Do you remember the 1977 hit song from Foreigner, “Cold as Ice”? Then you can probably relate to this situation. I was on a sales call with a prospect – one of those uncomfortable and tough calls. It went something like this:
I asked a question.
The response? A curt sentence or two followed by total silence.
I tried again with some small talk and got nowhere.
Finally I asked him where he grew up and bingo, we connected. Turns out we were from the same area, only 50 miles away from each other. I shared a story about the time I visited his home town and found a great restaurant that I never will forget. Fortunately I was able to overcome that icy feeling. It was the beginning of a relationship that brought our company strong sales for 5 years, which proves the power of connection.
People connect through stories. It’s how we share and relate. Stories connect us emotionally as we place ourselves in the story being told. They remind us of similar experiences we’ve had. Stories create empathy, authenticity and vulnerability. They help us to build relationships.
Michael Bosworth is the author of “What Great Salespeople Do” that tells how the brain interprets information and events. Michael says that we are hard wired to feel first and to think second, which is the perfect description of how stories work. It is our limbic brain where emotions reside and draws us to what feels good and repels us from what doesn’t.
We make decisions based on emotions which happen in the right side of our brain. The stronger an emotion associated with and experience the better. We use facts to justify our emotional decisions.
Yet in your story telling, you want to be real. You want people to learn what you’ve overcome – what complication have you mastered? In the structure of a story, there needs to be a low point – a conflict – so that the hero can rise and overcome it. Some thought and practice will result in great storytelling that draws your listener in.
Using stories is an effective tool when selling, as you are working to engage your prospect in your solution. You want them to see the benefits you offer, and the more you can connect your prospect to the emotion in your solution, the better your chances of making the sale.
The next time you visit a prospect, tell a story to:
1- Connect with them so they can relate
2- Find common experiences
3- Help them feel the complications you overcame and the benefits you received
Sell to their emotions and be in tune with both your ears and eyes. Listening is not part of questioning, but, questioning is part of listening!