Have you ever wondered why some salespeople seem to naturally connect with buyers, while others constantly get the cold shoulder?
Maybe it’s Maybelline. Or maybe it’s a little deeper than that. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that it has something to do with neuroscience.
The human brain is a many-splendored thing. It’s a powerful machine when it’s fully engaged, but it also has built-in defenses to guard against sleazy salespeople, crooked politicians and cotton candy vendors run amok.
The key to a woman’s heart may be diamonds or chocolates, but the key to your buyer’s brain looks more like a doughnut.
Seriously. Scientists say that the limbic system, which is responsible for emotions, surrounds our reptilian brain, which is designed for survival, in a decidedly doughnut-like fashion. I’ll let you decide whether it’s a cream puff or a cruller.
In any case, if you aren’t hitting your sales quota, it’s probably because you don’t spend enough time connecting with your buyer’s doughnut brain, where all of the emotional decisions take place.
This is the electrifying discovery revealed by sales legends Mike Bosworth and Ben Zoldan in their book, “What Great Salespeople Do.” This book teaches you how to harness the power of stories to create emotional connections and reduce sales resistance. It’s well worth your time, if you’re willing to practice its proven principles.
Mastering their storytelling approach to selling will definitely take practice. But the potential payoff is huge. Effective storytelling, as the authors assert, is the key to connecting with buyers and catapulting yourself into the top 13% of salespeople who close 87% of the deals.
You do want to close 87% of the deals, don’t you? See, that’s your doughnut brain talking. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that. ‘Cuz you’re movin’ on up …
How to Get Your Buyers to Open Up
Conventional wisdom has always claimed that salespeople must maintain an air of perfection at all times when talking to customers. We wouldn’t want a prospect to get a whiff of our dirty laundry, now would we?
Well actually, we would. The authors slap us upside the head with a universal truth that Hollywood screenwriters have applied successfully for decades: people don’t connect emotionally with perfect people because perfect people don’t exist. What people connect with is somebody who has fought the same battles they’ve fought.
Key takeaway: If you want your customers to trust you enough to open up about their own challenges, you must first show that you are vulnerable yourself. Don’t be afraid to tell stories that reveal your struggles and mistakes, as long as these stories prove a point that will influence your buyers to change.
By exposing your vulnerability first, you are inviting your buyers to share their own stories. When they do this, you can deepen your connection with them by listening empathically.
Empathic listening is more than just hearing words, the authors point out. It involves the eyes, heart and undivided attention. When truly listening to somebody, we make that person feel like royalty.
You do want your buyers to feel like royalty, don’t you? Good ‘cuz otherwise I’m wasting my breath here, people.
How to Structure Your Sales Stories
Remember those Lay’s Potato Chips commercials: “Bet you can’t eat just one”? Or were those Oreos? Or Tostitos? Or Doritos? Or Burritos? Or Klondike bars? Or Cocoa Puffs?
Either way, the same principle applies to your sales stories. You really can’t tell just one. Hate to burst your bubble, but you’re going to need a bundle.
Here are the three essential stories outlined in “What Great Salespeople Do”:
1. Who I Am
The point of this story is to reveal why you do what you do.
2. Who I Represent
This story takes your buyer on your company’s journey.
3. Who I’ve Helped
Why did somebody just like your prospect decide to change and buy from you?
The authors offer up a proven framework for building effective sales stories. It looks a little something like this:
1. The Point: Each of your stories should communicate a specific point that will help your buyer to believe what you believe.
2. Setting: This is where the story begins. The setting includes the location, the people, the context and a catalyst that gets the action going.
3. Complications: Challenges and obstacles are unavoidable in life, and they are essential elements of any compelling sales story. What struggles did you face in the pursuit of your goals?
4. Turning Point: This is the story’s climax. It represents the main character’s decision to change in order to overcome the complications.
5. Resolution: This is where your story ends and you make your point. You have slain the dragon and are smarter and stronger as a result of fighting the battle.
This is a classic story structure that writers, actors and politicians have employed for centuries to create emotional connections with their audiences. And now you can use it in your sales calls. Happy days are here again.
Other Key Psychological Principles
This book also highlights some important psychological principles that smart communicators leverage to influence their buyers’ doughnut brains.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Mirror neurons: Monkey see, monkey do. When other people see you smiling, it sends a signal to their brains that makes them want to smile, too. We mirror other people’s emotions. Use your facial expressions and body language to communicate the emotions you want your buyers to feel. They really can’t resist.
Premature elaboration: One of the best ways to lose a deal is to bombard your buyer with all of your brilliant solutions before you’ve established an emotional connection. If you hammer home too many facts and figures at the beginning of the sales call, your buyer’s brain will quickly tune you out. Customers want to do business with somebody who understands them and their unique challenges.
Nonverbal communication: Only 7 percent of human communication is made up of words. The other 93 percent consists of tone of voice and nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions, gestures and body posture. Always remember that words convey information, while nonverbal communication conveys emotion.
I highly recommend “What Great Salespeople Do.” I believe it can help you close more deals and have more fun in the process. I strongly believe in the power of story to influence others to change. I hope you do, too.
Watch the XANT story:
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