As an account manager, you listen to your clients’ problems and needs, then inspire them with stories of possibility with your solutions. To do so, you need to take it up a notch and go beyond the customer stories prepared by marketing. Now you may be thinking that it’s marketing’s job to create stories for you, but this is not entirely true.
While marketing might bring some stories to life, you connect to people on a deeper level based on the stories you share and how you share them. Stories bring your solution to life and help clients see themselves enjoying the benefits. They also remind customers of the challenges they want to overcome while helping shift their perspective on how to overcome them. Ultimately, they are effective because people can relate to well-told stories and remember them.
So, we encourage you to not just view customer stories as dry pieces of facts you sprinkle into your sales deck, but along an actual narrative and into the fabric of every conversation or pitch you deliver to your customer. When shared properly, your stories will drive engagement and demonstrate empathy.
What makes a good story?
For stories to be effective, they must possess four key characteristics. As filmmaker Peter Guber wrote in ‘the Four Truths of a Storyteller’, these elements are:
- Mission focused
Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements so you can become a better storyteller.
Authenticity is the critical ingredient in any good story. As the teller, you must believe the story you are telling. That means doing more than reading the script marketing gave you. Instead, you need to understand the story inside and out. Then tell it with conviction, so you make your client feel your emotion and believe it as deeply as you do. Showing emotion while telling stories enables your audience to identify with you, increases understanding of the points you’re making, and encourages action on the part of your client.
To be a better storyteller you must listen first, so you’ll know your clients, their industry, challenges, goals, and problems. Then you’ll know what they want to hear about too. That’s how the best sales storytellers know what matters to their customers. They know what story will resonate, and which pain points to touch on in their story. They make sure it’s relevant to the specific audience. And by doing this, your story engages your client, draws them in, and keeps them involved to the end. In fact, involving your customer means telling your story in a way that encourages interaction and participation by the listener. This helps your client see themselves as the hero in the story, making it take much more real to them.
The third characteristic of a good storyteller is preparation. A great storyteller rehearses, changing out phrasing and words, and modifying which details they share depending on the audience. This makes it easier for you to tell the story in the most relevant and believable way to your audience. Learning your stories inside and out so it becomes effortless for you to retell it and reframe it differently for each situation. A great storyteller never tells a story the same way twice and is able to adapt it based on context. So, practice, practice, practice! Each time you retell a story it will be slightly different, and you’ll become even better at telling it.
Great storytellers are devoted to a mission and present their stories with passion. To do this you need to know what your clients need to hear, not necessarily what they want to hear. What you are telling them may differ dramatically from what they believe. But by telling them a story about a solution you passionately believe will solve a problem or help them meet a goal, you’re acting as the trusted advisor they want you to be. They’ll be willing to listen because you’ve already gained their trust. Earlier on, this is a way for you to develop a deeper relationship and partnership with your key accounts. And isn’t that what they expect of you?
As you can see, storytelling can make you a better account manager. It enables you to show your clients that you understand them by telling them, through a meaningful and engaging story, how you can solve their problems and meet their goals as you did with other similar customers. These stories allow you to demonstrate empathy for your clients, cement your bond with them, and elevate you to trusted advisor status in their eyes.
Are you ready to take your account management skills to the next level? Take a look at our online training and resources at KAMGenius.