Sales with a serving of Storytelling

People don’t buy for logical reasons they buy for emotional reasons- Zig Ziglar

1001 Arabian Nights

Are you sitting comfortably?

The art of storytelling is losing traction in the increasingly fast paced Dubai life but its sales people could still benefit from this ancient tradition. As a consumer, try to remember the last major purchase you made. What role did the salesperson play in your decision making? What persuaded you to buy that product? Successful salespeople know how to tell a good story. They appeal to your emotions using a variety of techniques. Perhaps you just haven’t met a really good salesperson in a while if you don’t agree at all?

All stories need some basic elements in order to succeed. A hero or heroine ( the customer or you!); stimulus ( a buying decision); conflict ( objections); crossroads ( when a purchase is made) and finally a good moral (satisfaction in making the right decision).

There are a number of situations a salesperson can find themselves in in which it will be appropriate to tell a story involving these elements. They may need to provide context for their product which resonates with the customer, they may be presenting their product to an audience, motivating a sales team or even selling themselves.

The benefits of storytelling are numerous. They can captivate and hold the attention of clients; build rapport and trust; add interest and relevance to a product; change minds and win loyalty. There is Science behind it too. When we are told a rich story full of relevancy, the sensory, creative and more emotional right side of our brain is stimulated. If only the left side is engaged, as experienced during a dull sales presentation, we make more logical buying decisions. A story simply put helps the customer experience your product and emphathise with the seller.

So how can this help you? Perhaps you think you are not a great storyteller. I assure you, you are better than you think. We tell stories every day to our families and friends. Sometimes we tell them stories they may have told us. You need to sit down and think about your product. Connect your story to your product, it should be personal. Your story could also be about you, your company history, a customer’s experience with your product or even how you create your product. Just don’t forget the tenants of storytelling and dispense with bullet points, they don’t engage and produce emotion. Running your story by someone won’t hurt either the best raconteurs have told their stories a few times!

100 metre sprint

Are you ready to win from the get go?

Start-ups face a huge number of hurdles, but biggest is how to sell their products from the get go. Whether you’re at the pencil and paper stage or have already leased a unit in the Dubai Mall, it’s never too late (or early) to get your sales plan in place.

Have a target

Your sales should be integral to your business plan. How much stock, or how many hours of time, do you need to sell to make your business profitable. Working off that you’ll have a more realistic idea of the sales task ahead of you, than from just guessing.

Know your customers

You might not have any customers right now, but you need them, and plenty of them to make your business succeed. So figure out what type of person is going to be interested in what you’re selling. Are they young, middle aged, older? Do they have a high disposable income, or are they looking for products that will last. Are you selling to small businesses with tight budgets, or international corporations who naturally distrust new companies?

By establishing your target market, you can build a profile of who they are, where they’re based and how to approach them.

The Approach

Everyone responds differently to a sales approach, and you have to adjust your style to suit your market.

A start up sales person has a steep climb to the top of a big corporate but if you’ve worked hard enough to secure a meeting, being creative and respectful in your approach will ensure you’re more likely to be remembered. Practice your presentation and make sure your product looks as good as it possibly can. One entrepreneur turned up at a big supermarket with his product beautifully wrapped for the prospective customer to enjoy opening – the effort and the solid quality of the product was appreciated and the supermarket rolled it out across all their stores.

Selling a less tactile product like a service is more difficult as the customer can’t touch it. However, great design and an easy to grasp outline of features can be a real winner.

If you’re selling from a shop, make sure it looks enticing. People will always try a new shop if it looks great. A tatty frontage, poorly laid out store is a major turn-off. If you can afford to employ a shop designer, do. They’re skills and knowledge will increase your turnover and profits.

Don’t be afraid to ask

The ‘Ask’ in sales can be a real hurdle for start-up businesses. You may have a great idea but asking people to buy into your dream can be daunting. But you have to get over that fear. Without asking people outright to buy your product, your business is going to fail.

Hire talent

Your sales people are incredibly important to the success of the business, so it makes sense to hire the best you can find. Do a full check on people, talk to their previous employers to ensure their boasts of big sales are true.

Go on a course

If your budget is too tight to hire in talent, and you’ve not got any experience yourself, invest in a sales course. As a start-up, you can’t afford to step into a sales meeting with your perfect client without the sales tools to cope with the situation.