30 second summary:
- The final stage of the narration process is to go beyond defining and structuring your story and thinking about the actual delivery
- Delivering a story the right way – with a combination of passion, confidence, and conviction – can be extremely powerful and evoke an emotional response that forces the buyer to act
- There are a few simple steps you can take to make your story as impactful as possible, including setting the scene beforehand, building personal credibility, engaging the audience, and closing it safely
- This should equip you with everything you need to transform buyer experiences with the power of history throughout the sales cycle.
If you’re reading this, you will have made it to the third and final episode of our B2B storytelling journey. We started by discussing the importance of laying the groundwork for storytelling success, or more specifically, getting to know your buyer.
The level of noise and competition in the industry is greater than ever. So it’s important that you tell the right story to the right buyer at the right time. It is certainly a tricky challenge that requires you to know your buyers better than they do themselves.
That way, you can understand their specific needs and are in the best position to develop a story that really resonates.
We then outlined the three key elements of an effective storytelling structure that will help any seller stay current as they interact with buyers. An effective story structure should clearly outline the key points you want to convey and enable you to tell a story that will lead to a more effective sale by guiding buyers through the sales cycle.
Like all good things, this journey has to come to an end, but there remains one important step – arguably the most important – in the narrative process. That, of course, is the delivery.
Time to deliver
Once you have the basics in place, you need to be able to deliver the story in an engaging, memorable, and compelling way. We recommend not just defining your story, but thinking about how you will actually deliver that story so that you are the only option for the buyer.
This is vital because the way you say something can often be more powerful than what you actually say. And everything depends on trust and conviction. Delivering a story with confidence means you know your story, while delivering with confidence shows buyers that you believe what you say.
This makes them more likely to care about you and the brand you represent. Deliver your story with confidence and conviction – along with a generous dose of passion – and you will be amazed at the response you get.
All of this is made possible by the hard work that has been done so far. The combination of preparation, structure and passion creates a unique superpower known as the Situation Flow. This means that nothing can dissuade you from your game.
You can adjust delivery based on the engagement of the buyer without affecting the outcome for which you are driving. You can fix any over speeding without losing the focus of your story.
While not always easy to achieve, there are a few simple steps that will help you deliver a story in the most effective way possible.
1. Set up the scene
Find out in advance who will be in the meeting, how much time you have, and how the meeting will be conducted. If it’s a virtual meeting, make sure you’ve covered all the technical elements and create a backup plan in case something goes wrong.
Make sure you understand both the customer’s business and industry. Read the latest press releases, news articles, and relevant industry reports to deliver the most appropriate story and present yourself as a trusted advisor.
Finally, ask your contact what the perfect solution or demonstration for the organization would look like, and specifically ask what the buyer would like to see. A one-size-fits-all demo is never effective. Hence, this step is critical to making sure you can get your best foot forward.
2. Professional start
First, introduce each participant and summarize what you will be showing the buyer. Confirm that this is in line with the buyer’s expectations for the meeting so you can be sure that they will be interested in your story.
Consider identifying the customer’s three to five key requirements and, if requested, demonstrate the full flow of your proposed solution. Finally, summarize your understanding of “what is not working?” To identify the current situation.
3. Build personal and brand credibility
Use the next few minutes to set yourself and your company apart from the competition. Use the power of your personal credentials, customer testimonials and range of offers to build trust.
Consider personalizing an opening slide with a customer logo or offer that is similar to the buyer for early validation. Remember to outline the customer’s weaknesses and how your solution overcame them.
4. Engage the audience
Reach out to all customers at least once or twice and highlight how valuable what you are showing is to them. Complement this with a regular “pause for questions” to confirm that you are addressing the buyer’s needs and interests, considering questions, and clearing any confusion.
As you move through the demo, map what you discuss to the buyer’s vulnerabilities and express the value involved by making sure it means X to you. Weave in customer success stories and anecdotes to illustrate your experience and expertise.
5. Separate yourself from the competition
Be professional and factual, not defamatory, when it comes to competitors. Reference information about your competitors, which is publicly available whenever possible, and uses this information to explain how your product or solution differs.
With this in mind, it is important for sales reps to ask prospective buyers if they have any concerns about the company or the product offering that competitors may have previously planted.
6. Close with confidence
At the end of the session, summarize what you just discussed with the buyer, along with the associated value behind it. Ask open-ended questions to understand how exactly you addressed the buyer’s needs and weaknesses, and then review all sections of the story if necessary.
Finally, sales reps should ask for contact information they don’t already have when top-level decision makers arrive, identify actions for both parties, and set the timeframe for making the decision.
And that brings us to the end of our storytelling series. You should now be armed with everything you need to transform the buyer experience with the power of history throughout the sales cycle. Now all you have to do is go and do it.
Brian Cotter is SVP, Sales Engineering for Seismic Software. Brian started at Seismic in January 2019.