Recently, my family escaped the cold northern winter and jetted over to Aulani, Disney's Resort on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. It was what you would expect - A top notch resort with all of the Disney charm and magic in one of the most beautiful settings on earth.
We enjoyed all types of fun from scuba diving and cage diving with sharks, to traversing the island and seeing where Jurassic Park was made, and of course, spending lots of time chasing our 5 year-old, Hannah, chasing Disney characters all over the resort.
One evening, we discovered a nightly event the resort puts on where a Hawaiian "Uncle" tells stories by the large fire pit overlooking the ocean and the beach. I'll admit, the first time we attended, I thought it would take about 3 seconds for Hannah to get bored and run off to look for more characters. But I was pleasantly surprised by the "Uncle." He told one of the most engaging and captivating stories I've heard in years and kept the audience on the edge of their seats poised for more, including my 5 year-old. From that point, we made it part of our nightly ritual after dinner to go hear a story. And each time, it was the same result - mesmerizing and captivating.
Storytelling, or I should say good storytelling, it one of the best ways to connect with people. It is
hard-wired in our brains and for much of our evolution, things were passed down through story. So I started to take note of the way each "Uncle" told us their story every night and I noticed these 4 powerful elements that you can use to help engage, mesmerize, and captivate others when telling your story or the story of your business.
1.) Grab Attention Right Away with Something the Audience Does Not Expect
The "Uncle" typically did this by playing a song on a ukulele or by asking the audience if they knew what something was that related to the story they were about to tell. It might have been a Hawaiian term or tradition (which most or all did not know the answer to). This got attention and created curiosity which got people (and 5- year olds) listening. This can also be called a "hook." If you are going to tell a story, think of a way you can grab the audiences attention in a unique way quickly and keep them listening.
2.) Make the Audience Part of the Story
The other thing each "Uncle" did was to find creative ways to make the audiences part of their story. They would do this by either involving them in a song that was sung at opportune times during the story or asking them to point out certain Hawaiian words, or alert them to when they did something while telling the story. This kept the audience engaged and keeping up with the story. When you are telling a story, you should always strive to find ways to have your audience participate and be a part of the story. People support what they help to create and giving people a chance to be a part of that makes them that more excited to listen.
3.) Work the Crowd
This is probably obvious, but if you just stand in one spot and don't engage the crowd in memorable way, you will probably lose them. Each "Uncle" had their own way of working the crowd from going throughout the audience in different areas to jumping up on the lava rocks surrounding the story telling area to even playing the ukulele throughout while going to different areas of the crowd. The lesson here is to make sure you are watching your audience and meeting them where they are to bring them into your story. I would watch each "Uncle" pick out the area of the crowd that had kids that were losing interest and find unique ways to get the kids back into the story. You must do the same with your audience.
4.) Make it an Experience
This was a little easier with the backdrop of Aulani and giant lava rock fire pit, but nevertheless, each "Uncle" did a great job making it a unique experience to listen to them and their story. No two were the same. And no story was ever the same either. When you are telling your story, look at how you can make it a memorable experience. What is the one or two most important points that you want the audience to take and ask yourself how you can make those lasting memories for the audience to take with them.
Sometimes you just need a good message. Something to fire you up, motivate you, and give you perspective. Here are 10 of my favorite quotes to get you going and inspire you!
Without a good question, a good answer has no place to go...
Many sales that could happen, never do because the right questions aren't asked. Being a great salesperson takes a number of things. Focused, results driven activity, attention to detail, relationship building, the ability to read people and personalities, etc. One of the most important, or perhaps THE most important is the ability to ask the right questions.
But, what are the right questions? There are so many you can ask! Every prospect is different. Every industry is different. My products are unique. You get it.
After 20 years of leading sales organizations and growing companies, I have found there are 5 critical questions that should be used throughout the sales process. These questions will help you not only focus on the sales with the most potential, but help you to close more of these deals.
Question #1, The Qualifying Question
Nothing is more frustrating than putting in a bunch of time working with a client, running around fulfilling requests, putting together proposals, and everything else in-between, and then having the prospect not make a decision. Or worse yet, finding out they never had an intention of making a decision in the first place. They were just "gathering information."
But how do you know if a prospect is in serious buying mode or just wasting your time? Before you start running around doing what could be a bunch of unnecessary work and wasting your time, ask them this question, "What is your deadline for making a decision?" It is a simple, but powerful question. First, you are using the word deadline which is powerful in that by it's nature, it is a set date in time. Never use "time-frame," because time frames are expandable. But a deadline is not, it is locked in. Second, this question allows the prospect to reveal the nature of their request. If they don't have a deadline (ie "We want to make a decision in the next month, etc"), and say they don't know, you know that they are not buying. By all means, give them some info, find out when they might be looking to by, but don't spend a bunch of time outside of that. This question will save you countless hours and help you narrow down the prospects who are serious buyers in your pipeline.
Question #2, The Onion Question
We are not really talking about onions here, but we are peeling them back. Most sales people ask a question, get an answer and don't go any further. And they wonder why they don't get the sale. You have to peel back the onion and get to the root of the issues, needs, and wants of a prospect. That means asking 2nd, 3rd, 4th level questions and so on.
And the best way to do that is simple. Ask them, "What else?" Or "And what else?" You have to get where you understand THEIR ideas, because it is their ideas that sell the product or service - not yours. Understanding a deep level will give you this and you can simply discuss how what you are providing aligns with their ideas.
Question #3: The Problem Question
Once you have a done good job of getting all of a prospect's ideas and thoughts in a subject, wouldn't be nice to know which challenge you discussed is the most important - the real problem that needs solved?
You can get to it with this question, "Out of all the challenges mentioned, which one is the real challenge for you?" The key here is the "for you." You are smart enough to know you should be talking to the decision maker and if you are, you are bringing it home for them. Putting it right squarely on their sole reason for talking to you. It's time to find out what the most important thing is and asking the question in this way will give it to you.
Question #4: The Nirvana Question
Most salespeople focus on "what a prospect needs" instead of "what a prospect wants." Look, if your product can't satisfy what a prospect needs, you are in the wrong business. Solving needs should be looked at like the bare minimum. Finding out what a prospect truly wants, their grand vision - their "Nirvana," and then showing them how you can help them make it a reality, is where the magic happens and sales superstars are made.
You can do this by asking this question, "What do you truly want out of this solution? What does the perfect world look like for you?" You should quickly follow in saying, "I'm not sure if we can give it to you exactly as you describe it, but I'd sure love to hear what it is so we can try!" This does a few things. First, you get them thinking of something bigger, something that excites them, and second, you are not committing to it, but you are showing that you are willing to work with them toward it - to be a true partner. This shows them that you are more than just "trying to sell them something" and puts you into a different category vs. the competition.
Question #5: The Differentiator Question
So, let's say you go through the whole process and for whatever reason, the prospect decides not to buy. We all wish we could have a 100% close rate, don't we?? Two things to always remember, first "No, means not yet." and second, "the fortune is in the follow up." Most sales people, move on from a great prospect when they get a no. To them, that is the end, when in reality, it is not.
The prospect will continue buying products like yours, so it is your job to stay top of mind for when they are ready. Maybe the solution they bought instead of yours gives them issues 6 months down the road. Or, maybe, they find the service to be terrible. You never know, which is why you need to leave the door open and the way to do that is to ask them, "Can I follow up with you down the road? If so, when?" The last part is most important because this is how prove (if you are disciplined) that you should earn their business. If they tell you "Sure, call me in 6 months," make the note to the day and call them in 6 months. It is this discipline to follow up without fail that will be your big differentiator in the marketplace and win you even more sales over time. Always remember, the fortune is in the follow up!
These 5 questions obviously have their place in different areas of the sales cycle. Start figuring where you can work them into yours. Here's to higher close rates and bigger commission checks!
Throughout the year, I am always looking for standout videos and messages that really make a difference and make you think. I save them and use them at times where I need their message or a little inspiration.
Below are the Top 5 most impactful videos I found to inspire you, make you think, and spur you to action in 2018. I hope they help you as much as they have me throughout this past year. Here's to your success!
Top Video on Mindset and Mental Toughness