ways of improving sales

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By Steve Schmidt, Partner

“If you want to interact effectively with me, to influence me, you first need to understand me.” – Steven Covey

A powerful statement. Simple and eloquent, profound and meaningful.

Taken a step further, we might add that you also need to understand yourself. After all, you can’t really communicate effectively with someone else without first recognizing how you prefer to communicate—and how you may be perceived by that person as a result.

But once you have the foundation, the bigger leap—one that only a few truly master—is to understand and adapt to the person you’re communicating with. That’s where your biggest opportunity lies.

As most of us are keenly (and perhaps, at times, painfully) aware in our relationships outside of work, people view the world through different lenses. This, in turn, affects how they communicate and like to be communicated with. We do our best to work through the communication challenges because, as much as technology has infiltrated everything our daily lives, we still strive for those personal connections.

The same applies in the workplace. New technologies and fads come and go, but being able to understand what your customers value most and then being able to effectively communicate with them from that vantage point is often what differentiates you and your organization from your competition. It’s also what forms the basis of strong, sustainable customer relationships.

A Corporate Executive Board study found that 53% of customer loyalty is driven by the sales experience. This supports the notion that perceptions are reality. So an important question for you to think about is this: How are you perceived by those you’re communicating with? Your ability to connect with people certainly weighs on that perception.

And the next question is, are you doing everything you can to build deeper, trust-based relationships?

The Behavior Styles Connection

You probably have some familiarity with the concept of Behavior Styles. It’s literally been around forever. Even Socrates grasped the value of understanding different behavioral approaches as he helped shape Western philosophy and evolved his Socratic method. The Behavior Styles Assessment, which reveals your personal Behavior Style and helps you understand the Behavior Styles of colleagues and customers, gives you a way to create personal chemistry and build rapport with diverse people—fundamental skills in sales, management, personal relationships and everyday life.

Let’s take a closer look at how Behavior Styles can help you strengthen customer relationships and improve your sales effectiveness.

In his classic book The Loyalty Effect, Frederick F. Reichheld says that the best way to move from transactional, rational dialogue to a more meaningful exchange is to focus on creating an emotional bond. When you communicate in such a way that your clients and co-workers feel valued, the outcomes of your conversations will yield better returns.

Easier said than done? Well, with the right level of awareness and commitment, anyone can master the ability to sell, serve and coach others by understanding and adapting to different Behavior Styles. The information you learn about their Behavior Styles can help you shortcut the process of connecting with them in a more personal and meaningful way.

A rule of thumb is to follow the three A’s:

  • Awareness of your personal communication preferences and how you may be perceived by others
  • Alignment of your communication strategy to another’s, once you determine their primary Behavior Style
  • Action, including successfully adapting on the fly as you communicate with others

The Compound Effect of Loyalty

Why should you bother? Ultimately, your ability to communicate effectively with clients and prospects—to move from transactional to emotional conversations—is what can move them from neutral to satisfied to loyal. And once you reach a true “partner” status, that loyalty will compound itself. Your loyal, fully engaged clients are not only willing to spend significantly more wallet share, they’re also the ones who will go to bat for you, becoming your best sources of referrals and new business.

No matter how much technology evolves, sales is a business of relationships. Having meaningful conversations that engage people in a way that they value is always going to be one of your most powerful selling tools. And that means you have to understand their Behavior Style so that you can focus in on what they care about most.

How many of your customers are fully engaged? How might more effective, engaging communication (as defined by the customer) help you achieve both your goals and theirs?

If you’re a leader seeking that competitive advantage, ask yourself this: What am I doing to equip my team to maximize every interaction?

 

Re-blogged from Integrity Solutions

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Sales training

Originally contributed as a guest blog on SellingPower.com

By Mike Esterday

If you’re like most sales leaders, you’re constantly hunting for the “secret sauce” of sales success. You’re convinced that, once found, that secret sauce will put your organization over the top – and into the rarefied group of consistently top-performing companies.

Look no further. Chances are good that you already have all the ingredients you need. You’ve just added them to the sauce in the wrong proportions.

We recently conducted a research study in partnership with the Sales Management Association to find out what top-performing companies focus on that’s different from the others. The answers were revealing and, in some cases, surprising.

We surveyed leaders at more than 200 sales organizations. We asked them to rate how a salesperson’s achievement drive – that is, their attitudes, beliefs, and passions – affects their performance. Likewise, we asked the same of them about how a salesperson’s product knowledge and selling skills affect performance.

Here’s what may surprise you: More than 80 percent of the respondents rated achievement drive as being of equal or greater value than product knowledge and selling skills in terms of positively impacting sales performance. However, only a quarter of the respondents said they were very effective in delivering sales training that focuses around achievement drive.

That is a tremendous gap between importance and effectiveness on what is potentially the most important driver of sales success.

Here’s the kicker: Those who said they were effective at focusing sales training on achievement drive reported 20 percent stronger results than everyone else.

What about you? Does your sales training emphasize achievement drive and ignite motivation?

What’s Causing the Gap?

If so many executives recognize the value of achievement drive, then why don’t more companies address it in training?

Well, ostensibly, it’s just plain easier to provide salespeople with product information and techniques on what to say and when – and then manage numbers and activities.

But relative ease is only part of the story. In fact, there are plenty of ways leaders rationalize focusing on skill and product training – even when they agree that attitudes and achievement drive play a bigger role in performance.

Based on our study, here are the top four reasons sales leaders ignore attitude and achievement drive in sales training:

  1. Skills and product training are just easier to deliver and measure.
  2. We expect people to have this already when they’re hired.
  3. The subject matter is too personal for corporate training or coaching.
  4. We’ve never done this type of development in our organization.

This isn’t to say that training on product knowledge and selling skills isn’t important. But it will only take your team (and your organization) so far.

When training goes beyond product knowledge and techniques – when it gets to the motivating attitudes that increase achievement drive – that’s where your competitive edge lies.

Top Performers Focus on These Three Critical Conversations

So, what advice can we take away from the lessons of the top-performing companies in our study?

We learned there are three critical conversations every salesperson must focus on for the organization to consistently realize its growth goals:

  1. The conversation I have with my customers – How will I interact in ways that are seen as valuable by customers? This is where training around selling skills/methodology, account strategy, and product knowledge falls.
  2. The conversation I have with myself – Those moments of reflection, inner belief, and personal values are sometimes seen as “intangibles,” but the impact on performance is quite real. This is where training focused around achievement drive comes into play.
  3. The conversation I have with my coach – One of the key determining factors for growth is coaching. However, when and if sales coaching actually happens, it’s nearly always focused on how to improve the first conversation – a salesperson’s ability to interact effectively with the customer. It rarely addresses the other critical conversation, the one that salespeople are having all the time – with themselves.

This holistic approach to development requires ongoing commitment from the top and alignment throughout the organization. But, as our research shows, it can be the turbocharger for your success.

When you think about it, it’s not all that surprising. After all, who among us hasn’t felt the undeniable power of self-belief and self-drive? And who wouldn’t want to work for a company that is committed to developing people in a way that unleashes their inner drive and potential? And, just as important, who wouldn’t want to do business with a company that values each salesperson as a whole person – not just a selling machine?

Take a closer look at your sales training approach. Are you missing any of the key conversations that could be the “secret sauce” of your sales success?

 

Re-blogged from Integrity Solutions.

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By Bruce Wedderburn

As a sales leader, you’re there to make a difference—a difference in team performance. You’ve looked at the range of experience on your team and seen multiple opportunities for growth, so you immediately implemented the latest sales and marketing thinking to pave the way for double-digit gains over the next 12 to 24 months. It’s the kind of vision and take-charge leadership that has impressed organizational leadership.

The only problem is, the expected sales gains from your initiatives have been slow to materialize. As the months have progressed, others in the organization have begun expressing doubts about your strategy. Worse still, you’re beginning to have your own doubts.

This isn’t unusual. As organizations look for organic growth in increasingly competitive markets, leaders are searching for the latest technology, the next app, that one competitive strategy that will elevate them above their peers. But despite all of the new advances and approaches, the reality remains: Your salespeople still have to have conversations with customers.

Another sobering reality? More than any other factor, the quantity and quality of those conversations will determine whether or not your organization reaches its sales goals this year.

We recently conducted a research study in partnership with the Sales Management Association, and the findings were illuminating. We learned that there’s not one but three critical conversations every salesperson must focus on for the organization to consistently realize its growth goals. Improving any one of these will increase your team’s productivity. Improve all three and you’re on your way to a breakout year.

Here’s what those conversations are:

  1. The conversation that salespeople have with their customers. Customers have more access to more information than ever before, and that’s driving increased commoditization in your industry. As a result, your customers’ perception of “value” has shifted from what you’re selling to how you’re selling. In other words, your salespeople’s interactions are where the real value is today—the value that will differentiate you from the competition. It’s in these critical conversations that salespeople can move the discussion away from price and begin building the elusive “Trusted Advisor” status in the customer’s mind. Succeeding with this conversation is mostly about your salespeople’s skillset.
  1. The conversation that salespeople have with themselves. These are the conversations that all of us have dozens, if not hundreds, of times each day. We each have a set of inner beliefs about who we are and the level of success we deserve to enjoy. Countless external influences over the course of our lives—parents, friends, relatives, teachers, co-workers, clients, spouses, good experiences, negative ones, highs, lows—have contributed to these beliefs and shaped who we are, our level of confidence and what we say to ourselves about ourselves. For salespeople, this inner talk affects what level of buyer they will call on, how many customer meetings they will have, how they feel about prospecting, how they respond to being coached, their vision for their career, how they handle rejection, how they handle success, whether or not they will improve, and the hundreds of experiences that make up a sales or management career. This all affects a person’s attitude and confidence. Succeeding with this conversation is mostly about the salesperson’s mindset.
  1. The conversation that salespeople have with their coach. Coaching is a key determining factor for growth and one of the great buzzwords of our times. However, when and if sales coaching actually happens, it’s nearly always focused on how to improve the first conversation—a salesperson’s ability to interact effectively with the customer. It rarely addresses the other critical conversation, the one that both salespeople and managers are having all the time—with themselves.

What the Pros Know About Success

Professional athletes know that the three S’s— stamina, strength and stretching—are essential for success, and so they constantly work at training and developing all three. Most recreational athletes, on the other hand, work at improving only one or occasionally two of these critical fitness qualities.

In the same way, all three success conversations can and should be constantly developed. Your salespeople’s skillset and mindset can both be improved through training and coaching. And when their skillset and mindset are working together, supported by effective coaching of both, your sales organization will be on the way to new levels of success and satisfaction.

Too many organizations look to external factors such as new technologies and the latest fads for the answers to growth. That’s like a professional tennis player who looks to the latest advances in racquet string technology, cloud-based ball tracking systems and energy-rebounding shoe design while overlooking the importance of improving foot-speed, confidence and fitness.

Without mastering what’s most important, the rest doesn’t matter.

What conversations are your salespeople having?

 

Re-blogged from Integrity Solutions

 

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There isn’t a sales person alive today who doesn’t know that they shouldn’t be selling product, but instead should be selling to help meet the needs of their customers.  The problem is that, despite this, customers are still reporting a very low level of value from time spent with sales people. Why the disconnect?

As customers, we’ve all been on the receiving end of one or more of the common selling strategies. Here are a few you’ve probably seen:

  • A product focus is when salespeople spend most of their time showing and talking about their product or service, its features, advantages and benefits. Objective: Help people understand their product or service so that they’ll want to buy it.
  • A transaction focus is used by salespeople whose main goal is to “get people to the yes”-in other words, to agree to buy whatever they’re selling. Objective: Make the sale, whatever it takes.
  • A customer-needs focus is when salespeople go through a discovery process to determine if customers have needs, wants, problems or objectives they want filled, satisfied or solved. Objective: Establish a need before initiating any selling activity.

Thinking back to your experiences as a customer, how did you feel in these different scenarios? Were you bored? On the defensive? Did you learn something about your needs or discover a pressing challenge that you hadn’t even realized existed before? Or did you just want to get off the phone or run for the nearest exit as fast as you could?

With both product- and transaction-focused selling approaches, the salesperson is essentially trying to convince you that this product or this “deal” is so great that you simply must have it. Their success comes down to how effective they are at persuading you to believe their position.

In fact, many salespeople will say they take a customer-needs-focused approach, but their actions say otherwise. You can tell because they’re still falling back on this idea that they need to sway you or influence you to do something (the implication being that it’s something you don’t really want to do). No wonder customers often feel like they need to push back in these situations. It’s basically a battle of wills, one that’s being fought on a simmering ground of doubt and distrust.

With a true customer-needs approach, on the other hand, the salesperson is focused on helping you get a clearer picture of your own situation so that, together, you can identify what the requirements are and how they can best be satisfied. Their success comes down to how effective they are at bringing your true needs to the surface and the overall value they deliver in filling those needs.

Instead of trying to convince you to buy something, these salespeople spend most of their time finding out if you have needs that they can address. No solutions are even offered until your wants or needs have been admitted.

Here’s the kicker: Our research shows that when people sell this way, they can experience a 15 to 30 percent increase in their sales.

To understand why, we have to look at what we know about the art of persuasion: The more we attempt to persuade people, the more they tend to resist us. But the more we attempt to understand them and create value for them, the more they tend to persuade themselves.

What is your focus?

If you’re in sales, one easy way to identify your own central sales focus is to think about how you spend your time when talking to customers.

Do you spend most of your time in the first half of your contact talking about your product or service? Or do you spend most of your time asking questions that focus on the customer’s needs?

In the interview stage of an effective customer-needs-focused selling process, you should be spending at least 80% of the time listening. And when you do talk, it should be mostly in the form of questions and paraphrasing back to customers what they tell you to make sure you understand them. You explore, ask questions and get feedback, and you make no attempt to sell anything until the customer:

  1. admits needs, wants, problems or objectives they want filled, satisfied or solved.
  2. agrees that not only do they have needs but that they are open to solutions.
  3. agrees to talk to you about a solution.
  4. confirms that they can make purchase decisions.

Generally, if they don’t agree to all four of these steps, you probably don’t have a good prospect. Or they aren’t the real decision makers. Or they don’t have a compelling reason to take action. Or they aren’t favorably disposed to buying from you.

Take a closer look at your own approach to make sure you’re truly focused on creating value for your customers rather than wearing them down to buy from you. One of the most important questions you can start with is this:

In your typical selling situations, who does most of the talking?

If it’s you, chances are, your focus is more product-oriented or transactional, and it’s likely keeping you from reaching your full sales potential.

Re-blogged from Integrity Solutions.

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“Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical.” -Yogi Berra

I love that quote. It fits so well into the world of sales, where salespeople are regularly expected to give more than 100%. And while it’s certainly true that half of sales success can be attributed to skills, it’s also true that there is a strong mental component to being “at the top of your game.” In both professions, coaches have to focus on more than just the player’s tactical skills. They need to focus on the whole person: body and mind.

What good coaching looks like?

At CSO insights, we define coaching as “a process which uses structured conversations to help salespeople develop their performance in the short and long term.” I like that definition for several reasons:

  • It focuses on the dialogue that needs to happen between salesperson and manager. Coaching is not about performing the role for the salesperson—a trap many first-time sales managers fall into. Coaching is not about telling what to do. Instead, it’s about asking the right questions to help the salesperson develop adaptive selling skills that allow them to reach ever-higher levels of performance and self-sufficiency in a dynamic selling environment.
  • These conversations are structured, following a proven approach for improving performance in sales and service roles, tailored along the entire customer’s journey. They are not drive-by criticisms that leave the struggling person more demoralized than motivated. Nor are they “atta-boy” comments about good performance that do nothing to turn around problem areas.
  • The focus is on both the short- and long-term performance goals. Coaching that focuses only on the short term will never create sustainable performance improvements.

Our work also emphasizes the need for front-line managers to focus both on managing the activities and coaching the related behaviors that lead to results and can be managed directly. That last component is vitally important. Many new managers make the mistake of focusing on end results, e.g., quota attainment, but not enough on how to get there. In their defense, it’s often not their fault. This is the way they were managed, and they are just modeling the non-coaching behavior of their previous bosses.

The problem is that you can’t really “manage” a quota or revenue. You can only manage the activities and the related behaviors—pre-call prep, adherence to proven sales methodologies, tailoring the value messages, collaborative selling techniques, etc.—that lead to this desired outcome.

The conference on the mound

Baseball isn’t nearly as popular in Europe as it is in the U.S., but given how much traveling I do in America, I’ve watched a game or two. I can’t say that I’ve grasped all the nuances yet, but one aspect of the game fascinates me: the conference on the mound. To me, this is coaching put to the test.

This conference seems to happen most often when a pitcher is struggling. The coach, followed by the catcher, trots out to the mound for a short, private confab with the pitcher. I’m not sure what gets said, but I doubt the coach is instructing the pitcher on the finer points of throwing a curve ball. The time for that has passed. Nor do I think the coach is threatening the pitcher: Strike this guy out or you’re finished! That would hardly be helpful in an already stressful setting.

More than likely, the coach is sharing some perspective on the game that the pitcher doesn’t see because he’s under so much mental stress. It also seems likely that he’s offering a few words of encouragement, maybe even asking the pitcher how he’s feeling, e.g., How’s your shoulder holding out? He wants to make sure the pitcher still feels confident in his ability to perform. It’s the ultimate moment of truth for coaching because there isn’t much time for the discussion, and everyone, including the coach, is under pressure.

Sound familiar?

A typical sales or service coaching session is no less pressure-filled for all involved. And the same strategies that work so well on the mound apply here, too. That’s why Integrity Solutions’ laser-like focus on the mental side of the frontline manager’s coaching responsibilities is so important—and so effective. Their % drivers of high achievment sets a pitch-perfect tone for a productive coaching session by encouraging the coach to create a supportive environment focused on how the person can succeed rather than dwelling on what’s going wrong. Not only does this approach help the person improve their performance, it helps keep their attitude positive and their head in the game.

No matter who the players are, that’s a winning formula.

Tamara-Blue-5-213x220Guest blog contribution
By Tamara Schenk
Research Director, CSO Insights

Reblogged from Integrity Solutions.

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It seems that every time you turn around there’s some new way to communicate. We’ve gone from snail mail to faxing to e-mail to instant messaging to texting to social media. We even have new ways to photo-bomb!

But the customers have spoken, and it seems that in spite of all these technological advances, 79% of them prefer the telephone as their method for interacting with customer service centers.

While it might seem like a computer-savvy customer would prefer the speed and ease of conducting business online without ever having to speak with anyone, it’s hard to argue with a number like 79%.

So, what is it about the telephone that makes it the communication method of choice? Well, the answer is pretty simple: Customers still want a human touch.

According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, the latest research shows that the most effective way to maximizecall-center customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers on an emotional level.

In essence, there are two factors shaping call centers today, and they’re interconnected: Customers prefer to have a phone conversation, and customer “value” is defined by the degree to which a customer feels emotionally engaged during that phone conversation.

How well equipped are your call center agents to adapt to these new realities and execute on this directive from customers?

Smart companies have tossed out the old playbooks that instructed call center employees to recite an impersonal script, get the customer’s name and credit card number as quickly as possible, minimize call time, and move on to the next customer.

Instead, leading organizations are now encouraging their call center employees to connect with their customers. They are emboldened to be problem solvers, to think outside of the box and to gain their customer’s trust. Boilerplate scripts and restrictive efficiency metrics are fading away in favor of meaningful connections.

These agents are building relationships. And those relationships are building loyalty.

When you consider that last year in the U.S. alone, the estimated cost of customers switching service providers due to poor customer service was $1.6 trillion, this just makes good business sense.

But here’s the best part. When you equip your employees to connect with customers as advisors rather than order takers, you instill a sense of pride. They recognize that they are an integral part of the solution. This not only makes their jobs more rewarding, it also increases their engagement and motivation. As a result, they are able to deliver a level of customer service that is completely genuine and demonstrates their compassion and concern. And that means everybody wins—the customer, the company and the call center agents themselves.

Enabling your call center agents to do what they need to do to convert more calls to customers and ensure that they retain those customers is the smart way forward. Equip them to be compassionate, to solve problems, to take ownership, to be human. Give them that sense of pride. Your customers will thank you. And you’ll reap the results.

Re- Blogged From:-

Integrity Solution

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You’ve finally found the perfect app. It’s become one of your most valuable business tools. So when you get a notification that there’s an update available, you immediately download it…only to discover that in the process of updating the app, the company has completely messed up one of its best features.

As a long-time, loyal customer, you decide to submit a ticket to get the issue fixed. (You would have called, but there’s no phone number to be found anywhere). A couple of weeks go by. No response. No visible action. And then one day, you get an email: The problem has been solved, and we’ve closed your ticket.

There’s no reference to the issue—in fact, no way to tell that they’re even referring to your specific issue. But assuming that they are, there’s no information about when the new update will be released, how it will solve the problem or what you should do in the meantime. All you know is that the ticket’s been closed, and only time will tell if the problem was truly resolved.

Well, there’s one other thing you know: As soon as a competitor comes out with another option, you’re going to be first in line to check them out.

While this scenario involves a seemingly automated email exchange, these kinds of problems happen just as frequently when there’s an identifiable human on the other end of the line. But is the service breakdown really the rep’s fault? Or did their company fail them by not equipping them to effectively meet customer needs?

It Takes More Than Words to Build a Customer Service Culture

We value you as a customer. Your business is important to us. Our customers come first.

These are lovely statements, but all too often, those values don’t show up in the everyday behavior of all employees. That doesn’t necessarily mean some people have bad intentions or don’t care about the customers. In many cases, it simply means they haven’t been given a clear process and framework to turn those words into action on a day-to-day and moment-to-moment basis.

While it’s clear that many organizations aren’t spending enough time and money on customer service training, even those that do focus on development for their reps often fail to get the desired impact in the daily work environment. It takes more than product knowledge and a script to help someone be customer-focused. Training, values and culture need to be aligned. A common language and process for how we treat people (whether internal or external customers) is the glue that brings them together.

Customer Service Training and the Value of Process

For customer service training to make a lasting impact both inside and outside the organization, it needs to be grounded in process. Here’s how an effective customer service process will serve the needs of your learners, your culture and your customers:

1- Allows people to bring out their best, day in and day out: The best problem-solving process both enhances what people already do best and enables them to do it more consistently and effectively, because they have that anchor to go back to when they start to veer off course. By helping people align their attitudes and beliefs with the cultural expectations, it also provides a clear path to follow, one that makes the values tangible and actionable.
2- Changes mindsets about problem-solving: A script or product FAQ only skims the surface of a problem. To fully solve the problem and build stronger customer loyalty, you have to go deeper. An effective problem-solving process helps people engage with the customer so they can discover not just the problem but also the true cause of the problem—as well as all the viable options for solving it. And it reminds them to follow up to make sure the solution really worked.
3- Establishes a neutral baseline for accountability: When you have a common framework and approach for how customer service values translate into daily behaviors, you can hire, coach, evaluate and train to it. It’s impossible to coach to everyone’s personality. A process gives you an objective standard and reference point.
4- Makes customer service a cultural requirement rather than a job requirement. At Gulf Power, customer service training isn’t relegated to a specific job title or department. Instead, the company launches with as many divisions and roles as possible—together—to build empathy and create consistent expectations across the board. They know that without buy-in and role-modeling from the top, the culture won’t stick. The common process makes it that much easier for everyone to get on board and on the same page.
5- Creates opportunities to strengthen customer loyalty. While poor customer service can drive customers away, a good process can turn them into your biggest fans. After all, when you’ve solved a customer’s problem effectively and demonstrated through your behaviors and follow-up that you really care, there’s a good chance that customer will be more loyal than one who never had a problem to begin with.
We’re all individuals. We all have different motivations and personalities. And of course, we’re all human—we each have good days and bad days. A process is what keeps you anchored, consistent and aligned with the values the organization advertises to the world. Talking about a customer service culture is important, but a process is what helps create that culture.

Re- Blogged From:- 

Integrity Solutions

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A couple of years ago I was in New York, pitching a deal. It was in one of those fancy New York private equity offices—you get the picture. It’s about a three-hour meeting. Two hours in, there kind of needs to be that bio break, and everyone stands up. The partner running the meeting starts looking really embarrassed. And I realized: he doesn’t know where the women’s room is in his office. So I start looking around for moving boxes, figuring they just moved in, but I don’t see any, so I said:
"what Is Your Story" Handwritten With White Chalk On A Blackboar“So, did you just move into this office?”

He said, “No, we’ve been here about a year.”

And I said, “Are you telling me that I’m the only woman to have pitched a deal in this office in a year?”

And he looked at me, and he said, “Yeah…or maybe you’re the only one who had to go to the bathroom.”
Nearly 5.5 million people have viewed Sheryl Sandberg’s TED Talk from 2010. While she provides plenty of statistics and data to back up her arguments about why we have too few women leaders, it’s the stories that people remember. It’s the stories that have the live audience (and probably those watching the video) cheering and laughing, breaking into applause. It’s the stories she tells that illustrate the issue and make an impact with the listener—and make the listener want to share those stories with others, too.

This isn’t just an isolated example. Research has shown that we’re 22 times more likely to remember and internalize a story than a series of facts or bullet points. That’s because stories get your whole brain working, not just the language processing parts. As your brain works through the story, it’s almost as if you’re experiencing those events yourself.

Not only that, when you tell a story, your brain and the brain of your listener can actually get into sync.

We talk about the importance of congruence in our sales training and other programs, and there isn’t a better example of congruence than what happens with storytelling. Not only do stories engage, inspire and make the point in a way that data dumps and endless Powerpoint presentations simply don’t, they bring you and your audience into alignment.

What a powerful concept to put into practice, especially when you think about how you communicate with customers, employees or anyone else that you need to connect with and find a mutual point of value.

So whether you’re in a sales role or you just want to be more effective communicator—someone who powerfully demonstrates the value you create and the solution you are proposing—here are 4 tips for structuring and delivering your story:

1. Have a Goal.

Consider:

What is your audience’s behavioral style?
What are my listener’s needs, desires, or challenges?
What solution do you want to demonstrate?
How does the story reinforce the company’s or your personal brand?

2. Grab Attention.

Consider:

How can I trigger that ‘aha’ moment? Through humor? Building empathy?
What emotions can and should I evoke?
How can my “once upon a time” and setting be relevant for my customer?
How can I hinge my listener’s needs to the “plot”?

3. Engage.

Consider:

How can I make my customer the “main character” of the story?
What can I ask to “embellish the plot” – understand and incorporate the details?
What kinds of reactions, feelings or opinions do I want to elicit?
Who are the other characters, i.e., stakeholders, and what are their needs?
What can I do or say to ensure my listener wants to hear more?
How will I ask for that engagement?

4. Enable.

Consider:

How does my solution address the customer’s needs, solve problems and create value?
How can I validate that my solution addresses my customer’s needs?
How can I be sure that the solution I offer provides a happy ending for my customer?
What do I want my listener to do/feel/think next?
How can I get my customer to commit to action? (or read on)

What’s Your Story?

Try it out! Sketch out a powerful, true story, using the steps above as your guide.

How might you use the story in a sales process? How might you use it with internal “customers” or employees?

 

Re-blogged from Integrity Solutions

About us: — We are at Integrity Solutions India dedicated sales and service teams work with clients to increase sales, improve customer loyalty, and retain talent. For more information call us at 1800-102-1345 (Toll Free) or visit us at http://www.integritysolutionsindia.com

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Is your sales training creating a long-lasting impact? If you’re not using the right approach, the odds are overwhelmingly against you. According to one study, 85 to 90 percent of sales training results in no more than a 120-day dealing in productivity.

Here’s a three-step set up plan for better sales training leads in 2014.Sales Training Solutions

1:– Don’t Just Teach Them What to Do

Sales people are driven mostly by emotion, feeling, not logic. In fact, on average, 85 percent of their drive comes from feelings, attitudes and emotions. Only 15 percent comes from logic, knowledge and discipline.

Teaching sales people product knowledge, sales skills, processes and alternative activities is important, but it’s not what causes them to sell well. If your sales training is primarily targeted on teaching them what to do, it’s missing the lion’s share of what really matters—the real reasons why salespeople succeed or fail in their job.

2:– Go Below the Surface

If the power or ability to sell isn’t a problem of just learning sales skills (and it’s not), then what has to happen to get your people selling more?

We’ve found that the power to sell is largely due to an internal congruence of the subsequent key factors:

  • View of Selling
  • View of Abilities
  •  Values
  • Commitment to Activities
  • Belief in Product

To get results that last, your training needs to drill deeper than the surface skills and appearance at those internal emotional factors that control eighty-five percent of their selling ability.

increase sales in 2014

increase sales in 2014

3:– Make Congruence Your Prime Priority

Our research analysis and experience has shown time and again that until these 5 dimensions of selling are brought into congruence, salespeople will never live up to their full potential, and all the product knowledge and selling techniques in the world won’t make the difference.

Conflicts or low levels of sales result where gaps occur between the sizes, dimensions. The wider the gap, the more the person experiences internal stress, and it becomes tougher to achieve success. Conflicts or stress cause mental and emotional blocks, which inhibit sales success and increase the probability of failure.

What is the good news? As conflicts are reduced, personal confidence, activities, job satisfaction and sales all increase.

Bringing dimensions into congruence is a behavioral issue, not an intellectual learning process. The dimensions only come together when positive actions, attitudes and values are practiced in everyday selling activities and reinforced as part of an ongoing strategy of individual growth and development.

As these dimensions come into congruence, salespeople want to do results-producing activities. They develop an internal zest and confidence, and a deep feeling that what they’re doing is true and sensible.

And they are unconsciously freed-up to sell on higher levels.

Follow these 3 steps and resolve to get more than a temporary fix from your sales training investments in 2014!

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