If you want to increase sales performance, boost team and customer engagement, and enhance your energy, start by elevating the stories you and your team tell.
Stories are woven into the fabric of your company. They are so pervasive that we hardly notice them. Especially as they relate to our sales and marketing pursuits.
They’re embedded in our sales pitches to prospective customers, sidebar conversations, brand planning presentations, executive boardrooms, and across our political and pop-culture landscape. Stories are everywhere.
Thankfully, many stories are aspirational, and help us level-up.
But unfortunately, too many stories are built with making-stuff-up limiting beliefs. They can leave us feeling stuck or prevent us from starting. But when you challenge your limiting beliefs, you’ll typically find success (and the truth) on the other side.
The commercial business leaders and entrepreneurs I coach are always looking to strengthen their stories. They invest in strategy development and hunt for marketing research pearls; they may also leverage forecasting, sales models, training workshops, and CRM systems.
I, for one, sent plenty of checks to the intelligent folks at McKinsey and SalesForce.com, back in my corporate executive days.
At sales meetings, they urge their sales representatives to pull-through the product or company’s story by:
• Actively listening.
• Asking better questions.
• Adhering to the plan. (Right Customer, Right Message, Right frequency)
• Closing for the business.
These are the same basic directives I heard over 25 years ago when I began my career in sales. I bet you have heard them, too, — repeatedly.
In fact, I’m guilty of preaching these to my sales teams.
The basics don’t seem too difficult, do they?
Then why haven’t we made more progress over the last two decades? Why are we having the same conversation and expecting a different result? I believe Einstein called this insanity.
We don’t spend enough time understanding the dark side of our storytelling. I’m talking about stories you tell others, as well as the ones you tell yourself. The stories that lack aspirational energy and are littered with limiting beliefs.
Owning the dark side of our stories is hard. After all, we are more comfortable today facing our phones than facing each other — much less, ourselves.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious,
it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” - C.G. Jung
Because of the pace of work and life, most of us aren’t aware of the limiting sales and marketing stories we tell. However, when we pause, question, and reflect, we can hear the tales we spin that block our greatness.
Dark stories sound like:
· My customers don’t like to be sold.
· My customers don’t like it when I use my visuals.
· My territory is too big or not big enough.
· I’m not good at role playing.
· Price is a concern. I can’t charge that much.
· I don’t want to be pushy.
· I’d rather be safe than sorry.
· What if they say no? What if I upset them?
· I don’t have enough resources.
· I’m not _________ enough to challenge my key prospects.
Sometimes these stories are valid. But most of the time they are just crap we make up. They sound good at the time and make us feel safe, temporarily.
The risk is, when you go all-in with these beliefs, they become your only option. In the end, you limit your success before you even see your customers.
Your limiting beliefs will ultimately wreck your success.
And they make it difficult, if not impossible, to deliver on the basics.
So what’s the solution?
My advice is to shift the conversation you have with your team or yourself. You can start here:
1. Actively Listen to the stories you hear from your colleagues, direct reports, customers, and yourself. Which ones are aspirational? Limiting?
2. Ask Better Questions to determine what’s behind the emotions of your limiting belief and stories.
3. Develop your Plan by pausing, questioning, and exploring new options as you make the unconscious conscious.
4. Close for the Business by making a commitment to quickly shift to an aspirational narrative when things get dark.
We all know that the world is becoming more complex. Therefore, you and your team will have moments of self-doubt, worry, and anxiety. It’s natural. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead, make the quick shift to the bright side of storytelling and sales.
Do the stories you tell yourself suck the energy out of your day? Click here to download The Energy Enhancement Evaluation to learn more about managing your energy levels.