Everyone loves a good story – from fables and folktales to case studies and compelling copy in marketing campaigns. A well-crafted story clearly illustrates how your solution adds value to an organization, and elicits a positive emotional response from the reader. If you can help readers visualize the benefits of your product or service, you are many steps closer to closing the sale.
Good storytelling is both an art and a science that helps you rise above the noise and distinguish your offerings from the competition. Weaving value into your sales and marketing messages elevates your story from the requisite facts, figures, costs and benefits to a confident depiction of how your solution helps people and organizations succeed. It enlivens the conversation and engages prospects in the outcome rather than focusing on the process to get there.
Making the Shift
Reframing your message is essential to effective value selling and storytelling. Instead of talking about what your solution does, focus instead on what prospects can achieve by adopting it. Write from the prospect’s perspective, and emphasize the results each stakeholder hopes to realize.
Here are some common but ineffective writing approaches that detract from your story and do little to convey your value proposition. By weeding them out, you can shift your focus from:
Data to Insights
Marketers sometimes inundate prospects with intimidating amounts of data. Often this data is neither understood nor directly applicable to the product. Be selective and share only relevant statistics, financial analysis, industry metrics and other insightful data points. When woven into your story, these can effectively engage prospects and strengthen confidence in your solution.
Jargon to Clarity
Buzzwords, acronyms and convoluted sentences do nothing to emphasize the value of your products. Nor do they positively reinforce your knowledge and experience. Why risk alienating prospects with unintelligible copy they can’t relate to? Write using simple, conversational language, and make unambiguous statements that allow prospects to make clear, informed decisions.
Telling to Showing
Avoid telling prospects about the features in your latest product release and why it’s the best on the market. Talk instead about your customers’ experience with your solution. Show how real people are solving real business problems and making goal-oriented changes. Although your product is part of the solution, your emphasis should be on the prospect, not you.
Creating Value-Driven Content
Every story has an arc that begins with a circumstance and ends with some degree of resolution. In business terms, your story begins with understanding the prospect’s current issues and exploring potential solutions, and concludes with a summation of the results most important to the reader.
Include the following discussions when guiding prospects to decide that your product has indisputable value to their organization:
1. Articulate the scope and magnitude of the problem.
Demonstrate your understanding of the problem by describing its underlying causes and how it impacts day-to-day activities and the ability to achieve long term goals. Where possible, quantify the cost of the problem in terms of human and capital resources, and ask the reader to consider how those costs will likely increase if no action is taken.
2. Examine how much of the problem can be solved.
While we would all love to wave a magic wand and solve our problems, we must rely on complementary and strategically selected solutions instead. Be clear about how far yours goes in solving the problem. Identify where it provides direct and indirect financial value by saving money, increasing efficiency and boosting sales. And be a trusted partner that shares ideas for solving outstanding issues.
3. Identify and appeal to all stakeholders.
Business problems may be centralized in one area, but their effects are found throughout the organization. The value of your solution, therefore, should be conveyed in terms that are meaningful to direct users as well as to finance and executive teams. When each stakeholder understands your value proposition, purchase decisions become clearer and more likely to receive budget approval.
4. Clarify the investment and projected payback.
It is essential to provide CFOs and buying committees with a comprehensive financial analysis of your solution. In addition to the initial purchase investment, include value-based measurements that show how your project offers higher financial returns than others under consideration. Metrics such as ROI, TCO, NPV and IRR can be helpful in weaving value selling into your storytelling.
The best way to support value-based storytelling is by incorporating ROI and value selling tools into your sales process. These calculators are personalized to your products and industry, so they speak directly to the needs and interests of all stakeholders. Start improving sales results with persuasive selling models that communicate the true value of your solution. It’s a great strategy for ensuring a happy ending and more successful sales.