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HOW TO SELL ANYTHING

Tell the Customer's Story, Not Your Story

Why are you wasting everyone's time telling your company's story?

Every day, I receive around a dozen press releases from companies announcing new products.  Here's a real-life example (name changed):

"I'd like to introduce you to Acme, a new cloud-based call center solution.  Acme asked the question, 'Why can't your CRM software easily talk to your call center?' and when they couldn't find a solution to do that-they built their own."

Okay, they're telling a story.  I give them credit for that.  It's better than blitzing me with a list of product features.

However, while they've told a story, it's a story about them.  And frankly, nobody gives a flying squirrel's sphincter about your company's decision-making process, which is the corporate equivalent of "how I spent my summer vacation."

This "look at us! we're so smart!" style of marketing has become woefully common in the post-Facebook era. People--particularly young people, I note--seem convinced that business communication consists of telling people about YOU.

But in business, it's never about you.  It's always about the customer.

Ironically, call centers are full of vivid customer stories waiting to be told:

  • Call center people stressed out of their minds because they're under pressure to handle calls more quickly but they can't get the data they need.
  • Customers going nuts trying to figure what else they need to buy while talking to a call center person whose only answer is: "I dunno..."
  • Executives tearing their hair out at the cost of customer support and the apparent inability of the call center to upsell anything.
  • Investors selling stock short because the companythey've invested in can't make their numbers predictably.

Given that there's so much going on in this situation, why not tell a story that has real human drama? Like so:

Imagine you're calling a vendor for support and the call center guy has NO CLUE what you've already bought.  Suddenly you're spending your valuable time providing information that your vendor should already know.  So here's my question: how long before you start looking for a new vendor who has their sh*t together?

That took me two minutes to write that.  I'm sure somebody really talented could up with something better, but that's not the point.  The point is:

Tell the customer's story not your story.

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Last updated: Jul 17, 2013

GEOFFREY JAMES

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.




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