Selling yourself – what’s your story?

By Michael Major July 01, 2014 Industry news

“The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice” (George Eliot). We operate in a buyer’s market and people also want to know more about the business behind the product so they get a sense of the “trust factor”.

So today, we have to sell not only our products or services but also our companies.

Your customers have real choice now, like they’ve never had before. And, with so much choice available, your story as business owners becomes one of the critical components in differentiating your business from your competitors.

Regardless of whether you’re competing on the cost curve or the value curve, your key differentiator is who you are and why you are in business.

 

PEOPLE LIKE TO DO BUSINESS WITH PEOPLE THEY LIKE AND TRUST

Your story provides a strengthened emotional connection to the customers you want to do business with. It provides the compelling differentiation between you and your competitors. Your story engenders customer curiosity to know more and it engenders customer loyalty.

It is the foundation of the two-part “emotional engagement selling” equation. These two parts are interdependent between (1) your products or services being sold as a want, not just features and benefits needs. And (2) at the same time making sure your product or service is relevant to your target market.

The Harvard Business School published research in 2013 on the financial benefits of emotional engagement selling. The research determined that businesses which use emotional engagement when selling products or services achieved the following financial results:

  • 86% faster growth.
  • 25% higher margins.
  • 21% higher Net Profit.

Naturally, for some industries these results were higher and for some they were lower. Nevertheless, overall, all the businesses surveyed achieved higher financial gains than businesses that didn’t use emotional engagement to sell.

Why is emotional engagement important? Buying a need is a pragmatic decision usually based on price, time and quality. Price becomes a significant driver in the decision process.

In emotional engagement selling, price is not as significant. Time and quality are still critical but, with emotional engagement, price becomes less critical, the reason being: they just want it!

 

WRITING YOUR STORY – A FOUNDATIONAL STRUCTURE

The following is a simple structure to build your business story. My suggestion is to write about 1000 words as your first draft, then edit this draft down to a minimum of around 500 words.

Why does your business care? Start by explaining why you went into business in the first place.

Talk about why you care about your customers, the work you do, the products and/or services you sell and the difference that you can make not only for your customer necessarily but maybe also for the community generally.

It’s the reason most successful businesses were started in the first place – to make a difference beyond business financial results. You need to share this because customers want to know that you care for them – they want to feel wanted too!

Remember in the May article we talked about what you are passionate about, what you care about. The two substructures below explain in more detail how you can do this:

Tell them who you are – Tell them what you are passionate about; tell them what you stand for; tell them what you do, the services and/or products you have.

Tell them why it matters – Explain to them the purpose of your business beyond financial results. Your vision, the three most important values you hold yourself and your business accountable to.

Tell them why your products/services are important! This is where most businesses, start-ups (and their business stories) come unstuck.

They forget to ask themselves the most important marketing question in the world:

Why will people care about my business, my products or services?

Explain why your product or service is important for your customer:

  • Why do they need it?
  • How does it add meaning to their life?
  • How does it fit into their life?

Next month I’ll help you gain a deeper understanding of your customers’ emotional drivers.

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Michael Major can help you explore and leverage your inherent competitive advantage. Follow his articles over the next 10 issues, answer his questions and email Michael on connect@7degree.net for feedback. If you send answers for all 12 issues you can be one of 4 people to win a free half day consultation!

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