If you haven’t already, please read part 1 of this topic for steps 1-4 to create your compelling story. Here’s the link.
Step 5: Why should I believe you?
We’re going to start the second part of this process with a simple question: Why should I believe you?
Think about it and consider all the work you did in steps 1-4.
Until and unless I believe you, nothing else matters. It doesn’t make any difference what you claim, what you offer or how much I may benefit from a relationship with you — if I don’t believe you.
Believing in you and everything you offer is the key to closing the sale. If I don’t believe you, then the benefit and difference you offer is bogus. You don’t make a sale. I ignore you.
Here are several ways you can build reason to believe in you and your offer:
- Degree and pedigree of your staff
- Volume of customers served, units shipped or dollar value sold
- Process, standards, and certifications
- Awards and recognition
- Testimonials and endorsements
- Success stories (learn more here)
- Features and functionality of your product or service that prove the benefit is real (see step 4)
Notice the number of years you’ve been in business isn’t listed above. The reason is longevity isn’t a very good reason to believe — lots of poor companies have been in business for years. It’s best to quantify longevity to make it meaningful: number of customers, dollar value of sales, units sold, etc. Being in business doesn’t mean your customers like you and your products and services are in demand. But when you quantify longevity, it can take on a meaning that creates great reason to believe in you and your company.
A closing thought on believing: The bigger the promise, the harder it is to believe. You can’t offer less reason to believe than the value of the benefit being purchased. A buyer can accept a level of risk in their purchase decision, but when the gap between reason to believe and benefit is too great, the buyer walks from the opportunity.
Reason to believe closes sales.
Step 6: Create your short story
Let’s jump at this point from analysis of your offer to the short story of your business — an elevator pitch of sort. We need to tie things together at a high level to create clarity about the business you’re in, using this high level perspective to later surface details that support it.
The short story of your business needs to immediately get to the point of the thing(s) you do for your customers. It’s what you want to say without hesitation when you meet someone new and they ask What do you do?
There are two things that go into your short story: 1) The thing(s) you do for your customer 2) The result it creates. A quick example is my short story: I help my clients sell more of the things they have available to sell today — faster.
In that short story I let people know my focus is helping others sell their existing products and services. And the result is selling them faster. This story helps identify prospective customers, signalling people looking for near term revenue improvement that I’m a potential partner. It’s a way to open the conversation and serves as driving point for everything I do and offer.
Picture your short story as a beginning and end of every conversation. It’s is the purpose of everything you do.
Look back at step 2 and the things you do for your customers. Is there a common thread between the things you listed, something that ties them together? Once identified, this is the item we want to focus on — the common benefit your customers enjoy that bond other benefits.
Considering that common point, what are the results your customers realize from that activity? Think of how their condition is improved as a result of owning that benefit.
Now put those two elements together in a brief narrative: the common thread between the things you do for your customers and the result they enjoy from owning it. Don’t worry about the exact language, it will mature over time. Focus more on putting the two elements together in a brief story that strikes the essence of what you do for your customers and the associated result.
While not worrying about length at this point, be cautious not to run on. Remember, this is the short story that opens and ends the conversation. Your core story is a longer narrative that begins and ends with this short piece.
With your short story as the starting and ending point in your mind, map the things you do, features and functionality you offer, meaningful difference, and reason to believe together to create a story that logically tells prospective customers and stakeholders alike who you are, what you do and why people should care.
Here’s how it flows:
- There are things you do for your customers — benefits they purchase that improve their condition. This is the real business you’re in: Steps 1 & 2.
- To deliver these things, you offer products and services (the things you do).
- The things you do are comprised of purpose-built features and functionality: Step 4.
- There’s something meaningfully different about the things you do that add more to the benefit you offer. You standout from your competition in a meaningful way: Step 3.
- Combining the things you do, the things you offer, and the difference you purpose-built into your solutions, there are compelling reasons to believe in you and your ability to deliver the benefit you offer: Step 5
- All of these things are why you do the things you do for your customers. There are no accidents in your offer, they’re all purpose-built to improve your customer’s condition in a meaningful way.
Step 8: Test your core story against your short story
Test your core story against your short story to make sure the two support each other. Do they both tell the same basic story? Does your core story explain your short story in a logical and flowing way?
If not, you need to revisit your short story — likely you’ve missed the essence of your business.
Remember, your short story serves two broad purposes: 1) It’s a way to introduce your company 2) It’s a focus point in conversation to keep mapping everything about your business to and from. And while your short story is part of your core story, we need to take this step to make sure we are properly focused — forest and trees.
Practical ways to use your core story
There are number of practical ways you can use your core story:
Every time you’re asked about your products and services (features and functionality), start with your short story and then explain how specific things you offer and do support it. Everything comes back to a logical explanation of the things you do for your customers — the beginning and end of everything you do.
When asked by a prospect why they should buy from you instead of your competitor(s) (meaningful difference), start with the difference you built into your offer and explain how it’s meaningful to the things you do for your customers.
When a visitor arrives at your website, immediately present your short story as opposed to the things you do — the latter is about you, the former is about them. Organize information around your core story.
Lace your core story into proposals and presentations. Never mention a feature or functionality without difference tied to the things you do for your customers.
Closing thoughts on your core story
Your core story is just that: your story. It’s the story of who you serve, how you serve them, what makes you stand out from competition, and why you can be believed. Your story will mature over time and you’ll soon fall into a comfortable pattern of talking about your business. As you mature your core story, keep referencing the eight steps in this process, testing each tweak along the way.
Test each of the features, functionality, and reasons to believe you listed in the early steps of this process. Listen to people you talk to about your business and note which aspects of your business and core story earn the best reaction and response. You’ll likely find particular differences and reasons to believe are stronger than others — it’s never what you believe to be the greatest part of your offer, it’s what a prospective customer believes that matters most; run with the combination that works best.
Now it’s up to you. Create your core story and enjoy the resulting success.