We all love a good story.
A good story has a compelling start to hook your interest, the right amount of suspense in the middle to keep you going and an end you will remember forever.
Stories have been told for centuries, yet it is an art to master the skills of good storytelling and to lead the process with impactful and truthful conversations.
We like brevity and getting to the point, but that shouldn’t stop a good story from taking its time to reach its full potential. Andrew Stanton shares in his TED Talk a beautiful perspective on having a great punchline and telling stories that start at the end and work back to the beginning.
What’s your favorite story? Which story with a well-told premise did you connect with and continue to read or watch?
Let’s look into a good story framework and map it to the buyer journey:
Discover > Learn > Try > Buy > Advocate
Every prospect is going through a phase of the buyer journey, and as Forrester shared, they have done their due diligence before reaching out to sales. It’s not really a linear process, but every customer is on their own journey and has a different way to connect with you. Let’s tell a compelling story to bring them into our universe, and we can walk the transformation journey together.
Make it worth the time to care (discover / learn)
When we narrate our story to customers and users, we need to be mindful of our customers’ time and effort. We need to introduce new users to the company and technology, and also find out why they signed up in the first place. Get them excited about their discovery and tell them why they need to explore the solution and have a conversation.
- What experiences do you resonate with?
- How do you craft stories to connect with your target audience in each phase of the buyer journey or customer flywheel (awareness, consideration, decision, adoption and growth)?
In the discover and learn phase, understand your customers’ pain points and speak their language. Help them understand that you care and are here to help.
Gain trust and credibility (try / buy)
When we think of competitive intelligence, many may think of Harvey Ball matrices that show the company’s core strengths. I’ve been inspired by GitLab’s transparency around this, and because of it, I encourage leaders to rethink what (and how) you want to tell the world. Are we true to ourselves and our customers on what really matters? Customers and partners often know more than we think.
I’ve found that customers value a trusted advisor versus a vendor trying to sell the product (which can lead to churn when the promise that got the sale isn’t fulfilled). How often does your product team ask the question, “Why did we make this unreasonable promise?” We should be selling what is available today, and be transparent on what is on the roadmap and what doesn’t or will not exist. It’s always important to have an understanding of what the platform or technology will not do, just as much as all the cool things it will do.
Would you trust a company that is transparent, knows its core strengths and weaknesses and is self-aware? Or one that shows only the best capabilities and how great they are? In the “try” and “buy” phases, help your customers see the real world of possibilities with the platform and help them achieve their vision.
Find your true storyteller (advocate)
It’s easy for us to maintain our status quo and find supporting data for our actions with our own confirmation bias. Our customers are our best advocates, and we need to help them tell their stories at user groups, events and customer programs to give them a voice. Make them the heroes — not your product or your company.
I find that customers appreciate our honesty and that we’re looking out for them — not just in it for revenue and that goes a long way. Now that is true customer lifetime value.
Think about your own personal experiences, when you write a review, do you immediately think about your negative experiences or the positive ones? One negative review will be on a review site, but the positive reviews are often word of mouth, talking about how great the product, company and team was to work with. In the advocate phase, provide opportunities for customers and partners to share their story everywhere.
Before you embark on your next buyer journey mapping, take a minute and ask yourself: Are we trying to justify and prove we are the best? Or are we being true to ourselves?