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2.7 New Era of Selling 2

 

Whether you own your own business, you’re a solopreneur, a social media marketer, or in customer acquisition in a large firm, you’re in sales. You have a product or service. You want others to use it. It’s as simple as that.

Well…I wish it were that simple!

I worked as a sales manager at 3M for over two decades and saw a lot of changes…but those changes have accelerated over the past ten—or even five—years. Now, your potential customers can easily shop around and get to know your offerings and prices (and those of your competitors) before you even have a chance to reach out and engage them.

It’s also a social media-heavy marketing environment, and really hard to predict the next trend. Not to mention, with so many people elbowing for space on social media, it’s tough to get your voice heard.

It’s also a global society. You can hop on Etsy and buy a dress from a Japanese clothing company, or a pair of hiking shoes from Sweden.

In some ways, all these changes are great for consumers—they have a world of knowledge and products at their fingertips—but it’s not so great for small business owners or companies who are struggling to keep up.

HOW on earth do you approach sales in this new era?

I’ll admit, I’m not a marketer. I won’t tell you how to find your potential customers, but I will advise you on your approach once you find them.

Start with these five steps:

1. Believe wholeheartedly in your product

If you aren’t fully behind what you’re offering, it won’t sell. Potential customers are savvy enough to know when you’re not actually enthusiastic about the product you’re selling. Some of the most convincing ads I’ve seen on social media were for product that might seem ordinary (meals in a box, yoga pants, marketing webinars), but they were endorsed by very enthusiastic individuals who seemed to have a genuine stake in their product.

2. Pinpoint your audience with laser focus

Use data (and data analysts) to develop a deep understanding of who your audience is and it will be easier to find them and approach them. I’m talking not just about demographics (which is important, of course), but also your audience’s interests, their frustrations, and what makes them happy. Your product or service solves something. WHO benefits from your solution? When you know who, precisely, that is, you will feel good about selling them something that helps improve their life.

NOTE: You can utilize social media advertising to target people in a VERY narrow way. By having a precise understanding of your audience, you can take advantage of this ultra-targeted marketing.

3. Tell a story

If you’ve ever watched a crowding funding video on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, you know that some of the most successful campaigns are ones that tell a story. It doesn’t have to be a personal story (although that can sometimes be effective); it could simply be the story of Jane Doe who travels for business all the time and can never sleep on the airplane…until she tried the Ultra Amazing Pillow!

When you tell a story in sales, you’ll want to make sure it feels natural (not over-rehearsed or awkward) and is relevant. Your story could be as simple as: “Mr. Jones had X Problem. Product ABC helped Mr. Jones in this way…”

4. Focus on education

This is the era of giving things away for free. Your customers will likely be used to getting free information (online newspapers, blog posts, eBooks, etc.), so why not take advantage of that mechanism? Offer a valuable (key word!) freebie and learn how to effectively use a sales funnel to turn interested individuals into paying customers.

5. Meet face to face

In our fast-paced, digital era, the most surprising “bold” move you can make is moving offline. Now, face-to-face interactions are more valuable than ever. It’s becoming a lost art to sit down with someone, look them in the eye, and tell them about what you do and what you’re offering. If you’re good at it, you will likely have an edge over nearly everyone else who is just playing the digital game.

 

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

 

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the power of storytelling in sales

“A good salesperson knows how to talk; a great salesperson knows how to tell a story.” Rivka Willick, story coach and writer

It is human nature to listen to and trust stories. Ever since we were children, we’ve been surrounded by narratives—on television, in movies, in books, from our grandparents. Sure, stories are fun, but they are also powerful and there are scientific reasons as to why people are attracted to stories. According to neuroeconomics pioneer Paul Zak, “Stories that are highly engaging and contain key elements — including a climax and denouement – can elicit powerful empathic responses by triggering the release Oxytocin. Often referred to as the ‘trust hormone,’ this neurochemical promotes connection and encourages people to feel empathy.”

So, how can you use this powerful technique to gain trust and win sales? Here are a few methods:

  1. Keep it relevant

It’s great if you have an amazing story about fly-fishing in Montana, but is that really what your prospective wants to hear? Instead, focus on the material you’re presenting. How can you bring it to life with a relevant story? Perhaps you have a tidbit about how your product positively affected someone? Or maybe you have an interesting story about the products’ development or value? Brainstorm and jot some ideas down on a notepad. Then, run them by your co-workers or friends to gain their input.

  1. Have a beginning, middle, and end

This point may seem obvious, but it is absolutely crucial. Storyteller Kambri Crews said in an interview with Entrepreneur.com that, “The beginning should hook your audience, while the end, the call to action, must be clear.” If your story is jumbled, your prospective client may have trouble deciphering the main message or become disengaged.

  1. Remember the “elements of a good story”

Sales Benchmark Index has some great advice on using basic storytelling elements to create a compelling tale. They break down a story into the Hero, Stimulus, Conflict, Crossroad, and Moral. Here is an explanation of the elements:

  • Sympathetic main character, AKA the Hero. The audience should be able to see themselves in the hero and the situation.
  • The Hero encounters a Stimulus, which leads them in the direction of resolution or transformation.
  • Tension or a Conflict is exposed. Our Hero now must maneuver challenges and obstacles.
  • Crossroad where the final transformation takes place. In your Use Case this is where the customer purchased your solution.
  • The final chapter in the story is referred to as the Moral of the Story. The Hero has navigated the Conflict and appears transformed in an ideal state.
  1. Practice, practice, practice

Like most things in life, you have to practice your pitch in order to perfect it. First develop it on your own and practice giving your pitch in front of a mirror. Then, practice with others, allowing them to interrupt or make comments (which is likely to happen in a real-life sales situation). Practice sounding natural and unrehearsed and don’t forget to let your body language be relaxed, open, and friendly.

Need help developing your story? Feel free to contact me for guidance.

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