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Mike Bosworth

Mike Bosworth

What separates your top salespeople from their less-successful peers?

It’s one of the most puzzling — and crucial — questions for today’s sales leaders.

At a typical organization, 13 percent of sales reps bring in 87 percent of the business, according to a Sales Benchmark Index report released in 2008.

Clearly, these top performers are doing something the others aren’t. But what?

The best salespeople intuitively tell spellbinding stories. Stories build trust, which is the foundation of sales success. Without trust, you cannot influence.

Your stories should accomplish three key things:

1. Create an emotional connection with your prospect.

2. Convince your prospect that you have character.

3. Illustrate your competence.

The 4 stories salespeople need

Here are the four specific types of stories that ignite sales conversations:

1. Who I Am: This is the story that reveals why you do what you do. It highlights your passion. This story leads the buyer to believe that you have character.

2. Who I Represent: This is the story of your organization. It leads the buyer to conclude that your company has character and takes care of its clients.

3. Who I’ve Helped: This is the story that shows your prospects that you understand them. It’s your chance to tell them how you’ve helped others with similar needs. You might need more than one of these, especially if you sell to multiple job titles and industries. These stories convince your buyer that you are competent.

4. Lesson Learned: Here the goal is to help your buyer see solutions to common sticking points. In a B2B sales cycle, you might have a lot of sticking points, like “Is the ROI juicy enough?” or “Will we need to hire an outside consultant to help us implement this?” You should prepare stories to address each of these sticking points. These stories reinforce your competence.

How to use stories

Picture this: You’re on a horse. No, wait. You’re at a trade show. You sell manufacturing software, and you’re working the booth. A woman stops by, and you ask her, “What do you do?”

She tells you she’s a materials manager. That right there is solid gold. Once you know her job title, you can tell her a relevant story.

So, you strike while the iron is hot: “Can I share a short story with you about another materials manager we’ve worked with?”

Oh, yes, you most certainly can. She just loves a good story.

And you’re a good storyteller, so you know you only have 90 seconds. Your story should include a setting and a relatable character. It must illustrate your character’s challenges and, ultimately, hope for a solution.

The clock is ticking. No pressure. Go …

So, you tell the story of a materials manager and the challenges he faced in his job with shortages, order cancellations and impossible deadlines. And somewhere in the story, he finally realizes that there’s a better way. There’s some technology that can help him be a lot more effective.

But don’t stop there …

Then, you wrap up your story by talking about how much better this man’s life is a year later. His efficiency and productivity have skyrocketed. He’s working fewer hours, and he gets to spend time with his kids. He shows up to their soccer games wearing face paint and screams like a wild man.

And then you pass the torch to the buyer: “But enough about me. Tell me your story.”

Let your prospect open up and tell you about her own challenges. This will allow you to tend her story and identify potential solutions that will resonate with her.

Find more storytelling tips in my session at the Inside Sales Virtual Summit. You can view it in the video below.

Connect with me on LinkedIn and Google+.

You can find Mike Bosworth’s book, “Solution Selling,” on Amazon.

Get access to all of the information-packed presentations from the Inside Sales Virtual Summit by clicking the image below.

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