Stories help overwhelmed Buyers to overthrow the status quo, and buy.

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With 150 e-mails a day, 30 voice-mails and 60-80-hour work weeks thanks to corporate reorganizations, buyers are so busy today that in order to survive they have learned that they can’t do it all. Consequently, buyers now often stick with the status quo—even when it hurts the company.

Logic Doesn’t Help

Product Pitches, Value Propositions and Logical Arguments do not convince a buyer in denial to change. In fact, the buyer needs you to be wrong in order to protect the status quo and survive.

Even if the seller makes a brilliant logical case for their offering, the buyer’s counter arguments to protect the status quo will always win, because the final judge is in the head of the buyer. Most important, the problem the seller is trying to help the buyer overcome isn’t a logical problem, it’s an identity problem. So, using logic is like throwing a drowning man a fire extinguisher, it doesn’t work, because the seller is using the wrong tool.

Move Buyer from Critic to Participant

So what does work? Provide your salesperson with the right message delivered through mini-stories to help the buyer discover that the status quo is no longer acceptable. These stories work because they present a scenario that allows buyers to develop awareness through their own sense of discovery. Buyers trust this discovery, because they made it, and they begin to trust the Story seller for telling it.

When the buyer can picture the issues in the real world scenario, it helps them see how the results may apply to them, and they start to make sense- they gain insight. Stories transport the buyer from the role of critic into the role of participant. In short, Stories allow the buyer to take your offering out for a virtual mental test drive: Could you ask for more?

The Right Stories Aid Buyer Self-Discovery

Stories need to be short and simple, so that the buyer has time to tell their story, and insightful, so that the buyer discovers that they want to change.

The challenge is that for the stories to be insightful, they need to be relevant to the buyer. Creating insightful and relevant stories is the heart of moving the buyer off of the status quo. These stories must first “sell the problem before the solution” so that the Salesperson is better able to help the buyer to see that what are the problems and costs to their operations in the absence of having the salesperson’s capabilities (cost of status quo), and then show how the salesperson’s capabilities could help the buyer solve their problems and ultimately achieve their goals (benefits of change).

Here’s an example: “How profitable deals later become money losers.”

Maxine, the Supply Chain Director of Asahi Glass, wanted a way to know what orders were truly profitable.

Up until now, the salespeople had been using a static snapshot of profitability.

Maxine, however, was disappointed to see profitable deals later become money losers, because the salespeople would place orders with no insight into how they impacted current capacity nor if their rush order would negatively impact other orders.

Maxine needed to find a way to have a more dynamic view of profitability. Something that was simple for the salespeople to use. What she envisioned was something as simple as booking a flight online; with a number of scheduling options according to price for the customer, and profitability for Maxine’s company.

Maxine finally had enough when a salesperson’s profitable Toyota order quickly turned into a substantial money loser when delayed order penalties forced her company to fly parts into the plant at great expense in order to complete the order.

Fortunately, the Toyota order inspired Maxine to look for a solution, and she found more than what she was looking for with Advance Schedule Corp.

We provided Maxine with the ability to see each potential order’s impact on capacity, and how it affected other orders. But the sales team was over the moon to see that they could even see that if they pooled their orders, they could offer price incentives so they were able to generate more sales with these sales campaigns while maintaining their profitability.

But that’s Maxinel’s story, what’s yours?

When necessary, the seller follows up on the buyer’s story with a few simple quantification questions so that the buyer may cost justify their decision to change.

This is nothing new, just look at the Bible, it’s all about stories. Stories are how we make sense of the world. We know how to tell stories; we just have to make sure we tell the right ones.

Michael Harris

More Information:

  1. 6-Step guide to creating stories that sell.
  2. How to turn your power point sales presentations into a “Buying Simulator.”


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