Help Your Sale Prospects Change Their Own Minds
I remember him especially well for two reasons.
One – I didn’t have many men teachers growing up.
Two – He and my mother had a lengthy exchange based on a comment on my after my report card about me talking too much in class. The exchange ended with the suggestion of duct tape for my mouth. While it was a little funny, I felt badly for not being the perfect little student.
Six years ago, I heard World Champion of Public Speaking Mark Brown talk about looking back onto his childhood and realizing that all along, he’d been drawn to public speaking. In his case, he’d done student assemblies at school and spoken at church. He encouraged the listener to think back on their own childhoods then asked what stood out as a recurring theme. He said that theme could be a clue to your natural gifts and where you should be using your talents as an adult.
At the time I heard Mark’s speech, I was early in my career as a professional speaker. Mark’s message made me flash back to Mr. Camito and my mom’s report card exchange. I remembered that my 4th grade report card wasn’t the only one that said something about me talking too much in class. And suddenly, I saw what I had considered a show of weakness in a new light. Shame on Mr. Camito and my mom! They should have recognized my verboseness as clear evidence of my gift for verbal prowess and set me on the path to professional speaker in the 4th grade!
With a short illustration from Mark, I shifted my own beliefs about my past and accepted that I’d always been destined to be a speaker! Once more, I still remember what he said and how I felt about what he said six years later.
How We Deal with New Information
OK, that may be a nice story about how Kelly’s justified leaving a lucrative job for the up and down world of professional speaking. But what does it have to do with business presentations?
Consider the implications on something more practical – your sales presentation.
Your perspective clients have their own perceptions of their world, of you, and of your product. Any information you provide they will most likely used to reinforce their existing paradigm.
If their paradigm is unflattering or if they don’t know or trust you, your sales presentation has a huge hurdle to overcome if you’re ever going to move them to the next phase of the sales process. So what do you do? Tell stories.
Telling Stories Help the Audience Connect Their Own Dots
Let’s go back to the example with my story above. I wanted to believe that I’d chosen the right path for myself. I felt ashamed that I’d not measured up in school because I talked too much in class.
Mark didn’t tell me to feel better about myself or trust I was on the right career path.
He told me a story of his childhood.
From his boyhood experience, I connected my own dots.
So What Would that Look Like in a Business Presentation?
The natural place to look for stories is within your business. Look for stories that illustrate how you’ve helped your customers. Tell those stories and let the audience connect the dots for themselves.
For instance, in my business, when speaking to coaching prospects, I will sometimes tell the story of working with one client who was particularly nervous about an upcoming speaking engagement. “He’d bombed badly at his last conference and really needed to get his presentation right for the upcoming conference. We worked together over a couple of sessions and when we were done and we were both feeling good about his upcoming presentation. Then he said to me, ‘What I thought you were going to tell me was to speak up and not mumble. But instead, by working on the content of the presentation and making sure I got that right, I was naturally able to speak up.’ After the conference, attendees ran up to the organizer saying him how great my client’s session had been. One attendee even told my client he should be on TED!”
That story has resonated and turned other prospects into clients. I didn’t have to connect the dots for them. There are several places in the story where the new clients could identify and connect the dots for themselves. It’s the stories that prospects tell themselves that mean the most and connect more viscerally.
That’s the great thing about stories. When we hear them, we try to relate them to circumstances in our life and that makes them personal and memorable.
Review Your Client Success Stories
Sit down with your sales team and generate the stories of your clients’ successes as they relate to working with you.
Different stories will resonate with different audiences.
As you learn more about your prospect’s challenges, you can match up your stories with their needs. But to do that you need to know what your clients’ success stories are. Start there and make a purposeful effort to find and craft your client success stories.
Make the Successful Client the Hero of the Story
While you’ve helped your client and the natural inclination may be to want to make yourselves the heroes of the story, resist the temptation. Instead make your client the hero of the story.
By having the client the hero, the listener starts to interject themselves into your story. If they can picture themselves riding in to help solve their company’s problems and grow their organization’s business, then you’ve helped them see your information in a new way. An emotional way. A way that they will connect with and remember. A way that encourages them to buy – and for all the right reasons.
Start and End on a Good Note
Storytelling is an effective way to connect early and engage the audience in a business presentation. And when you wrap up your presentation in the end, circle back around to the story to remind the listener why they emotionally connected with what you have to say.
So to wrap up from my opening story…
I did feel badly that I had a negative remark on my report card about talking too much.
But that summer, I asked my mom to go to summer school – because they were doing a special drama program and I wanted to act in a play.
Maybe my mom saw this as a chance to put my talking to good use.
Now, I’m privileged to really put my talents to work – as I get paid to talk about talking while helping others to become better talkers too!!!
How about you? What good stories can you tell to get your prospects to connect their own dots to change their own minds?
Would love to hear from you in the comments below!
Need help, give Kelly a call at 770-597-1108 and we’ll work on your stories together!