recent client who didn’t move forward, what was the cost of inactivity? Allow them to see themselves in the story, feel the emotional impact and make the realization why they need to move forward.
Growing Pipeline How can we attract new prospects into our pipeline by selling the problem, through storytelling? Most likely they are not in the “Awareness Stage” when we are reaching out to them, so how can we invite them to consider how they are getting the job done today, to make the invisible visible? We can use stories to highlight others in their situation who chose not to act and where they are today. Highlight the risk of inactivity. Not all stories need to end well, we can share problem stories early in the sales process that highlights the risk of the status quo and Solution stories later in the process to highlight the benefits.
When creating a story we need to work backwards and ask ourselves, what do we want our audience to KFD? Know, Feel and Do? Now, what stories do we need to tell to accomplish this? Furthermore, what emotions do we have to isolate to elicit these emotions? Capturing all senses, can we invite our buyers to see themselves in our story? moreover in a particular character. Can you create imagery to set the stage, like telling a good joke that takes practice? Can we create a hook, how can we ignite their curiosity and have them lean in more?
If we are telling a “solution story” with a happy ending, we want to paint a before and after picture. Highlight a similar client who was in a situation like theirs, it is important to highlight the emotional impact in the before state. If they have not fully anchored themselves to the problem this will help activate their emotions. Feelings such as overwhelm, frustration, demotivated, loss etc. we want our prospects to see themselves in that before state, and know that they are not alone. Before we transition to the future state, the bridge is where we worked with them, what solution did you implement? How did you help them? This is the turning point. Remember they are still the hero, you helped them get to the top.
Finally, the Future state and a new way forward. How were your clients feeling after the fact? Again, the emotional impact here, empowered, liberated, and confident, they should feel excited and want to move forward knowing the desired outcomes are not far behind. If delivered in an intentional, well-timed, emotional manner your prospect will want to know more about “how” you were able to help them.Because you intrigued them with emotion first, the tables are turned. They want to know how can you do the same for them.
Greenlight, we can now share our value proposition, and what we do.
As a team, can you segment various stages of the buyer’s journey? where there is friction, decrease in deal velocity? or stalled deals. What stories can you create to proactively get in front of these situations? Can you practice as a group? deliver the story, with inflection, intonation pausing? Record yourselves to see what your client will experience, are you conveying the emotion in an intended way?
Like a stand-up comedian, practice getting the laugh.
For 20 years Karen has been specializing in the art and science of sales and communication her passion and experience are helping technical sales professionals become more confident and to disrupt with value.
Her dedication to developing and delivering customized sales training programs provide her audience practical, relevant tools that can be used immediately to break down the barriers in a competitive landscape and separate themselves from the noise.