In virtually any sales meeting there are 2 stories in play:
· The one your client has developed based on the collateral he or she has seen on your website and other sources. Despite your best creative and marketing efforts, this will be riddled with distortions and misinterpretations.
· The actual story of your business. The one you need them to buy into.
The distance between is where you do your work. Sometimes it’s wide, occasionally less so. Regardless, you need to unify the stories if you’re to get across the line.
Asking these 3 questions (in the following order) will help you do that. They are best located as close to the beginning of the meeting as possible.
· How do we come over to you?
· How does what we do resonate with what you do?
· What do you need to hear from me today?
1) How do we come over to you?
This is an invitation for your client to share their take on your business. Resist the urge to overly complicate this question or use the word ‘think’. Buying decisions are almost universally emotional – even when we are convinced they aren’t.
2) How does what we do resonate with what you do?
This question scopes out mutuality. You wouldn’t be with your client in the first place if mutuality didn’t exist. The question is couched positively to build momentum. It doesn’t give the whole of the space between you; the next question does that….
3) What do you need to hear from me today?
If the second question estimates distance, the third gives clues as to what you need do in order to cross the divide (and often an indication as to how). Opening with this question would be like starting a car in third gear – you risk stalling.
Are these the only questions you will use to define the difference between your stories? Almost certainly not. As with all sales meetings there will need to be a blend of defining and probing questions to develop understanding. However the main three questions provide the transactional framework.
So now you know the gap between your stories, the best way to cross it is with information that will change your client’s misperception, right?
You don’t change a story with facts and figures. You change it with a better story. Here are three you might try:
· Parallel Stories
· Contrast Stories
· Future Stories
A parallel story is how you have helped a client who held the same opinion. In essence you are handling a hidden objection without risking confrontation. Just make sure that there is a situational match. One story size doesn’t fit all…
Contrast stories are around staking out the polarities of what you do and don’t do. The advantage is that your definition and value propositions are crisper. It’s also a relatively quick way to dispel misconceptions.
A future story is a description as to how you might work together bearing everything you know about the client along with a timeline. Making your client the hero of the narrative will help position you as the ally and therefore stake out the commercial potential of the relationship. It’s often an effective way to convey value without sounding as though you are simply listing sales features.
Thanks for reading. For further ideas as to how you can tell more compelling sales stories, download the free guide at my website www.gregkeen.co.uk