Storytelling and Why It’s a Necessary Sales Tool

When I ask the Modern Day Sales Rep what they think effective outreach looks like, they often tell me, ‘a concise capabilities deck’. My team has a slightly different approach on this, we tell a story. I know that if I can successfully engage someone in a story, I’ve earned a little bit more of their time to continue the conversation (through sharing a capabilities deck, thought leadership piece, having a one-on-one meeting…).

Why tell a story

For my team, the entire sales pitch is a story; a progression of information that leads them on relatable journey. In our story, the client is the hero with pain points and we are the guide that assists them on their path to glory. Here’s an example of the process we go through when creating a story.

1.   The Problem—What industry-specific problems does the hero (prospect) face?

2.   The Journey—How can your solution help the hero solve their problem?

3.   The Solution—What meaningful results come from your solution?

We are not the first team to come to conclusion that storytelling is a superior way of communicating ideas. CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, notoriously banned Powerpoint from his team in 2018 citing “[Anecdotal stories are] so much better than the typical PowerPoint presentation for so many reasons,”. Google is another A-list company to reject old-school presentation styles. Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, prefers to create image-heavy presentations stating, “since stories are best told with pictures, bullet points and text-heavy slides are increasingly avoided at Google,”.

How to tell a story

The goal of our story is to connect with our prospective client, and to move them to take a specific action. Stories create bonds between us—socially, culturally, spiritually, and in business. The best way to establish this bond is by telling a relatable story that we already feel connected to. These are seven highly familiar story plots that we can use in business:

Overcoming the Monster— Effective when targeting that challenger brand in your target vertical.

Rags to Riches— Good story type for the next hot start-up you’re talking to.

The Quest— Who doesn’t like a good quest? Think of the goal and what they have to overcome to get there.

Voyage and Return— Not a story type we use often

Comedy— Just make sure it’s funny to someone else besides you.

Tragedy— This is not a type we lead with.

Rebirth— Could be the story of a rebrand.

Companies that foster a storytelling culture see relationships deepen between colleagues and clients, while empowering the Modern Sales Rep to develop a more natural and effective communication style.

As you continue to tell your story, take note of people’s reactions—what are they interested in, and when do they tune out? Which parts inspire them to take action? Share your own stories and experiences with clients, in team meetings, and in everyday conversation.

I, for one, am always interested in exchanging a good story. Check out my event calendar, and maybe we’ll have the opportunity to connect.

Rockford Hunt is the VP of Business Development at RAPP (rapp.com). For the last 15 years he has been helping corporations launch that next big idea. If you would like to discuss your next big idea, or for any other development needs you may have, contact 310-993-7625 or rockford.hunt@rapp.com

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Seven_Basic_Plots

Why storytelling is essential to effective communication

Putting Stories to Work – Mastering Business Storytelling

https://www.inc.com/carmine-gallo/jeff-bezos-bans-powerpoint-in-meetings-his-replacement-is-brilliant.html

https://www.inc.com/carmine-gallo/how-googles-ceo-creates-brain-friendly-presentations.html

The Modern Day Sales Rep

The characteristics and skills required to be a sales rep in today’s world have drastically changed from when I was a young and eager associate. The Modern Day Sales Rep has become a hybrid of old tactics, new strategies and technical expertise–only vaguely resembling the salesperson I used to be.

I remember when I started in sales. I was handed a list and told to start dialing. 100 calls a day, 5 days a week. “Dialing for dollars,” they called it, and that is just what we did. Simply, all it took was the ability to talk on the phone and the determination to keep dialing; quantity over quality. Now, fast forward 15 years…

My current day involves:

1. Strategy- Persona Development, Customer Journey Management… Yes, you need a real marketing strategy.

2. Content Writing- LOTS and LOTS of content writing; email outreach, blog articles, proposals. Content makes The Modern Sales Rep relevant and helps start the conversation.

3. Data Management- Most obviously, who to target? Not so obvious, why target them. Using a scoring system is most helpful when deciding not only who, but why. (Upcoming article on my proprietary 12 point scoring system, stay tuned).

4. Email Sequencing- Effectively managing communication through email requires organized outreach and constant testing.

5. Social Media- SM is a necessary tool for spreading a message or idea, article, or other content. I also use social media for prospect data mining (did someone get a new job, what events is someone attending, etc).

6. Networking- Building a network is key. Attending events, responding on LinkedIn, keeping in touch with old clients and friends. It all helps.

7. Public Speaking- Yes, this is the #1 fear of the average person. But, as you may have have already concluded, The Modern Day Sales Rep is far from average.

8. Platform Development- Sales automation and integration of sales software is an essential part of any effective sales platform.

9. Event Marketing- Hosting and attending the right events is a great way to meet new prospects and show them your expertise.

10. Effective Management Skills- Once The Modern Day Sales Rep figures out he/she can not do all of the above alone, it’s important to have the management skills and planning wherewithal to integrate the right talent to support these efforts.

Oh yeah, and I still do phone calls.

Now while I would never forget my past and all that made me what I am today, I still keep one eye on the future.

Todays sales rep must be creative enough to write content, analytical enough to manage data, outspoken enough to speak in front of a crowd AND posses the listening skills to succeed in one-on-one interactions.

Additionally, an understanding of basic programing principles, social media platforms, and integrating sales automation tools won’t hurt you either!

I’ve finally come to the conclusion that The Modern Day Sales Rep is a culmination of all the things that the company is too busy to do themselves in order to attract customers.

Luckily for some of us “Modern Day Sales Reps,” we have evolved into intuitive, diversified, intellectuals with all the skills required to succeed in today’s modern day environment. Unfortunately, the rest of you will be still stuck “dialing for dollars.”

7 Power Stats for Brands on Why the Customer Journey Matters

As the economy continues to boom, customers across many industries will increasingly benefit from companies competing for their business. That’s why, for brands in today’s economic climate, understanding your customers’ needs is critical to earning and retaining their business and loyalty.

Even though you may already understand and agree, I’m here to offer a deeper and more nuanced explanation of why and how we arrived at this need state. What follows are seven power statistics that will further explain why the customer — and the journey your company takes them on to earn and retain their business — is so critical.

Around 89 percent of companies are competing on the basis of “Customer Experience”

A decade ago, “customer experience” was considered important, but not nearly as important as it is today. In 2018, with customers who are more discerning than ever, customer experience has become a critical component in brands’ competitive strategies in the business world. In fact, 89 percent of companies are actively competing on this basis. Don’t expect the 11 percent to last very long.

Customer journey analysis is now more important to CRO than A/B testing

Analyzing the customer journey is one of the most powerful ways that you can improve conversion rates for your business. In fact, recent studies indicate that developing a customer journey analysis can have an even greater impact than A/B testing — which was, for a long time, widely regarded as the most effective method of conversion rate optimization (CRO).

Customer journey mapping increases marketing ROI by 54 percent

The best marketing departments and agencies always make sure to focus on the ROI they are able to produce. One area that has shown particular promise in driving ROI is customer journey mapping. In fact, effective customer journey mapping results in an average increase of marketing ROI of 54 percent.

Customer journey mapping increases up-sell revenue by 56 percent

Once a customer makes a purchase, there is still a lot of work to do. Ensuring that the customer has an excellent experience, and engages with the product and brand well after purchase, is critical to maximizing customer loyalty and the lifetime value of that customer.

By developing, understanding, and acting on a map of the customer journey, reports indicate that the potential for upsell opportunities increases by an average of 56 percent.

Customer experience will be the primary brand differentiator by 2020

Social media and the Internet have made it so that the transfer of information happens nearly instantaneously. That means your customers are talking to each other more than ever before. In order to differentiate yourself, it’s absolutely essential that you understand the type of experience your customers want and provide it to them. Standing apart from your competitors through the implementation of superior customer experiences is expected to be a primary brand differentiator by 2020.

About 85 percent of individuals who have an “excellent” customer experience are “likely” to repurchase from the same company

There should be absolutely no doubt about the importance of the customer experience. In case you need one statistic that highlights just how important it is, though, consider the fact that repurchase opportunities are dramatically more likely to occur (about 85 percent) if a particular customer has an “excellent” experience with your company.

Customer experience innovation now accounts for half of product investments

The stats I shared above are certainly no secret, which is why nearly half of product investment is now centered on the customer experience. If you want to remain competitive in your market down the line, make sure you understand the importance of the customer experience — and how customer journey mapping can help get you there.

If you enjoyed this article and want to see more, make sure to like and share with your network.

Sources: https://marketeer.kapost.com/customer-experience-marketing-stats/

http://www.cmo.com/opinion/articles/2017/2/27/the-eyepopping-roi-of-customer-journey-mapping.html#gs.ihCgxbc

https://www.getfeedback.com/blog/40-stats-churn-customer-satisfaction/

https://www.iperceptions.com/blog/customer-experience-statistics

https://blogs.gartner.com/jake-sorofman/gartner-surveys-confirm-customer-experience-new-battlefiel

Connecting With My Linkedin Connections

I’ve been thinking a great deal about Linkedin connections lately – LinkedIn connections, in general, and my personal LinkedIn connections, in particular. My 5,000+ connections come from various points: stages of my career, my education and simply past events or acquaintances.

And while these contacts have certainly been a great resource and sales tool in my repertoire, I don’t really spend too much time actually connecting with my LinkedIn contacts — an unfortunate waste of potentially valuable relationships.

The Value of the LinkedIn Network

Most only consider LinkedIn connections when looking to secure their next job or progress in their career. And although LinkedIn is definitely useful for those reasons, its professional networks can accomplish and enable so much more. Here are just a few of the ways your LinkedIn network offers a wealth of value:

•         Deepening Your Connections: Connecting on LinkedIn doesn’t necessarily imply or help forge a personal connection. The platform simply provides a means of creating relationships with acquaintances and colleagues. Someone you barely know can become a close personal friend or a partner for your next business endeavor, but you’ve got to extend yourself and deepen the surface connections you make.

•         Broadening Your Network: A LinkedIn network is much more sophisticated than just direct connections on the platform. My first-level connections give me access to their first-level connections, expanding my networking potential and the wealth of resources I can reach out to on LinkedIn. It’s important to remember this tool exists and capitalize on it.

Making Connections Real

Of course, the key to benefiting from the means of connection that LinkedIn offers lies in diving deeper than surface level. This is where I have been focusing my attention – establishing a more authentic personal and professional network on LinkedIn.

My mission to connect started with defining my goal: What did making a connection mean to me? A lunch? A call? A few emails back and forth? Meeting up at an event? I defined an actual connection as something between a phone call and lunch. The next step is answering the following problem question: For busy connections with limited time to spare, what irrefutable value can I offer, that will make them want to connect?

Based on my experience, I’ve come up with the following principles to guide my pursuit of turning LinkedIn connections into more authentic, real-life connections:

Ask Politely

How I frame my initial outreach will set the stage for all future interactions. Keeping this in mind, I send a polite email informing my contact that I’d like to build beyond the LinkedIn connection stage. I ask them if they’re on the same page and when they have time to chat, being respectful of their time and their busy schedules.

Talk About Connecting

Using words like “connect” or event “talk” and “chat” has been shown to increase follow-up rates. By using these terms, I define my purpose and have a better chance of building on my connections.

Do My Homework

I take the time to do just a little bit of homework on my connection before any conversations begin Nothing too in-depth, but enough that I will be prepared to ask them relevant questions about their lives and work that go beyond the usual formalities.

Focus on Shared Experiences

That initial research gives me the opportunity to discover experiences, connections and communities that we have in common. These similarities not only provide discussion topics, but also give me a better chance of getting a response. Mentioning a LinkedIn group in common, for example, ensures a 21% greater likelihood of a reply.

My hope is that this post will encourage my LinkedIn contacts, as well as others who read it, to take similar steps. I would love to see some of these shared connections reach out and begin to form deeper relationships themselves.

There’s more to each LinkedIn contact than a name, job title and potential lead for new opportunities. I hope that my efforts to engage better, and more deeply, with my connections will encourage others to do the same.

How Loyalty Programs Increase ROI

When I hear the term “loyalty program,” I immediately think of the many loyalty cards in my wallet and how I have to fumble around to find one when the cashier asks,

“Do you have a so-and-so reward’s card?”

Boomers (40%) don’t find loyalty programs as essential as Millennials (62%) and GenXers (64%) (Chase)

I will admit it, I consistently use my grocery store rewards (saves me 20 cents a gallon on gas), hotel points, movie rewards card ($5 Sundays!) and there is a diner near my office where I have about 6 different cards with 3 or 4 stamps on them. Free lunch is almost mine!

56% of Millennials , and 50% of Gen Xers, wanted to use apps as the preferred medium for restaurant loyalty programs. (Oracle Hospitality)

The one that seems the most genius to me is the Sephora loyalty program. I don’t even want to admit how much it cost me so my wife can maintain her VIP status. Then next year guess what, it starts all over!

I have a really hard time with airline rewards, though. It seems like it takes forever to gain any kind of major reward, like a free flight or an upgrade to first class. Either that or I really just never understand them.

• 72% of those ages 46-65 will redeem reward points earned from business travel for leisure compared to 86% of millennials. 48% of Millennials consider loyalty programs to be important when booking flights and 51% when booking hotels (Expedia)

While these kinds of loyalty programs are a dime a dozen and are designed to get customers back into stores or back up in the clouds, the areas where I find the most return on investment (ROI) is with loyalty programs offered by banks and credit card institutions.

When a customer is part of a loyalty program for a credit card, there is an investment of time, energy and even emotion in that credit card company. And for that reason, customers stick around and keep using your credit card.

Credit Card Loyalty Programs

For people who love to travel like I do, some credit cards offer amazing loyalty incentives. Basically, the more you use their card, the more you can travel, especially with flexible rewards. One of these cards is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. This card racks up traveling points for every $1 you spend — even while you’re traveling! This program also comes with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after spending four grand in the first three months after opening an account. That comes out to $625 toward travel. Wow. I’m feeling pretty loyal.

Loyalty Programs for Banking Institutions

Besides offering free checking, banking institutions need to offer loyalty incentives to remain competitive in their industry.

For example, Bank of America’s rewards program actually offers three levels of rewards, which makes it fun. These tiers are based on combined balances of qualifying accounts. As your balance(s) grow, so do your rewards. Now that is clever incentive to continuously do business with Bank of America.

Why use Loyalty Programs?

In order for loyalty programs to succeed they need to be tightly integrated with the brand story and customers shopping experience, offering a seamless experience across the buying experience. As shoppers we use the Internet, mobile channels and physical stores, businesses need to recognize that.

Loyalty programs offer an incentive for the customer to continue to purchase a product, keep using a credit card or continuously deposit money into accounts with the same bank.

They generally cost less to implement then a larger marketing campaign and since they reward real customers, the ROI is easier to recognize.

To learn more about implementing a loyalty or rewards program for your company and see an amazing ROI, contact one of our offices.

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