- The final stage of the storytelling process involves going beyond defining and structuring your story, to thinking about the actual delivery
- Delivering a story in the right way – with a combination of passion, confidence and conviction – can be extremely powerful, creating an emotional response that compels the buyer to take action
- There are some simple steps you can take to deliver your story in the most impactful way possible, including setting the scene in advance, building personal credibility, engaging the audience, and closing with confidence
- This should equip you with everything you need to start transforming buyer experiences throughout the sales cycle with the power of story.
If you’re reading this, you’ve made it through to the third and final instalment 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, making it vital that you tell the right story, to the right buyer, at the right time. It’s certainly a tricky challenge, and one that requires you to know your buyers better than they know themselves.
This will enable you to understand their specific needs, in turn putting you in the best position to develop a story that will truly resonate.
We then outlined the three key elements of an effective storytelling structure that will help any seller stay on point when interacting with buyers. An effective story structure should clearly outline the key points that you are trying to get across, empowering you to tell a story that drives more effective selling by moving buyers through the sales cycle.
Like all good things, this journey must come to an end, but there’s still one important step left to take – arguably the most important step – in the storytelling process. That is, of course, the delivery.
Time to deliver
Once you have the foundations in place, you must then be able to deliver the story in a way that is engaging, memorable and persuasive. We recommend going beyond just defining your story, to thinking about how you actually deliver that story so that you are the only option for the buyer.
This is vital, as how you say something can often be more powerful than what you are actually saying. And it all comes down to confidence and conviction. Delivering a story with confidence means that you know your story, while delivering with conviction shows buyers that you believe what you are saying.
This makes it more likely that they will buy into you and the brand you represent. Deliver your story with confidence and conviction – along with a liberal dose of passion – and you’ll be amazed at the response you receive.
This is all made possible by the hard work that has come before. The combination of preparation, structure and passion creates a unique superpower known as “situational fluency,” meaning there is nothing that can throw you off your game.
You can adapt the delivery based upon how the buyer engages without sacrificing the outcome you are driving for. You can address any potential speed bump without losing focus of your story.
Although it’s not always easy to achieve, there are some simple steps that will help you deliver a story in the most impactful way possible.
1. Set the scene
Find out in advance who will be in the meeting, how much time you’ll have and how the meeting will be conducted. If it’s a virtual meeting, make sure you’ve addressed all the technical elements and have a backup plan in case something goes wrong.
Make sure you understand both the customer’s business and industry. Review recent press releases, news articles and any relevant industry reports so that you can deliver the most appropriate story and present yourself as a trusted advisor.
Finally, quiz your contact on what the perfect solution or demonstration would look like for their organization and specifically ask what the buyer would like to see. A one-size-fits-all demo is never an effective one, so this step is crucial to ensuring that you can put your best foot forward.
2. Kick-off professionally
Start by introducing all the participants and summarize what you will be showing the buyer. Confirm that this aligns with the buyer’s expectations for the meeting, so you can be confident that they’ll be interested in your story.
Consider stating the customer’s three to five most critical needs, and then demonstrating the entire flow of your proposed solution if requested. Finally, summarize your understanding of “what’s not working” to establish the current situation.
3. Build personal and brand credibility
Use the next few minutes to differentiate yourself and your company from the competition. Leverage the power of your personal credentials, customer references and breadth of offerings to build trust.
Consider personalizing an opening slide with a logo or quote from a customer that is similar to the buyer to provide early validation. Remember to outline that customer’s pain points and how your solution overcame them.
4. Engage the audience
Make a point of addressing all customer attendees at least once or twice, and highlight how what you’re showing is of value to them. Supplement this with periodic “pause for questions” to confirm you are addressing the buyer’s needs and interests, allow for questions, and clear up any confusions.
As you move through the demo, map what you’re discussing to the buyer’s pain points and express the associated value by confidently stating “what this means to you is X.” Weave in customer success stories and anecdotes to illustrate your experience and expertise.
5. Separate yourself from the competition
When it comes to competitors, be professional and factual, not slanderous. Reference information on your competitors that’s available in the public domain where possible, and use that to explain how your product or solution differs.
Linked to this, sales reps should be sure to ask prospective buyers if they can address any concerns about the company or product offering that competitors may have previously planted.
6. Close with confidence
At the end of the session, recap what you just discussed with the buyer, along with the associated value behind it. Ask open-ended questions to understand how accurately you addressed the buyer’s needs and pain points, revisiting any segments of the story if required.
Sales reps should finish by asking for contact information they don’t already have if higher-level decision makers are attending for the first time, identify any actions for both parties, and establish the timeframe for making a decision.
And that brings us to the end of our storytelling series. You should now be equipped with everything you need to start transforming buyer experiences throughout the sales cycle with the power of story. All that’s left now is for you to go and do it.
Brian Cotter serves as the SVP, Sales Engineering of Seismic Software. Brian started at Seismic in January of 2019.