What does a motivational speaker know about sales?
A successful speaking career is dependent upon our ability to sell what we do. Not only do we have to sell ourselves to the clients who book us, we also have to sell our information to a sometimes unwilling audience. Standing on that stage, I am selling to a room of 500 different buyers. Sometimes I am selling them products or coaching services that I offer, but in every case, I am selling them the truth I have to share. I am trying to get them to buy in. I am the sales person on that stage, hired to deliver information and motivate them to USE it. In order to be effective at this sales job, I must become real, likeable, trustworthy, and believable. I must also do something memorable, not just so I will make the client happy, or get a standing ovation, but so that they will remember me four years later when they want to hire another speaker. Which is pretty much what every sales person on the planet is trying to do. We’re all just selling different things to different people.
I am effective at my job because I don’t stand up there and give a sales pitch or follow a sales formula. I follow a story formula for selling – because the last thing my audience wants is to be sold to. But they do want to buy. So I stopped pushing and started pulling.
The biggest tool I have in my sales kit is the power of story. Story does what data can’t. Data (our features, our services, our content, what we have) is not what sells – it’s how we wrap it – it’s the emotion we bring to it. It’s in our ability to take that data and apply it to life – their life. After all, isn’t that where the feature becomes the benefit? The benefit is when they try that product on in their own life, and it fits. Story is our greatest weapon as motivational speakers, and yet so many still don’t know how to use it, where to use it, and why. Today, I just want to talk about storytelling as it relates to sales.
The Story Selling Formula
It’s really basic. It comes down to having three types of stories in your portfolio. Let’s pretend I’m selling makeup, just for the sake of an example. We’ll call it XYZ Cosmetics.
About Me Stories
Something about you that makes you a real person to us – likeable, trustworthy, believable. Share experiences that you have that I might possibly have too. Tell me about your kids, your pets, your service in the military, your favorite TV show, your quirks. (Note: We don’t care about everything you achieved or did. We don’t care that you just got a new sports car. Try to be the guy next door, not the annoying guy at the party who shows you his vacation photos.)
Example: Hi, I’m Kelly and I’m addicted to hair pieces, spanx, and cheese in a can. I can’t get enough of Law and Order episodes. And I’m pretty sure I forgot to give my kid lunch yesterday. I tend to get very distracted, but there’s one thing I don’t play around with – makeup. I am convinced that our appearance makes a statement about our brand, and my brand is what allows me to charge higher fees. So makeup isn’t a nice luxury for me, it’s an investment in my business.
Tell me about why this product matters to you personally? Why did you choose to spend your time and energy selling this? How did this product help you or the people you know?
Example: I believe in XYZ because they believe that you don’t have to harm animals to make good products. I’ve been a fan of theirs for years – ever since I first started wearing their foundation and my husband told me I looked ten years younger.
Tell me about people like me who you were able to help. Tell me about others who wore your product. Tell me those stories.
Example: In the beginning I didn’t really know how to apply the makeup. One of my clients came to me so frustrated because she had spent so much money on all these cosmetics that didn’t turn out the way she’d hoped. It wasn’t that she bought the wrong makeup, it was that she didn’t know how to apply it. After attending only two of my makeover sessions, she was a pro. She’s convinced it helped her get that promotion and gave her more confidence and courage to take risks. It’s not really about beauty, it’s about owning your beauty. And that’s what we help you do at XYZ. I’m your personal consultant to help you step into full ownership of yourself.
These are just off-the-top-of-my-head examples of using story to sell instead of facts and data. There are so many ways to achieve this. The important thing is to be aware that you are telling three stories – or three languages – or three perspectives – yours personally, the brand’s, and the customer’s.
Many of us know that better stories help us sell, we just don’t know how to do it. For now, just focus on an example of the data (feature) as it applies to life.
If you need more help, contact me about story coaching (www.kellyswanson.net) and we’ll talk about what you’re selling, who your buyer is, and how to write stories that fit.