I want to tell you about the time I was in a meeting with a Stonebridge Technology salesperson, when he decided to give this analogy to a potential customer:
“Software is like music. You have six notes, and I play them in different ways to accomplish our goals.”
The clients looked at each other, scratched their heads and said, "We'll get back to you next week." They were gone like the wind, never to be seen again.
If you're a wide-eyed wonderer, you've got to think there's a better way to sell customers on your products than the standard salesperson prattle. In The Story Factor, author Annette Simmons explains how story can be used in a variety of business situations. My interest peaked when I read about story as a demonstration.
Stories can be used to show customers the benefits of your product even when your product is invisible. The author provides several examples of stories where it's difficult to see benefits--consider exercise programs.
"If you are selling a good product there are plenty of wonderful stories you can tell. You just have to find them. Stories demonstrate the benefits you promise in a way that promises can't."
Annette also references a story from FastCompany about WhirlPool's new training program. Whirlpool decided their employees needed to experience their products to the point where they could tell stories. “The best salespeople build stories around their products that deliver an entire package of facts and feelings.” Just imagine your mouth watering when you hear the story about how blueberry crisps were perfectly made in a microwave.
Annette explains, "They know from experience that performance statistics from product catalogs and reliability and quality ratings don't sell microwaves. Stories sell microwaves."
Few companies have taken the time to train their staff regarding story, so your company stands out from the crowd when you use story as part of your sales process.
What's more, stories naturally align themselves with the sales process, since a good story starts with a problem and moves to a solution. Customers buy products to either solve a problem or to be entertained. When you create a story to "demo" your product, you accomplish both goals.
Today, when even CEOs have little authority over employees, story can be a powerful influence tool for an executive. Without stories, your statements may ring hollow.