Questions and probes are one way to get prospects in touch with their (sometimes latent) business desires. But a subtler, and often very effective way to uncover prospects’ concerns and make your point is by telling stories.
Here’s a sales conversation an agent recently told us about:
Agent: It’s interesting, a lot of times companies like yours get quotes at renewal times to make sure they’re getting the best rates. But sometimes they discover other issues to address as well.
I was talking with the owner of a small restaurant group. He told me that, while they were doing their annual “price check” a while back, he had mentioned to one of the quoting agents that he’d spent over $20k that year replacing damaged computers when the office was flooded after a window shattered during a storm.
When the quoting agent told him about Electronic Data Processing coverage, which would have compensated him for the expensive data retrieval in addition to his lost hardware and software, he was miffed to realize that that coverage was absent from his policy. Needless to say, the restaurant owner switched to a more attentive agent. Sometimes you don’t know what coverage you’re missing until it’s too late.
Prospect: I wouldn’t like to discover anything like that. So please, let’s make sure that you review our coverage thoroughly. I’d like to see a quote on what you think we need – not only what we have now.
What if, instead of engaging the prospect with this little anecdote, the agent had simply asserted, “We can look to see if there are any gaps in your coverage”? It’s quite likely the prospect might have responded with a wish to keep things simple, focus on cost alone, and not get into coverage complications.
People love to hear stories. They draw people in. We see ourselves in the tales about others.
Stories can paint a picture in the other person’s mind. (Did you visualize the shattered window and the flooded office of the restaurant owner?) Stories can show vividly how to bring about positive outcomes without coming across as sales-y: “This is how we were able to really help another company similar to yours.”
Every agent has stories of how they discovered a problem the customer didn’t know anything about. Or of how another agent set up coverage using the wrong form. Or how they were able to creatively restructure a benefit plan to bring down costs or ease the workload of the HR department.
Keep your stories handy and use them generously. Sales meetings will be more fun and your message more compelling.
Want to learn more about how storytelling can benefit your bottom line? Submit a (family-friendly) caption in the comments for the photo above and enter our contest to win a copy of Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber’s great book on telling stories, Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story.