In the first part of this series of story strategies for sales presentations, we walked through the first formula for a good story well told: Situation, Solution, Success. This second formula will help you learn how to create a story your potential buyers can relate to.
Whenever you are telling a story to a prospect, make sure it is populated with flesh and blood characters, just like the people you are talking to. Craft your story so that your listeners identify with both the people and the situation you present.
Formula 2 – Character, Dialogue, Dramatic Lesson Learned
Start by giving your characters a back-story, as simple as their title and years of experience. For example, if you spoke of “a human resource director with 23 years experience,” the subtext—the content underneath the spoken dialogue—is that someone with 23 years of experience knows how to make wise decisions. Your prospects often reach their conclusions based on the information they heard from “one of your characters who is like them.”
It’s important in your example to have the actual words of the client state the problem and then state the success. Their words are often edited and sometimes dramatized; however, the emotional context is accurate. An example:
When meeting planners are considering hiring me to keynote a conference, they often ask something like this… “Patricia, how do we know you are our best choice for our keynote speaker?” I reply, “I don’t know. However, if you were to ask Dan Maddux, the executive director of the 24,000-member American Payroll Association, he will tell you, ‘At APA we’ve been hiring professional speakers for over 30 years. Without a doubt, Patricia Fripp is the most hassle free, versatile, and dynamic professional speaker we’ve ever hired. Every year since 1996, she’s been at our convention. On six occasions she has keynoted, and every year she delivers 3-6 breakout sessions. She helps write the speeches for six of our leaders and coaches them all on their delivery. Not only is Patricia the hardest-working speaker at every convention, she is the best speaker investment you could make.'”
Dramatic Lesson Learned
Can you see what I did there? No way could I say, “I am the best speaker investment you could make.” But I do… using Dan’s words. That’s the prospect’s takeaway—I’ve made it obvious to the listener why I’m telling the story.
One of the best ways to get material for this formula is to review your past few years’ references—and to look at your client examples and references with fresh eyes. Your goal is to incorporate your new storytelling skills into your satisfied clients’ examples and case histories.
In the third part of this series, we’ll conclude this series by taking a page from Hollywood: “Story Strategy to Improve Your Sales Presentations – Part 3”
Your prospects will not remember everything you say; they will, however, remember what they see in their minds and feel in their hearts while they listen to you share a story.
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“In my 12 years in sales and marketing, you are the most dynamic, charismatic, and knowledgeable sales presentation trainer and executive speech coach that I know. After your presentation skills training, both my sales and technical support team are closing more sales!”
– Bill Lewis, Director of Sales and Marketing, North America, Unitech America, Inc.
Executive Speech Coach and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp works with individuals and companies who realize that powerful, persuasive presentation skills give them a competitive edge.