What was your favorite children’s book growing up?
Vividly picture it. You’re sitting on Mom or Dad’s lap, hands wrapped around the hardcover frame of your book. You’ve read this book a million times, so you already know what’s going to happen, but you’re very okay with that.
“What’s wrong with this picture?” Mom says. You smile up at Mom, eagerly point to the tiger sitting in the baby carriage, and turn to the next page of Wacky Wednesday.
Stories bridge reality and imagination. They allow us to relate our current circumstances to new, exciting, and often preferred worlds. Stories ask us to question, “What if…?”
However, the less than glamorous truth is that as we mature, we dedicate a larger portion of our daily language to pragmatic conversation. Take a guess: over the course of an average day, how many stories do you tell?
Let me pose you a challenge.
In your sales conversations, make a goal to tell at least three stories every day. And tell your stories like you’re reading a children’s book.
Here’s what I mean. First of all, every children’s book has a single, simple guiding premise. Maybe there’s a mischievous little monkey whose adventurous personality gets him into frequent hijinks, or maybe there’s a mustached, potato-shaped man whose primary concern is protecting the forest. Regardless of the book’s plot, it has a single, simple, guiding premise. Your sales message should be just as easy to discern.
Now, thinking back to your favorite children’s book, who was the main character? Was it a child? Nearly every children’s book has a child or a childlike animal as the main character. This brings us to our second point: we love stories about ourselves.
In sales, with every story you tell, make the main character someone just like your prospect. Your prospect will it find hard to be less than fully engaged with your message.
Thirdly, consider how fantastically interactive children’s books are. Children’s books compel us to point, cheer, chant, offer our opinions, and answer questions. Isn’t this exactly what you want out of your sales conversations? Instead of just telling your prospect a story, encourage your prospect to tell the story with you.
Take a look this sales conversation, and notice how it incorporates these three elements of children’s book.
Prospect: So what is it exactly that your company does?
Salesperson: Thanks for asking, Prospect. We help tech companies accelerate their sales cycles. Let me give you an example how we do this. I noticed that your company primarily does federal sales, right?
Prospect: Yes, that’s correct.
Salesperson: Great, and you’re in charge of managing the sales pipeline for your team?
Prospect: Mostly, yes.
Salesperson: Okay, perfect. So John Smith at ABC Company led a sales team that also focused on federal sales. Like most companies in federal sales, his sales cycles tended to be long, and his deal sizes tended to be large. Would you say this is true for you too?
Prospect: Oh, definitely.
Salesperson: Wonderful, so this next bit might resonate with you then. John noticed that when a handful of certain red flags surfaced throughout the sales process, his team would almost never win the contract. But the problem was that the salesperson, who had spent a good chunk of time on the flagged deal, wouldn’t want to let it go. As a result, his salespeople often wasted their time time on deals they ultimately wouldn’t win. Can you think of any red flags like this that come up for you in your sales process?
Prospect: For sure. We know that X, Y, and Z are pretty much showstoppers for us.
Salesperson: Ah, I understand. And sometimes, your reps continue to work these deals anyways?
Prospect: All the time.
Salesperson. Yes, that’s exactly what John noticed. To fix the issue, John contracted with us to help define these red flags and build them into his sales process, so his sales reps and sales managers would be instantly notified whenever a red flag surfaced. And by implementing this process, allowing John to reduce the amount of time his team spent on bad deals, what would you guess happened to his sales cycle?
Prospect: I imagine that it got substantially shorter.
Salesperson: Bingo. Prospect, you’re exactly right.
By turning your sales pitch into a children’s book, you relate to your prospect, engage your prospect, and take control of the conversation with targeted questions. To do this, in summary, make your message simple, make your main character relatable, and make your story interactive.
Give the children’s book method a shot, and let me know how it goes. Together we’ll make ABC Company and the Super Short Sales Cycle a bestseller (pun completely intended).
Yours on the grind,