Today’s post is by Ken Valla, President and Co-Founder of The Valla Group, a modern sales training organization. Follow The Valla Group’s LinkedIn page for sales effectiveness insights.
Perhaps you’ve heard the old saying, “This product sells itself.” Unfortunately, B2B products don’t sell themselves, and enterprise selling efforts often fall flat precisely because salespeople over-emphasize product-focused sales interactions. Thus the reason most customers do not want to meet with salespeople during the early stage of a buying process: Sellers don’t bring value to the conversation!
At a foundational level, salespeople create value when they share insights that cause buyers to rethink their approach to key business challenges. Doing this goes a long way toward earning the right to influence your buyer’s decision-making process.
Types of Insights
It stands to reason, then, that sharing insights requires more than a confident attitude. To gain respect and confidence from your buyers, you need to become an effective storyteller in your conversational sales approach and share a point of view that resonates with your buyer. Read on to find out how to do these effectively.
Storytelling in Conversational Sales
Virtually every B2B website is full of case studies that are typically focused on ROI, usually at the expense of differentiation. These are, for the most part, the same customer stories that salespeople share with buyers: long on products and results, but short on business focus, differentiation, and insights.
Unlike typical case studies, effective storytelling is a key part of a conversational sales approach. It focuses on each buyer’s unique journey, and it demonstrates your knowledge and experience working with organizations who share similar business issues as your buyer. Each story should be concise and well organized, uniquely relevant, and involve a relatable character. It should have a beginning, middle, and end, and convey a clear, easily understood point.
Another attribute of an effective story is that unlike the conventional wisdom, it can include both positive and negative experiences. Share lessons learned from approaches that worked, and also share insights about hurdles—both minor and major—that required new approaches, and the lessons learned from those experiences. Buyers know that solving business problems can get messy, and they respect salespeople who demonstrate that they’ve been there, learned important lessons, and helped their customers get through it.
Sharing a Point of View
The value of sharing stories in conversational sales is that a good story gives you credibility, but that’s useful only if you follow it up with a perspective that adds value. Knowing what a similar client went through without relating it to your buyer is a lost opportunity. By adding your point of view, you can elevate the conversation beyond your product to focus on their business. Buyers want this perspective; they often pay consultants to share the same information about competitors and markets that good salespeople encounter every day. The key to synthesize in-field experiences—both individual and organizational—into a point of view that resonates with your buyer. How do you do it? There are two paths:
- State a position that strongly advises a customer to follow a specific approach. A position is aggressive by nature, asserting to the buyer that there’s one right way to achieve their business result. It’s like coming to a fork in the road—you have to go one way or the other.
- Share a perspective, which demonstrates knowledge of several different approaches, providing insights into the tradeoffs among them. Returning to the driving metaphor, it’s like coming to a four-way stop—different paths will lead to different results, and you can help them choose the best option for their needs.
Which point of view you choose to share depends on the situation, your credibility, and your understanding of where the buyer is in their decision process. As a result, you can’t take a cookie-cutter approach to establishing a point of view.
By incorporating effective storytelling and a well-considered point of view in your enterprise selling efforts, you’re much more likely to establish credibility among senior-level buyers. Keep in mind that today’s B2B sales involve many stakeholders, so you must be prepared to share insights in your conversational sales interactions that are germane to the unique business interests of each stakeholder.
To learn more about sharing insights to gain credibility with buyers, click here.