Twelve Ways to Use Stories to Boost Your Sales

January 30th, 2018

Twelve Ways to Use Stories to Boost Your SalesStories are extremely powerful. They can be both informative and persuasive, while being entertaining. And they’re engaging—neuroscientists have discovered that our brains are hard-wired for stories. (That’s why it’s so hard to walk out of a movie, even if it sucks.)

Are you using stories in your sales and marketing efforts? If not, you’re missing out. Here are twelve ways to leverage the power of stories.

1. Advertisements
Tell short stories in your TV and radio commercials, as well as your print ads. Weave them into your direct mail pieces, email campaigns, and brochures.

2. Your Website
While many company websites have a “Case Studies” section, don’t limit your stories to that one place. Sprinkle them throughout your site. On my website, I share two stories: one that illustrates the degree to which I customize my keynote speeches and seminars, and one that provides an example of the results sales teams get with my training. Those stories make my points far better than merely stating what I do.

3. Your Blog
Your company blog is the perfect place to recount all the stories of how you’ve helped clients. It’s also a perfect repository for stories about how your clients have used your products or services to help their customers.

4. Social Media
Social media was made for telling stories. And you can tell them using text, photos, and video! And social media facilitates the sharing of stories, increasing your reach at no additional cost or effort. Enable all of your employees—not to mention all of your customers—to share their stories on your social media channels. You’ll get more attention, more engagement, and more sales.

5. Networking
If what you do—or what your company does—isn’t immediately understandable, tell a short story to help your new acquaintance “get it.” Keep it very short though—telling a long, drawn-out story is not the way to make a good impression on someone you’ve just met.

6. Trade Shows
Trade shows give you multiple opportunities for storytelling:

• In your pre-show marketing
• On and around your exhibit, via text, photos, and video
• Through live presentations
• During your personal interactions with visitors
• Via your marketing collateral and giveaways

7. On-Hold Recordings
If you have to place a caller on hold, you can subject them to the same song over and over again, you can state repeatedly how important their call is to you (which is annoying as hell), or you can tell them stories. Because stories are entertaining, they make the time seem to pass faster. And because stories are informative, they can answer callers’ questions and give them ideas.

8. Press Releases
The media is constantly looking for stories. And while news outlets may not be interested in how you’ve helped clients, they are interested in how you’ve helped the community. What causes do you support? What issues are you fighting for? What are you doing to improve the lives of people in your neighborhood, region, state, country?

Additionally, your employees have stories of their own. What hardships have they overcome? What lessons have they learned? How are they helping others? All of these are tremendous PR opportunities.

9. Sales Presentations
Buyers don’t want products or services. They want results. So tell them about the results you’ve created for other clients. Share stories about previous clients who had the same challenges or goals that your prospect has, and how your product or service impacted them.

10. Follow Up Calls
Sharing a success story with a prospect can be a great excuse for a follow up call or e-mail: “One of our clients just told us a great story and I wanted to share it with you…”

11. Overcoming Objections
Objections are about fear. And one of the best ways to overcome that fear is to tell your prospect a story about a customer who had the exact same fear. You acknowledge the prospect’s fear so they feel understood and validated, while showing them via the story why they can have confidence in the outcome.

12. Closing
Have a prospect who’s on the fence? Often they just need a little nudge to move them to action. And a story can provide the nudge. Relate two or three stories for even greater impact.

Stories are potent sales and marketing tools. And they’re multi-purpose tools at that. Create a database of stories and actively look for ways to incorporate them in all your sales and marketing efforts. The more stories you tell, the more sales you’ll make.

What the Other Side in a Negotiation Wants

January 23rd, 2018

What the Other Side in a Negotiation WantsEvery sale is a negotiation. Some are short and simple, others are long and complex. But one thing all negotiations have in common is that they’re more than just haggling back and forth about price. Your prospect has a number of physical and emotional needs, and the better you can fill them, the faster you can close the deal.

What are those needs? Well, every buyer wants to:

1. Save money
This is the obvious one. And it’s the one that gets salespeople in trouble, because we tend to focus too much on it. It’s important to remember two things, however:

A) Saving money means more than just the purchase price. It also includes accessories, supplies, maintenance, financing, and more. How can you help your buyer save money on the things related to the purchase.

B) The other items on this list are just as important—if not more important—than money. How can you satisfy these other needs?

2. Get the best terms
Fast delivery. Staggered delivery over a longer period of time so they don’t have to store items. Being able to finance rather than pay up front. Priority service. Regular maintenance. Upgrades. Consulting or training. There are lots of things that can add value to a deal. What can you provide that your buyer values?

3. Save time
Negotiating takes time and time is money. Also, the longer the negotiation takes, the longer the prospect has to wait before seeing the benefits of your product or service. How can you speed things along?

4. Reduce risk
Every purchase is a commitment and every commitment carries risk. We all hate risk and want to avoid it whenever possible. Warranties, guarantees, free trials, testimonials, case studies, contracts, and training can all reduce risk for your buyer. Which can you use?

5. Look good
Most buyers have someone they need to report to, whether it’s a spouse, a boss, or shareholders. And they need to be able to make the case to those people that they made a good decision. They’re being judged on the deal they made, and they dread being berated like Jack’s mother yelling at him for trading the family cow for some magic beans. How can you make your prospect look good in the eyes of the people they have to account to?

6. Feel good
You relationship with your customer depends largely on how they feel after the negotiation is finished. Everyone wants to feel like they got a good deal. But people also want to feel important, special, cared about, valued, appreciated. The more they feel that way, the more likely they are to refer you to others. And future negotiations become faster and easier. How can you make your buyers feel good about the company, the buying process, and the deal they got?

Negotiating—like everything else in the sales process—is about people more than products. Understand that buyers have a variety of needs and wants, and that you can fulfill many of them with little effort and little to no cost. When you address both your prospect’s physical and emotional needs, you pave the way to a faster, smoother, more successful negotiation. That means more sales and happier customers. Which is exactly what you want.

13 Things You Need to Hate In Order to Succeed In Sales

January 16th, 2018

13 Things You Need to Hate In Order to Succeed in SalesLove is great and everything, what with it being a many-splendored thing, and conquering all, and making the world go round. And in fact I’ve discussed previously the value of love in your sales efforts.

But hate is also a powerful emotion. And it has its place in sales as well. Here are thirteen things it is perfectly okay for you to hate:

1. Losing
2. Wasting time
3. Lying
4. Manipulative, high-pressure sales tactics
5. Being bored
6. Missed opportunities
7. Seeing people being disrespected or treated badly
8. Excuses
9. Not knowing things
10. Seeing people being taken advantage of
11. Being late
12. Letting people down
13. Complacency

Note that one item that’s not on this list is “Your Competition.” That’s because you shouldn’t hate them. As a general rule, you should like and respect them. After all, they push you and your company to be better, which benefits your customers.

Hate isn’t always a bad thing. In the right context, it can be a powerful motivator to enhance your knowledge and skills, and better serve your customers. So let your hatred of the above items drive your quest for self-improvement and higher sales. Let’s give hate some love.

Are You Taking Enough Time Off?

January 9th, 2018

Are You Taking Enough Time Off?You’ve set your business and sales goals for the year: a prospecting goal, a closing rate goal, a revenue goal. But have you set a vacation goal? If you haven’t, you absolutely should.

Too many people don’t take enough vacations. One recent study found that 75% of Americans don’t take all of their paid vacation days, while another study found that nearly 42% of Americans don’t take any vacation days.

If you’re in either of those two populations, you’re hurting yourself and your sales.

It’s tempting to think that working more hours makes you more productive and thus, more successful. Yet science has conclusively proven the opposite is actually true. Dozens of studies have discovered that taking vacations:

• Reduces Stress
• Sharpens focus
• Enhances performance
• Sparks creativity
• Creates new perspectives
• Strengthens family relationships
• Boosts physical health
• Improves mental health
• Prevents burnout

Worried that taking more days off will hurt your chances of getting a raise and/or promotion? To the contrary. A study by Project: Time Off found that employees who take all of their vacation time increase their chances of getting promoted and getting a raise by 6.5% versus those who leave 11 or more days of vacation time on the table.

Still not convinced? Okay. In his book The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor makes the case for the link between vacations, brain health, and success, concluding: “When the brain can think positively, productivity improves by 31%, sales increase by 37%, and creativity and revenues can triple.”

All of this means, if you want to make more sales—and more money—you need to take more vacations. So I ask you again, are you taking enough time off?

Nine Ways to Make More Sales This Year

January 2nd, 2018

Nine Ways to Make More Sales This YearIf “Make more sales” is on your New Year’s Resolutions list (and I’m betting that it is), the question becomes “How, exactly?”

The good news is that there are lots of ways. Here are nine simple ones you can implement immediately:

1. Do more prospecting
If you want more sales, you need more prospects. Whether that means going to more networking events, spending more time on LinkedIn, joining a leads group, or just picking up the phone and making more calls, what can you do to put yourself in touch with more people?

2. Position yourself as an expert
People prefer to buy from an authority in the field. So demonstrate your authority. Write blog posts and LinkedIn articles. Tweet useful information. Deliver speeches and workshops. Post videos on YouTube.

3. Learn more about your customers
Sure, you know your product. But do you know your customers? Most salespeople don’t ask anywhere near enough questions. As a result, they don’t fully understand the prospect’s needs, issues, concerns, values, and priorities. That can lead to delays, missed opportunities, and lost sales. Ask more questions.

4. Polish your presentation skills
A great presentation arouses a prospect’s interest, provides them the information they need, and makes them want to buy now. A poor—or even mediocre—presentation costs you the sale. Read up on what makes a compelling presentation. Join Toastmasters to practice your presentation skills. Or work with a presentations coach to get better in every aspect of presenting.

5. Conduct better follow up
Most buyers take time to make a decision. But too many salespeople give up on a prospect too soon. Which means they often lose sales they could have made if they had just been a little more persistent. Follow up with every prospect consistently for as long as it takes.

6. Check in with your existing customers
Your best source of new sales is your existing customer base. They already know you, like you, and trust you. Find out if and how their needs have changed. Would they be better off upgrading to a new or better product or service? Do they have needs you never know about that you could solve? Do you have products and services they were unaware of? There are opportunities galore among your existing customers if you look for them.

7. Ask for more referrals
While you’re on the phone—or at lunch—with your customers, ask them for referrals. If you’ve taken good care of your customers and they’re happy with your product or service, they want to refer you. You just have to ask.

8. Delegate
All of these strategies require time, which you only have a finite supply of. So if you’re going to add something to your plate, you need to subtract something. Delegate whatever you can to free up time for the activities that only you can do.

9. Sharpen your sales skills
The sale doesn’t usually go the best product or service. It doesn’t usually go the cheapest product or service. The sales usually goes to the best salesperson. And if you want that person to be you, you need to invest in yourself. Buy every sales book you can get your hands on. Watch videos and webinars. Attend training seminars and workshops. Hire a sales coach. One single idea, one simple tweak, one crucial insight, can make a huge difference in your sales.

There you go—nine things you can do to boost your sales this year. Pick a few of these strategies and start right now. Make a plan and implement it. Get your sales manager or a colleague to hold you accountable. And adjust as needed.

Make this your best year ever!