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Sales 101: Become a Story-Seller (Part Two)

Posted by Steven Kelley on Oct 24, 2019 7:30:00 AM
Steven Kelley
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Welcome to part two of our two-part series on story-selling.

I began this blog with the declaration that although I was not a salesperson, as consumer I hold key insights into what constitutes effective selling. Although customers represent only 50 percent of the sales process, they represent 100 percent of the buying process. Therefore insight into the customer persona is invaluable.

Now, if you haven’t read Sales 101: Become a Story-Seller, Part One, you should. It’s informative, an easy read and -as the entrée to this post- provides context and continuity to what follows.

To quote one of my favorite lines from the movie, A Knights Tale, the nefarious Count Adhemar, upon his jousting victory over peasant William, rebukes William’s combat skills, telling him “you have been weighed, you have been measured and you have been found wanting.” In other words, you don’t meet the required standards of quality. I found the poetic eloquence of his insult, verbal art. Having said that, it's not something any of us should ever want to hear.

As a marketer, such sentiments mean that your product or service fails to perform to the customer’s expectation. These first-hand testimonials become your story as told by your customers. Because today’s marketplace is social, everything you do (as seller) or experience (as buyer) is subject to global ‘word of mouth’ exercised via the Internet. Cumulatively, this is story-selling at the macro level. However, it all starts at the micro level - with the customer.

In part one, I mentioned the impact childhood storytelling had on all of us and how those lessons contributed to early developmental learning. Assuming a little creative license, I developed an adaptation of the timeless fable, The Three Little Pigs to lightheartedly illustrate the strategic value of story-selling.

In the story below, the lessons highlight the importance of partnership (salesperson and customer); the value of paying close attention to the front-end of the sales process to understand the bigger picture; and the sustained ROI achieved through serving the customer’s needs (versus the salesperson’s) to provide a long-term, cost-effective solution.

"THE THREE LITTLE PIGS REDUX"

Prologue:

The big bad wolf and the three little pigs are at odds over the pigs' decision to build in wolf's neighborhood. Compounding wolf's NIMBY mindset are his radical activist views on the environment. He is concerned about the impact clear cutting (for wood), open-pit mining (for clay & sand), and poor farming techniques (for hay) is having on his lush green valley. Wolf's failure to minimize the pigs' carbon footprint by blocking their new housing starts, has him 'stewing'. He decides to take matters into his own hands and put an end to their "attacks on mother nature." The pigs catch wind of wolf's distress and move to accelerate their build-outs.

Scene I:  "Strawman"

Salesman 1's (S1) sales strategy was 100 percent transactional. "Strike while the iron's hot" was his motto. He did (and said) whatever was needed to get the sale. When the first pig abruptly came into the store in a panic clamoring for materials, S1 -being the opportunist - used the pig's fears to his advantage; selling him straw that could be immediately used to hide pig 1, sheltering him from the wolf's ire. Taking no time to understand the first pig's long-term needs resulted in a quick sale. He closed the deal with such efficiency, his sales manager gave him the rest of the day off with pay and a hefty commission check.

Scene II:  "Woodworker"

Salesman 2 (S2) was known to be a little more thorough and did his due diligence; he asked a few questions about pig 2's welfare. Dismissing pig 2's wolf-related fears as "overactive paranoia" he only focused on the weather as the immediate threat. S2 recommended wood as an 'ideal choice' and closed the deal that afternoon.

Scene III:  "Stonecutter"

The following day, as pigs 1 & 2 played gleefully on the block, pig 3 was conferring with the store's newest salesperson. The salesperson carefully asked an array of questions to fully understand pig 3's needs. He learned that in addition to security, pig 3 also loathed the cold; requiring extra protection from the area's harsh winters.

Understanding P3's full range of needs, he suggested the more expensive option - brick. Even though the up-front costs were higher, it was the best option. Brick's high R-Factor provided superior insulation against the elements; its reinforced concrete (rebar) was resistant to intruders, and the fireplace -included at no extra charge- provided added warmth and ambiance. As a thank you, salesman 3 threw in a large stew pot for "Porkpalooza ’19" planned later that month.

Scene IV:  "Wolfgang Porks"

We all know how the story ends.  After blowing down the straw and wood houses of the first two pigs, wolf came to pig 3's customized brick house. Out of breath from chasing the first two pigs down the street and from multiple unsuccessful blows, he decided to slip in for the kill via the chimney. The thank you gift from the salesman just happened to be on the fire and boiled the wolf. The unexpected ingredient enhanced the flavor of a long time family recipe, and initiated the launch of their new 'Chinny Chin Stew' at Porkpalooza. They went on to become famous chefs hosting their own cooking reality show.

Epilogue:

Seeing the value in their brother's house, pigs 1 & 2 went to their brother's salesman and bought TWO new houses. S3's effort to fully understand the customer's needs, paid dividends. The value demonstrated in the brick house's strength, comfort and personal security was discussed throughout the valley and all over social media. The testimonials of the three pigs went viral, earning S3 a promotion, unprecedented commissions, lifetime customers and a stellar reputation.

THE END

As children, we learned valuable lessons through stories. In business we communicate the value of a service or product most effectively by demonstrating its merits in action. Working with technology's top brands, integrated throughout the channel with VARs, SIs, MSPs etc., as well as individual connectivity with end-users, Tech Data understands what's on the technology horizon and what it means for businesses. Visit us online at techdata.com.

About the Author

Steven Kelley is a senior marketing specialist for Tech Data in Tempe, Arizona. In his role, Steve authors and contributes articles about next-gen technologies and market trends to Tech Data’s corporate blog, Authority, as well as the company’s partner newsletter, The Power of Partnership. Prior to joining Tech Data, Steve managed the marketing, communication and PR duties for a range of businesses in the aviation, defense, energy, hi-tech, and healthcare industries. Steve’s background and profile can found on LinkedIn

 

Tags: sales strategy, Selling, Storytelling, Transactional Sales, Relationship-Based Sales, Three Little Pigs, Strategic Selling, Story-selling

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