In this post we will explore the power of storytelling in competitive deals. Storytelling is an undervalued skill. It is the reason you lose competitive deals you think you should have won.
There have been many sales methodologies focused on uncovering needs. They will tell you to match your solution to those customer needs. This is only part of a successful strategy.
To win a deal, you need to appeal to two different minds.
Emotional Mind – what feels right? What reduces my risk and neutralizes my fear? Does the solution strengthen my personal agenda? Ever been faced with two solutions that seemed pretty much equal, but went with your gut? That’s the emotional mind. The emotional mind is the quick, lizard brain. It gives us our sense of fulfillment, and temporarily calms our fears and concerns. It must be appeased to win the sale.
Logical Mind - Why should I choose this solution over that one? When will I realize my return on investment?
Sales Leaders frequently look for logical evidence to determine if their rep will win the deal. Sometimes, a sudden loss leaves the rep shocked. “Our project was a better fit!” they pout. “They will be sorry”. Many of these failed efforts are a result of emotional misalignment. The rep appeals to the logical mind. The customer was swayed by emotion evoked by a competitor.
People often don’t act logically. If your competition tells a more compelling story, they are in position A.
Some think that storytelling is an innate talent. You can either tell a story or you can’t. Not true. Like anything else, storytelling is an art learned through practice and repetition. The Compelling Story Guide will help you and your team becomes better storytellers. It will help you outshine competitors.
So how can you create alignment between your story and the buyer’s emotions? Appeal to their “personal motives”. Buyer Personas help you focus on your customers’ fears, and personal goals. By understanding the buyer, you can provide both logical and emotional support. This is done through content, personal interactions, 3rd party references, etc. You pull the buyer through the process by speaking to the questions they are asking themselves. The overarching theme that drives action by the buyer is a cohesive story.
The Ultimate Sales Success Story
I am going to use politics as an example. I realize this is dangerous. I am not advocating a political position!
President Obama won his elections by telling a story that drove an actionable response. The response was a vote that represented the majority of voters. Some people couldn’t logically justify how he won.
How did he do it? His team did extensive research on voters. He understood the fears and personal motivation of the middle class. During each appearance or debate he addressed their fears. He painted a picture of the glorious future. Look at his campaign slogans. “Yes we can” and “Forward”. They focused on future possibilities versus past issues. He also developed a storyboard for his campaign. This storyboard was the foundation of every speech, debate, and appearance. You could argue whether Obama was more or less qualified than his competition. Either way, he told a better story. According to John Dickerson at CBS News, “When voters were asked which candidate cared more about them, Obama won more than 80 percent of those voters.” Yet he won only 50.4% of the popular vote.
By doing so, he has won two Presidential elections. There is no bigger sales campaign. He was selling to 197,828,022 registered voters. That is a lot of stakeholders.
What is the point? We have all heard the expression, “people buy from people”. What that really means, is that buyers need to make an emotional connection. When you lose deals to competitors, it is not always obvious why. Research indicates price is secondary to criteria such as surfacing risk, trustworthiness and culture fit. These are accomplished by telling a story that connects to the buyer's emotions.
How to Become a Great Storyteller
Research – Have a deep understanding of your buyers. The creation of Buyer Personas and Buying Process Maps is a great place to start. Telling a great story about your value requires alignment to your customer's objectives.
Plan – use the Compelling Story Tool. This tool will ensure the story you have developed drive actions. It will help you develop a cohesive story focused on your customer.
Reduce Buyer Fear/Risk – find out what buyers are concerned about. Make sure your story includes the same fears and concerns your buyer is going through. Not addressing those fears doesn’t stop them from occurring. It only stops you from providing a reasonable rebuttal. Show how your solution minimizes the risk that leads to these fears.
Personal Motives – show how your solution will help each stakeholder achieve their personal goals.