Take Advantage of the “Telephone Effect”
A lot has been recently written about the power of stories in selling. The power of stories to communicate context and value is undeniable, if they are used correctly.
The effective use of stories requires you to remember that the exclusive audience for your story is not the person to whom you initially tell the story. Even if that person is the final decision maker. You have to make your stories memorable and repeatable. Because they need to be retold throughout the prospect’s company to take advantage of the “telephone effect.”
What’s the “telephone effect?” When you were a kid, do you remember playing the game called “telephone?”
The rules were pretty simple. You and your friends sat on the floor in a big circle. One person started the game by whispering a short piece of gossip or fiction, usually something slanderous about one of the kids in the circle, into the ear of the kid sitting to their left. That kid in turn whispered what they had heard into the ear of the kid sitting to their left. And on and around the story traveled from ear to ear until the last kid to have heard the “telephone message” stood up and repeated what they thought they heard. What started out as “Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water” invariably turned into “Jill hijacked a pill truck with Gayle, her daughter.”
This same dynamic is in play with the stories and the presentations you tell your prospects. You need to harness the power of the “telephone” dynamic to your sales advantage. Here’s how to do it and it all starts with the stories you tell. (If you haven’t read my article on sales stories, What’s Your Story, click here to do that first.)
Your stories have to be memorable so your prospect wants to repeat them internally. Your internal sales advocates have to be able to communicate the value of your product, service and company to multiple audiences throughout their organization. What you hope is that those people will in turn re-tell the story to other internal audiences. When that happens your value, features, benefits and reputation inevitably are amplified and solidified through the retelling. This is the “telephone effect” kicking in and working to your advantage. The more memorable your story, the more often it will be re-told.
In order for the prospect to effectively re-tell them, your stories have be easy to remember. The key to making your stories repeatable is to make certain they follow a common structure that quickly answers four simple questions in logical order:
- Why did the customer call your company to help solve their problem?
- What problem(s) were they trying to solve?
- Why did they select your company and product/service?
- What value did the customer receive from your product/service?
Answer these four questions and your stories will be concise and flow in a logical fashion that the prospect can remember. Practice telling your stories to your colleagues. You want to be certain that they are absolutely clear about the value you provide.
Stories that are memorable and repeatable will accelerate your ability to Sell with Maximum Impact in the Least Time and compress buying cycles.
Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops and consults with sales teams of all sizes to teach them how to use responsiveness, speed and intelligent processes to increase sales. Enjoy what you just read? Sign up for our regular digest of valuable Zero-Time Selling sales tips and strategies, “Selling with Maximum Impact.”
© Andy Paul 2013