Storytelling For Sales Challenge. Lesson 1

Lesson 1 – Start With the End in Mind

Do You Have an Aversion to Doing ‘Sales Work’?

Some people love to grind and hustle.  Others avoid it like the plague (or COVID!).

I am not a born salesperson. I struggled with it for many years.

Indeed, the boss fired me from my first sales job, and I was mediocre at best in my second, doing door to door sales (I lasted six months). I kept saying to myself, ‘I’m not cut out for sales work.’

There are different ways to overcome the problem, and if we’re running a business, overcome it we must.  Eventually, I overcame most of my hang-ups about doing sales work when I discovered the conversational selling method.

Today I am happy to promote myself and get my messages out there, but many people struggle to shine their light.

That’s why I decided to run this 5-day Challenge, Storytelling For Sales.  If you’re not using stories in your marketing, it probably costs you a bunch of money in the form of lost sales.

It is also a perfect way for non-sales types to promote themselves.  Let’s get started.

Problem Solved – Don’t Sell, Tell Stories Instead

Why do we love stories? Stories let us live vicariously through the storyteller’s eyes; they take us on a journey of discovery and adventure.

Stories are recognizable patterns, and in those patterns, we find meaning. They give us clarity when we had none before. We use stories to make sense of our world and to share that understanding with others.

One of the things I learned early on was to tell stories to bring the product to life.

Back then, I was selling life insurance. A dry topic, and unless I used stories to illustrate the points I was making, people would tune out.

So, I’d share happy customer stories, including stories of widows and widowers who kept their families intact after a spouse had died.  Stories are enormously powerful if told well. And it has always been like this.

From time immemorial, people have been captivated by stories. Why? Because stories inspire, challenge, provoke, and give comfort.  Starting as infants, we become immersed in stories. But as we mature and become adults, stories still infuse our thinking.

Stories appear in different forms and inhabit different areas of our lives:

  • Work-based stories
  • The story of brands
  • Family stories
  • Nation-building stories
  • Morality Stories
  • To name a few

People have been telling stories since Adam was a boy. Or was it earlier?  Well, Neanderthals told the first stories.

Anyway, you can read more about the history of stories and related topics by reviewing my blog post, How To Influence and Persuade With Powerful Story Telling.

“We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.” — Jonathan Gottschall, The

Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

A Simple Business Storytelling Structure You Can Use Right Now

First up, a change in orientation is required. It’s time to turn the traditional ‘look at me, I’m the best’ model on its head.

From this point forward, you’ll be using simple stories to engage, provoke, and seduce people to do business with you.  Instead of putting you and your business at the center of your business story, it’s better to put your customer first.

Build narratives around your customers and their journey.  And here is excellent news: if you do it right, you will sell truckloads of products and services.

Ready for the journey ahead? Great, dive in.

Think of Your Customer as the Hero

If we borrow from the Hero Journey concept, we see that Hero’s face obstacles and opportunities.  How they handle them will largely determine the outcome.  Here is a pic showing the different stages of the Hero’s Journey:

Start With the End In Mind

What problems do you solve, and how will you share the good news?  Start by calling out the issues.

If you have a website, list the problems on your home page. Also make a song and dance about your Big Promise, condensed into a single statement. On social media, you will do it with focused posts.

If you’re attracting the right people (i.e., the people who are trying to solve the problems you can solve), your content will hit the spot for the reader. Done correctly, they will think you are talking directly to them.

ASSIGNMENT

Answer these questions:

  1. What problems do you solve? Name three.
  2. Why should I buy from you? Say it in three sentences or less.
  3. How have you been sharing the good news (about the problems you solve) until now?

REPORTING:

Share your answers to the above question in the Sales Hacks Group.  Preface your post with this heading: ‘Lesson 1 Homework’.

NEXT LESSON:

LESSON 2 – Who Is Your Hero?

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BONUS SECTION – Copywriting Tips 1

 1). Ignore Old-Fashioned Rules

Forget what you learned in school. When it comes to creating marketing-oriented content it’s ok to break some of the rules you may have learned at school. So, eliminate formal language. I always tell my students and clients to write as you speak but clean up the grammar, and spelling. And yes, it’s ok to start a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but.’ Even the word ‘so’ can work. See the next point as I expand on the topic of user-friendly content.

2). Use Everyday Language

Unless you’re targetting intellectuals, it’s better to speak to the proverbial ‘man in the street.’ Use everyday language and do not talk above people – nothing turns them off faster than pomposity and cant (‘hypocritical and sanctimonious talk’)

What about slang words? Used properly they can work well. Let’s face it, most people use slang every day of the week when talking to friends and colleagues. I regularly use these words when I write. Words such as Golly, Crikey (Aussie word), Holy Cow, Kapow, Heck, and Crap – are amongst my favs.

3). Who Is Your Target Market?

You can’t hunt for business unless you know your target audience. Just as a cheetah knows the quarry he is searching for, you must have the same surety. Without clarity you are toast. Lack of clear thinking undermines your confidence and robs you of your superpower.

So, who are you looking for? I suggest you write a profile of your ideal customer or client. What are their defining characteristics? Perhaps you can delve into your customer list and identify those customers that gave you the most joy – emotionally, intellectually and, of course, financially.

Look for common characteristics of the people you want to target. This is a vital step because without it you can’t laser target your messaging. To be clear, your aim should be to stimulate the reader to say to themselves, ‘he’s talking to me.’ And if your reader has a life-changing epiphany as a consequence, all to the good.

Which brings me back to the core point. If you aren’t crystal clear about your target audience (and what turns it on) you cannot give readers the light bulb moments they crave. See the next point for more ideas about matching your message with your market.

4). Focus On Your Audience

Invoke WIIFM – What’s in it for me? Do it, and you’ll hit the sweet spot with your target audience every time. A master motivator and sales trainer, Zig Ziglar, said this: ‘You can get everything you want if you help other people get what they want.’ Amen to that, brother Zig.

So when you create content always write with your audience in mind. What turns them on and gives them grief? When you know it, you can tailor your message to suit. Your goal? Score a bullseye with your reader, every time.

Remember this:

People don’t care about you – they think about themselves. So if you’re smart you’ll play the WIIFM game for all its worth. Yeah, baby.

More tomorrow.

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