Product Storytelling: What makes You a Great Salesman?
“Long before he comes to know the product, mostly during his childhood and growing-up experience, the future successful salesman is developing the human qualities essential for selling.” — Harvard Business Review
(Product Storytelling, What matters)
We all live by selling something. Beliefs, ideas, approach, experiences, stories, vision, and dreams. The product arrives in the picture much later.
The writer in me is curious and is always eager to learn from the people around me. From the office boy to the CEO, there is an inspiration emanating from each individual. In my quest to learn about salesmanship skills, I realized that I do not need a heavy document or literature on this aspect of the modern business world. I went back to my favorite coffee place and reflected on my series of interactions with Mr. Ravinder, the Manager at the coffee shop. What makes me go back to this place, every time? Is it their coffee or the Banana Chocolate Fudge? Yes, they both have their culinary elegance but there are other options for me. Sadly, Mr.Ravinder is not present everywhere. Tall and proud, there he stands, with a vibrant cheerfulness and humility.
It all started with: How are you, Ma’am? How you feel today? Please teach me English. I go to Dubai and start restaurant.
Right after work, I would spend 10–15 minutes almost every other day with him, helping him learn to communicate in English. After four months, I have come to recognize that the learning has been mutual. I helped him cross the barrier of language to some extent but he helped me with something greater than that — the importance of simple human gestures and interactions.
We talk about sales today and we end up accumulating numerous resources — videos, books, scripts, speeches, and so on. It could all get simpler if we simply begin with communication. Conversation is easy, communication is not. When it comes to selling a product, the brand message has to be “communicated” in entirety. Just like Mr. Ravinder gave me a reason to go back to his coffee shop, the consumers need a reason to believe in a product. Before the product makes a difference in their lives, the salesperson has to initiate a change, a way of communication that would leave behind a thought.
Smart Salesperson: Emotions or Facts?
Statistics. Do they reveal the entire truth? The battle between quantity and quality is age-old. Just like the GDP of a nation does not reflect its qualitative growth, numbers do not always make an impact while selling a product.
Yes, we need facts. Facts to present the market situation to the consumers. But we need emotions to appeal to the senses of the human on the other side. He will forget the numbers but can he afford to forget the feeling that spurred while listening about your product and the experience that he would get after buying it?
A fine balance seems promising.
Are you listening?
“Most people think “selling” is the same as “talking”. But the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job.”
It is not unusual to get excited about your brand. In that same excitement, you tend to answer all at once.
How good is your product?
Why is it different from others?
How well is the product doing in the market?
Pause. You answered every question that popped up in your mind. Did you ask anything from the person on the other side of the phone or the table? Did you ask about his challenges or the requirements? Did he want to know all of this? Maybe, he wanted to know first how will your product benefit him. Most importantly, maybe he wanted to simply talk about himself and then consider the choices before him.
To understand this, I did not have to flip through The Psychology of Selling or Secrets of Closing the Sale.
All I had to do was listen — listen to what my Boss has been communicating to the in-house team, ever since we started exploring business development.
Are you underestimating user experience?
Talking to co-passengers and getting alternative views is how I pass my travel time. Recently, a co-passenger in a train saw an iPhone in my hand and asked, “Why do you have an iPhone? Why is everyone so crazy about iPhones?”
To this, I answered, “I am a product person. I live by experience. Using a phone has never been so smooth.” Narrating the life of Steve Jobs and success story of Apple was not on my mind while answering the question. Nothing beats personal experiences. How a product was personalized by a man who wasn’t a master in business acumen is a saga which shall inspire people in all times and particularly, salespeople.
Every time, I watch Steve Job introducing the iPhone at Mac World 2007, I believe in the revolution a product can bring by building upon the user experience.
The more the salespeople talk about experience and personalization, the more the product will hit home.
Explain your Product Value, the Cost will be justified
It’s all about the value that we bring on the table. Be it a product or a person.
“We all need salespeople who deliver value that wasn’t there before they arrived.”
Make your prospect believe that you are passionate about helping him. And then help him all the way with your product and personalized services. The price will fade out as the prime concern when the high value will supercede it all.
We do not mind paying for products that make us happy. Do we?
Mr. Ravinder taught me all
Mr. Ravinder and I, we never talked about sales or business jargons. Plain and simple conversations led to lessons for a lifetime.
He spoke and I listened. I found the conversations valuable. And here I am, the writer in me, curious to share it with you.
I look forward to your thoughts on salesmanship in modern times. How about catching up for a coffee at Coffee Ville? Mr. Ravinder would love that.