Stories that sell
Helping a sales team discover convincing stories to tell decision makers
Optimum Lightpath had a big competition problem. A division of the publicly traded company Cablevision (one of America’s largest cable TV providers), it offers high-speed internet, digital cable and other telecom services. It may be a household name in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut tristate area, yet the company faced a serious risk of losing market share in a fiercely competitive market, to energetic telecom and entertainment brands Verizon and Time Warner.
Optimum asked me to train the sales team to present Optimum Lightpath’s advantages to large New York-area corporate decision-makers in hospitals and at companies that own large buildings. How could they present something new, clear, exciting about Optimum’s fiber-optic business network and internet solutions? How could they make their presentations relevant to these audiences, best describe the benefits? Tell the stories of why customers use Optimum, and find success with it? How could they do this while keeping to-the-point, organized, and focused on advantages?
Most of all, how could the sales people become less robotic? Less slick and off-putting, with a hard-sell sort of sales-y feel? It was a challenge to get the sales team out of “sales mode,” because they sounded too rote, disconnected, spewing dull facts and figures. They needed to specify the advantages for each particular client. To make the potential buyer feel that the sales person cared about them having better connectivity—with all its many real benefits.
I needed to help them learn to speak from their heart, and to understand the needs of these potential clients. Connecting with a hospital, for example, is different than with the management company for a large office tower.
I trained about 12 groups, about 10 people per group, meeting in every case for one day, or a day and a half.
Each person needed to get their thoughts organized into efficient, clear, five-minute presentations. To do that, I first needed to elicit from each team member the kind of stories that make a difference.
In one success story, it was very important for a group of satellite radiology centers to be able to connect seamlessly and efficiently to share data, essential information and patient records. Imagine if there was not reliable connectivity between offices –it would affect the patients’ care. The sales people needed to tell stories like this to support Optimum’s case.
I helped each person identify, and make their own– and finally enjoy connecting during presentations– with stories. I helped them warm up their presentation. They learned that warmth sells better than cold facts and statistics. They came out of the workshops presenting as real, concerned, warm people.
They would be giving, effectively, a sales presentation. But Optimum didn’t want their folks to feel like slick sales people. They wanted me to train their team to be something better than that. Plus they wanted to emphasize, most importantly, their company’s success stories.
So I wouldn’t be doing sales training. I was preparing the team just for the one crucial moment: standing in front of the client with five minutes to make their case. They need to catch the potential client’s attention, build a relationship, build credibility, present efficiently, show their service’s benefits — and to tell a few stories. I needed to make each team member’s presentation clear, efficient, and positive, allowing them each to connect.
We talked a lot about how to “make that connection”…through sharing a success story, and warming up, humanizing the presentation. And all the while, to emphasize what differentiates Optimum Lightpath, so that at the end they could answer the question: “Why Optimum Lightpath?” – succinctly and convincingly.
It was all about pulling out of the sales people the stories that sell!
Specific Tools used:
- Customized design
- Small group workshops
- Videotaping and feedback
- Follow-up training
- The power of story-telling
- Practice presentations delivered to managers (to ensure that speakers are applying what they learned)
Sometimes sales people develop bad habits and could use constructive criticism to correct them, and that is exactly what I received yesterday. Thank you for bringing in an outstanding trainer – she is very competent and did a wonderful job conveying her points. It was the best training session I have had in years.
Sales – State and Local Government Sales
I am amazed at the ease with which Patricia can fulfill a variety of tasks. Her methods are easy to follow and done in a confidence building fashion. I have seen Patricia coax even the most hesitant attendee to become involved. Patricia’s patience and style of training would be a tremendous asset to any organization looking to improve on public speaking, presentation skills or general confidence building.
Director of Sales