The house lights dim, the curtain rises, the stage overflows with light as the cast appears: the story has begun. We settle in to our seats, listening and watching closely, getting to know the characters. Getting immersed in the world of the play. Meeting the characters one by one, learning their wants and their needs. The playwright is smart and they know their audience. They know us. They introduce characters we can all relate to, but we are still waiting, waiting, waiting to find out what is this play about. The audience thinks, why should I care? And there it is: the inciting incident that kicks off the problem of the play, the driving action. The moment when the ghost of Hamlet’s father appears on the battlements to tell Hamlet who poisoned him. Hamlet vows revenge and we are off!
This is the key to a successful pitch; telling your prospect a story. What stories do we like the most? Stories about ourselves. Times and circumstances might change, but like Hamlet, stories that tell us about ourselves continue to be told over and over. In outsourced sales, the kinds of products we sell are as varied as us, the people selling them. Therefore, it is essential that we, the playwrights and directors of our sales, have a solid understanding of what it is that we are doing, and what makes our pitches compelling.
Sell Your Story
A salesperson can rattle off the features and benefits of a product all day long, but it won’t be nearly as effective as storytelling. Imagine if an actor stood on stage and just started describing their character to us. This is something we don’t want to see that. We want to see their character in action. We want to see how their character handles situations and compare them to how we might handle them. In order to effectively sell your product you have to captivate your prospect during your pitch, just like actors captivate an audience in a theatre.
How do you tell your prospect a story they can relate to, and bring them into the world of your product? Make the pitch about them with the product, not just the product by itself. In other words, don’t pitch your product; pitch what your prospect’s experience with the product will be. What makes a character so compelling are the things that make them individual: their desires, their drives. Seeing your customers through this lens means asking the right questions and actively listening to their stories.
Understand What Motivates Your Customers
We are now in the heart of the play. Plans hatch, twists and turns develop, and we are attentive. We are hanging on every word. This is Hamlet. Even if we are not the prince of Denmark, and have never had the experience of our father being murdered by our uncle, as an audience, we relate to him. Why? Because we relate to his motives, his struggles.
Shakespeare tapped into a story we can all relate to even if it isn’t how we would act ourselves. We have now been presented with a problem, and an interesting play takes us on a journey where we want to discover the solution. The same goes for a pitch, except as inside salespeople, we have far fewer resources to draw on as we tell our stories.. Theatre has the advantage of lights, costumes, props, and a whole cast. How can we as salespeople be just as captivating with only our voices? How can we create a pitch that they would be willing to pay for? A salesperson does it the same way a good playwright or actor does it.
People don’t go to the theatre for the lights, or the sounds and the costumes. People go for the story. How do we as salespeople tell a story compelling enough to keep a prospect engaged over the phone? We find the prospects “pain points” and tailor the call to them. For example, imagine that my company has just released a new product. My new product is a is a foolproof lie detector. Who do I call first? Hamlet, my prospect of course. I know he is trying to prove the validity of his father’s ghost’s claims –that he was poisoned by Claudius. My new lie detector is going to save Hamlet hours of time that he is currently putting into spying. Just plug the lie detector in and ask his uncle if he poisoned his father. Problem solved!
Whether it be Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, or Lin-Manuel Miranda, playwrights have been captivating audiences for hundreds, if not thousands of years. People are inherently drawn by the stories that we tell – make your customers understand how your product drives them.