Storytelling and Taking Customers from Pain to Glory with Ravi Rajani
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he Sales Warrior Within | Season 2 Episode 51 – Storytelling and Taking Customers from Pain to Glory with Ravi Rajani
Andy Olen is a Business Leadership Trainer and High-Performance Coach. Andy works with talented salespeople, business teams, and leaders who seek empowerment, improvement, and insight. Andy’s clients strive to be the best in class.
“Good Selling, Good Leading, Good Living.” – Andy Olen
Storytelling and Taking Customers from Pain to Glory with Ravi Rajani
- Sales warriors can tap into the power of storytelling to connect with customers on an emotional level and inspire action.
- Ravi Rajani, a guest on the podcast, shares effective sales storytelling techniques to take customers from pain to glory without resistance.
- Ravi Rajani discusses his passion for storytelling and its relevance in sales, emphasizing the importance of authenticity and vulnerability.
- Storytelling in sales allows for deeper connections and creates a memorable buying experience, driving change and positive outcomes.
- The Story Framework (S.T.O.R.Y.) simplifies the fundamentals of story selling, helps create a story bank, and focuses on delivery mastery for sales success.
- Ravi provides insights and best practices on the following storytelling topics:
- Stories can include customer testimonials and case studies.
- Sales training traditionally focuses on product features and benefits.
- Good salespeople can translate features and benefits into stories.
- Effective storytelling builds trust and accelerates connections with customers.
- Ravi emphasizes the importance of getting customers to share their stories as a way to understand their pain points and fears.
- He suggests having an elevator pitch and a compelling first story ready to create a sense of comfort and convey the pain-to-glory evolution to customers.
- Open-ended questions are recommended to extract powerful stories from customers, rather than closed-ended questions that may result in analysis paralysis.
- Transparency and openness about not having the right solution can build trust with customers, and referrals to other suitable solutions can maintain a strong bond.
- The show’s call to action is to practice active and reflective listening, which forms the foundation for effective storytelling in sales, and to continuously improve storytelling skills.
You can learn more about Ravi and his offering at TheRaviRajani.com
Get in touch with Andy@andyolen.com. Andy enjoys engaging with the Sales Warrior Community.
Speakers: Andy Olen and Ravi Rajani
| 00:02 | There’s a sales warrior within each of us. My name is Andy Olen, and I’m here to help you discover and empower The Sales Warrior Within. Sales warriors, let’s talk more about storytelling.
| 00:22 | Storytelling is a way for salespeople to connect with customers emotions with their heart inspire them to take action and as today’s guest Ravi Rajani will share with us, it is to take the customer from pain to glory without any resistance using effective sales storytelling techniques. I really enjoyed this conversation with Ravi, you’ll enjoy his energy.
| 00:46 | You’ll enjoy his approach and a very structured style to welcome practice and use stories as a salesperson effectively to create change and positive change for your customers. So without further ado, let’s have a great discussion with Ravi Rajani. Ravi Rajani, welcome to The Sales Warrior Within podcast. Andy Olen, thank you for having me, brother. Thank you for having me, man. Looking forward to this chat because I know you’re a big fan of storytelling as well.
| 01:17 | So look forward to hearing your perspectives too. Nothing more fun than talking to people who talk about storytelling. Absolutely, Ravi. Great to have you and your dialing in today and joining the group all the way from the UK. So what’s going on in England and London area these days? What’s going on is the weather’s still bad and people when they hear me from across the pond, they say, wow. Rav, you sound like Hugh Grant in, you know, the movie love actually.
| 01:46 | And I say, okay, rewatch that movie and you’ll realize Hugh Grant, who grant rather sounds very posh. I, my friend, am not. So, yeah. My accent is not very posh if you come over here in the UK, but that’s what’s happening, my friend, that is all that’s happening. I think we’re all ready for a new Hugh Grant RomCom too. I mean, love actually, my wife, if that thing’s on, she finds it and it is very present in our kitchen whenever Christmas time rolls around or whatever, man. Hugh Grant, an icon and RomCom.
| 02:16 | He’s making a comeback though, isn’t he? He’s doing a few, I think he’s just got a Guy Ritchie movie coming out. He went stale for a period of time and now he’s back with the bank. Yeah. I welcome that and I’ll welcome a Guy Ritchie movie any time too. I did see he’s coming out with a new one, so looking forward to that. You know, speaking of movies, Guy Ritchie, an amazing storyteller. And that’s your passion as well. So if you could share a little bit with the audience, how did you get into and develop your passion for storytelling?
| 02:43 | Well, I definitely didn’t pop out of my mother’s womb and say, hey, I want to be in the world of storytelling and I want to help sales leaders and salespeople embed it into their sales process. I don’t think anybody says that. It’s not really how it works, but for me, and he actually got my start when I was probably about 8 years old and my mom literally shoved me into the same dance school as my little sister. And here’s the crazy thing.
| 03:11 | On the surface to the external world, I hated it. I was the only dude in school in darts. I didn’t want anybody to find out this secret, but internally Andy, I was like, hold on, hold on. This is pretty cool. I got bit by the bug, right? Some people say that when they do a lot of theater performances or on stage, they get bitten by the bug. And that’s what happened to me. So eventually my mom let me quit, thankfully. And I stumbled into theater as a teen.
| 03:39 | So growing up, everybody would always say, hey, Ravi, are you gonna take this whole speaking presenting or acting things seriously? Because we think you’re pretty good at it. And in my mind, Andy, I was thinking, no. I want to make some money. So I’d watch the movie Wall Street, one too many times. As Gordon Gekko said, greed is good. I was like, okay, that sounds cool. So let me go work on the trading floor and let me work in corporate sales. So that’s how I got my start. I finished up business school.
| 04:07 | And then I ended up working in corporate sales on the trading floor over at Citibank over here in London. And interestingly, it was one of those moments where I don’t know if you listening to this right now, but I’ve felt this way, but it was everything I had wanted on paper. Truthfully, everything that I thought I’d wanted, but deep down, when I got there, I felt a disconnect. I felt out of alignment, but I couldn’t really figure out why or what it was to do with I was really just the best way to put it is, yeah, out of alignment.
| 04:40 | So in 2016, I decided to press a jet. And that’s when I started developing what I now call what I had at the time, I portfolio career you know. I was leading sales teams in early stage startups. I was dabbling in the world of TV, radio consulting, but over time, I realized these three things. That why do sales presentations lack personality? It was like it was illegal to show up as who you truly were. And not have a pitch voice, right?
| 05:10 | The second thing was why does every single demo or presentation sound and feel exactly the same? And the final thing was, why is there so much feature setting and not enough storytelling? So here I am. And my focus is on helping B2B sales teams largely across North America, ditch feature selling and sell more through the art of storytelling. You know, it’s interesting that you were a trader.
| 05:40 | Probably not a lot of storytelling during the trading days. So what did you take though in terms of experience from your corporate career? And the stories that you heard within your corporate career and now said, you know what? And I love that. You sort of built a portfolio of gigs that you had and roles that you had and experiences that you had. But what from your corporate career has enabled you to become a successful entrepreneur as well? What did you bridge over?
| 06:09 | Interestingly, I worked as a corporate sales trader. So my job was to have a book of business and grow it, but more importantly, have a solid book of business and sell structured products to these big multinational corporates and help them manage their foreign exchange. So there was some unconscious at that time, storytelling that was occurring.
| 06:31 | And one of the most beautiful things that I think really allowed me to develop a deeper connection with my customers, which I now bridge to what I do in my day to today over here with my business is, I think, the most beautiful thing about storytelling is not the story we tell. It’s the permission we give others through the story we tell and the exchange that occurs from them feeling safe enough to tell you a part of their story.
| 07:01 | So for example, if you want to extract vulnerability, if you want to have a vulnerable conversation, you can’t ask somebody, hey, be vulnerable with me, please. Can you explain X, Y, Z? And I don’t know you. But if we lead with vulnerability, and it has relevance, and it’s authentic, it allows that prospect or human being, you’re trying to connect with to exchange one in return. I think that’s the beauty of it.
| 07:25 | If I really boil it down to this one thing I’ve taken away, that exchange of stories, allowing a deeper connection and focusing on not just winning the deal, but using storytelling to win the relationship in hindsight, that’s I’d say one of the big things. Yeah, that’s great. And you know it’s interesting. I share this with people too. It’s just the observation that when you share the gift of a really good story with a customer, there’s almost a desire to share a story back in return to return the favor.
| 08:00 | There’s almost a story reciprocity that I see developing there. And you just touched on that that when you share a story, it almost gives permission, and it gives an invitation for that other person to join your story, to add on to it, or to take it in a different direction, or to compliment it. Do you see that as well that there’s the back and forth once a story is initiated, is really quite powerful. Totally. If we look at Robert Cialdini’s principles of influence, the first one is reciprocity.
| 08:32 | And I think the same occurs with storytelling. When we exchange a story that doesn’t give us significance, but is intentionally designed to give our prospect significance. And it deeply connects there could be three things that happen, right? For two things that happen and one thing that occurs if it doesn’t connect. If it doesn’t connect, they’re going to go, okay, cool anyway. So what we’re here today for is they’re going to discard it, they’re going to continue with the conversation and just find it irrelevant. The next two things are, in my opinion, very important.
| 09:03 | The first thing is where they pick out a specific moment in your story that connects with them the most. And they ask a question about it. The Holy Land, the Holy Grail, I suppose, is a better way to put it is when they pick out a specific moment in their story. In your story rather, and they exchange one in return. So yes, I see that reciprocity piece is huge in storytelling. And realistically, I don’t know what you feel about this, Andy, but realistically, sales conversations are just human to human conversations.
| 09:35 | But suddenly we put ourselves in a boardroom, we put a suit on, and something shifts in us in terms of our posture, the way we talk, and I think when we boil it down to basics, it’s just a human having a chat with another human. 100%. I’ve seen so many people where you could have a water cooler conversation or a conversation like your meeting with someone at a coffee shop just friend to friend.
| 10:00 | And all of a sudden, that person gets up in front of a board room internal environment has to present or gets up in front of customers and then tries to use all these words that they don’t really know what the definition is. They may not use them correctly. They try to be so polished and all of a sudden they’re authenticity goes away. They’re genuineness goes away. And I find that to be a very disconnecting moment versus just continuing to be yourself, even you know, as you’re sharing something with a customer and you maybe screw up one part, you know, you’re the only one who knows, that just keep going and especially in a story, that’s your story.
| 10:36 | It’s like a fingerprint. And you can tell the story any way that you want. And if you can just anchor in being authentic and genuine with your story and emotive if you need to and connecting, boy, it’s going to make a huge impact. And with you, as I like to say, imperfection equals connection. So I like that. Imperfection equals connection. So you mentioned a few really important things there. And you know I want to double click into them a little bit.
| 11:05 | So historically, salespeople are taught to sell on the features and benefits of their products or their services. And there’s probably time and place to do that. But what I heard you say, which was provocative was instead of doing that, become a story selling in order to replace feature and benefit style selling. What do you mean by that and go into that a little bit more? Oh, I see storytelling in a sales context as not sharing stories around a campfire.
| 11:36 | This isn’t a TED Talk. This isn’t a keynote. These are stories which we share inside of the sales process to create a memorable buying experience. So the way I like to think about it is a story in a sales context is a customer centric narrative that transports a prospect to a world where they can go from painter glory with less resistance. And I think storytelling is a beautiful vehicle for selling without selling, right?
| 12:05 | But stories alone, you know, as I said, this isn’t stories around a campfire. This isn’t American pie. This one time at band camp, right? These are stories inspired to create change, shift perspectives, provide unique points of view, and sell the status quo. We’re trying to get people to take action. What we’re really trying to do is spark change, because really that’s what’s selling is. We’re trying to create change. And so that idea of going from pain to glory.
| 12:34 | You have a framework, and it is actually, it’s called the story framework, but there’s a dot after each letter in that story. So it must be an acronym. It must mean something. Take the listeners in a little bit to what that framework is and how they can start to think about using it effectively. Yeah, totally. So when I’m partnering with a B2B sales team, on how to embed storytelling and create a unique and memorable buying experience, traditionally, they want three things.
| 13:02 | And as I say, traditionally, they really want just three core things. Number one is reduce the cell cycle. Number two is increase average contract value. Number three is drive win rates. And there’s a plethora of other things, but those three are often the most talked about. Amongst my clients, alongside obviously standing out, stop discounting prices, stop being compared to the competition. But if we look at how to measure it, those three things are important. Now, my vehicle for creating that change is my story selling framework.
| 13:33 | And as you said, stories in acronym. So S stands for simplify the fundamentals of story selling. Meaning really teaching a salesperson, what is the difference between a mission statement and a case study and a story rather? What’s the difference between a case study and a story? What’s the difference between a marketing message and a story? Really teaching them the key ingredients for a compelling sales story. Then T begins with tactically creating your story bank.
| 14:04 | So T is tactically creating your story back. Now, especially in a recession, I like to think of 5 stories which I traditionally teach, which can make a team recession resistant. Not recession proof, recession resistant. And those popular 5 stories are an elevator story, personal story, a customer success story, a story which handle handles objections, and a story which describes the cost of inaction.
| 14:32 | So those are 5 stories which are often the most popular and the ones that I’m teaching largely in the climate that we’re in right now. But I always tell people, start with one. And traditionally, it’s starting with a 45 second elevator story. Because one of the biggest problems I see is teams struggle with having a congruent sales message across the board and they don’t know what good looks like.
| 14:57 | So this allows sellers to really share something in a congruent way, but also also add their own personalization and flavor to it. So let’s say they craft that story using my signature story framework. And then what happens is we move to O, which is obtain delivery mastery, meaning you and I is better than anybody having delivered so much training and keynotes. It’s not just about what you say. It’s about how you say it.
| 15:23 | But in the sales process, it shouldn’t feel like a Shakespeare play or you know it should feel very authentic and conversational. So this is where you engage in a Hollywood style table read. You take the story. You deliver it. You test, you tweak, and you iterate. And you practice till your eyes are bleeding, right? You’re practicing to that point where it feels conversational and you earn the opportunity to create freedom within that framework.
| 15:51 | And then we go to R in the story framework, which is ramp your MVP story. So that’s where you’re taking it to market, testing, tweaking, and iterating it, seeing how it lands with your ideal clients in low stakes scenarios, okay? And then we move to Y, which is yield long-term success as listening to Gon calls. For example, looking at the moments where you try to embed that story, what worked well, what didn’t work well, and then you loop back into the T part of the story selling framework, which is creating that next story.
| 16:23 | And every seller by the end of that process should have a story bank. And some people, you know, a lot of teams that I partner with, they just want three stories. Some just want to. Someone 5 really depends on the organization and where they’re at with their story setting capabilities. And Ravi, where can people learn more about your offering, your products, the story framework, and maybe even more specifically how to start with that elevator story? Yeah.
| 16:50 | So if you want to learn more about that process, I suppose my website would be the best place, which is https://www.theravirajani.com/ . But when it comes to specifically crafting that first story, that elevator story piece, I actually have this super tactical and tangible guide on how to craft a punchy 45 second elevator story and it’s literally at https://www.theravirajani.com/ forward slash your elevator story.
| 17:19 | So you can download that, check it out, craft your own story, and go test it. Get going. Yeah, you know, I love the did you call it the story bank? Is that the story bank? I think that is great advice. What I’ve usually referred to, the grouping of stories that you have that you can deploy at different times as your story tool belt. I need the hammer. You might need the screwdriver. You might need the wrench and different stories at different times.
| 17:47 | I think people don’t realize sometimes how broad the definition of story actually can be when it comes to selling. So let me ask you just a couple of questions. Can a story be a customer testimonial? Well, it depends how one defines a customer testimonial. And the best way to explain it for me would be if you go to a shopping mall and somebody comes over to you and they say, hey Andy, would you like a cookie? And it’s got a bite size portion of the main cookie. You eat it, and you’re like, oh, that was incredible.
| 18:18 | Where are the rest of the cookies at? And then you walk into the store and you take a look at the ingredients, the flavors, the packaging, all that good stuff, the boxes. That sample that you tasted before you walked into the store is a story that the 92nd customer success story. That pamphlet, that brochure where you’re checking out the boxes, the pricing, the ingredients, some of the more technical factors to do with the cookies, that is the case study.
| 18:47 | So I think there’s a time and place for both. But I think it boils down to the definition that we have. But I think a lot of people say use cases, case studies and testimonials and stories interchangeably. I see a stark difference. When people are thinking about features and benefits, one of the things that I think historically and even traditionally and contemporarily today, that sales training teams and you and I both have had our feet in more of the corporate sales training environment is that we must teach our salespeople, the features and benefits of our products.
| 19:23 | I grew up in a world of healthcare products. And so when you’re detailing a coronary stent or a laboratory diagnostic equipment or an assay to a pathologist or an interventional cardiologist, whatever the product may be, you have to be very buttoned up and be very confident on the product attributes in a world where sales trainers are still selling or still training a lot on the benefits and features of the product. How do good salespeople translate and take those benefits and features and flip them into a story?
| 19:57 | I’ll give you one example of a way to do that. So let’s say, let’s take a feature and let’s take a benefit. Let’s say on a demo, you decide, you know what? I’m not going to demo the whole product from beginning to end. I’m going to specifically ask what is their biggest problem, extract the pain, have them acknowledge it, and then show them, let’s argument say, one, say one to three features, which are associated with their pain and relevant to them.
| 20:25 | Then what you could share is, for example, a story about a customer who had success with a specific feature and received a transformation on the back end, right? So there’s a story which could customer success story, for example, which could connect with a specific feature and how somebody just like them were able to utilize it, maximize it and achieve results.
| 20:49 | Now, the second way to look at it is if you look at the benefit, okay, the transformation of that feature, that could be, you know, if we look at the transformation of a feature, connecting it to time, money, and energy can be a great thing to do, right? Because that’s what people want more of. So similarly, how can you explain a transformation that somebody has received with the product suite with what you’re showcasing?
| 21:17 | But somebody who looks just like them, I’m talking about has a similar DNA, because one of the worst things we can do is if I tell somebody, hey, this you know, I can help you. Let’s just use a classic example. I can help you increase yourselves by 18%. Yeah, tell Oracle, you can help increase their sales by 18%. You’re going to get laughed at versus an early stage startup who’s just found product market fit.
| 21:42 | So the transformation piece has to be contextual to who you’re sharing it to and knowing your client is super important, but that transformation piece has to be relevant to the person you’re connecting with. Absolutely. And I think that’s a great pivot, though, to say, let me highlight a feature, let me now transition or pivot to a story that’s going to be relevant to you. And I also like the way that you sort of prompted it with a question, and then rotated to the story in order to answer that question.
| 22:13 | You know, it does call on the salesperson to practice storytelling to have the story bank, as you talk about, to be able to be nimble and flexible, to be a good listener to be able to then listen here and then, oh, I know which story to go to. And so, you know, do people have to really upskill their sales skills in order to become effective storytellers, or what advice do you have for them when they want to become good at this? How do they get good at it?
| 22:44 | That’s a good question. So let me take you back to January. January earlier this year, and if I don’t know when you’re listening to this, but 2023, okay? And I was speaking at a SKO for a company over in Chicago. And what I told them was that storytelling actually doesn’t begin with anything other than active and reflective listening. So we understand the right story to share at the right time with the right client.
| 23:15 | So I got them to do this exercise Andy. I said, okay, I need four volunteers. So four people stood up. And I said, okay, I need one of you. One person walked towards me. And I said, okay, my friend. What I’d love for you to do is share with the audience in 90 seconds to two minutes. One thing you’re super passionate about outside of work. I want to know what it is, why it’s important to you and how it’s going to transform your life over the next 12 months, okay? So they share that. Okay. And then the other three people standing up, I said, okay, here’s what you’re now going to do.
| 23:46 | You’re going to recap exactly what this gentleman said and your job is to make him feel seen, heard and understood. Use the language that he’s used. Give your perspective on how we might have felt by picking up on those non verbal cues, et cetera, but your job is to recap his story. AKA teaching them how to recap the buyer’s story. But here’s the kicker. He’s going to choose the winner. He’s going to choose who made him feel the most he’d heard in understood.
| 24:15 | And it was fascinating. Some people would pluck out exact phrases, sentences, statistics, and they would say, when you said X, I saw that you were moving your hands and actually because you felt uncomfortable in that moment because it clearly means a lot to you. So it’s really interesting what we’re looking for and how we’re listening because then it allows us to know which story to tell. So before anything, it actually begins with learning how to actively and then reflectively listen.
| 24:44 | Yeah, and sometimes the story can be just almost talking in return to your customer or replying to your customer with a recap of what they shared with you, really keen in on sort of where they became more emotional about it or where they became more intense about it. And then to empathize and then to think about a story or to give yourself some time to find that story in your story bank, to then connect with.
| 25:09 | But all the way through that process of great listening of rephrasing or sharing back with the customer of being empathetic, what you’re connecting, you’re building trust all the way through, and then you tell a story that incredibly connects and relates as well. It’s a wonderful progression. And really, I mean, if you do that well, one, again, it’s very authentic and genuine. But two, it really does accelerate those important bonds of trust.
| 25:37 | And I was going to ask you about how quickly do you think trust can be made when you use storytelling instead of just focusing on selling with features and benefits? And I think the answer would be, it goes a lot faster. That trust can be accelerated, but why? Why is trust deeper and gained more quickly when a salesperson is an effective storyteller? And you mentioned two words there, which I love, which is trust acceleration.
| 26:08 | I really believe stories are the biggest trust accelerators out there yeah. Now, let’s take it back to the customer success story piece. Because I think that’s a very popular story. We’re talking about in the world today because, hey, people love social proof. Going back to Cialdini’s principles of influence, social proof is very important. People want to know who is somebody just like me, that was once where I was, but has experienced a transformation because I unlocked X or Y so let’s walk through this.
| 26:41 | Let’s say a cellar shares a feature, okay? A feature. They go deep into the technicalities. They go deep into the explanation of, we know, I don’t know. They’re going really in-depth, right? Really into the nitty Gritty. Simultaneously, another rep on another call points out the feature, but then walks through a customer success story.
| 27:09 | That the prospect can see themselves in because there’s a main character. So a prospect can not see themselves in one gigabyte of storage, right? But they can see themselves in a human being who was losing hundreds of thousands of dollars because of X, Y, Z, not having enough storage or whatever it could be. But having a human being who somebody can relate to, go from painter glory, allows the prospect to future pace themselves and mentally rehearse what life could look like once they go from paint to glory.
| 27:44 | You can’t do that with a feature. A prospect can’t see themselves in a feature, but they can see themselves in another human being. So having a relatable human being or really a main character in the story is one of really 5 to 6 key ingredients I believe are critical for compelling sales stories. Yeah, I think that’s right. And you know what I’ve noticed too is that really effective stories also storytellers are very comfortable going into the detail behind the story.
| 28:14 | I work with a handful of professional athletes and when they go into storytelling, especially about when they were young and they played hockey and they remember you know the smell of the locker room and at the hockey rink that they grew up in or the radio stations that were there and the promotions that those radio stations were doing all when they were ten, 12 years old, that detail brings you right into their world. And it is so captivating.
| 28:43 | And so what’s your thought on how far do you take a story? Do you have to moderate your storytelling with a new prospect versus a customer that you’ve had a ten year relationship with versus people in your personal life? How do you set the right tone and tell the right story in those different situations? Well, are we saying here, what is the right level of vulnerability? I think the exact question that you’re saying? Yeah yeah, agree.
| 29:13 | Well, let’s, you know, let’s take it to I’m trying to think of a good example here. Let’s take it to a first date, okay? So somebody’s on a first date with somebody. And they sit down at the table, looking at this prospective partner in front of them. And the person says, so, how are you? How was your weekend? And I go, oh, it was just, I mean, my mom is so annoying. I mean, I don’t really want to go into it. And they just verbal vomit everything.
| 29:42 | It’s the truth, okay? It’s authentic to what that person was going through, but the problem is they’ve just shown up and thrown up. So they’ve not delivered the information in a way that is contextual to where that relationship is today, right? And they’re also teaching the prospect a story about themselves. Classic example is a settlers on a call. And they get asked a question, well, how are you different from X? How are you different from Y?
| 30:11 | They’re either displacing the current provider or they’re being compared against somebody else who they’re looking at. And they trash that person, right? They trash this other person. As a result, that relationship later down the line is going to say the following. Well, that person’s going to think the following about that relationship later down the line if it even gets there. Well, if this person is going to act like this and bad mouth this person on call number one, what are they going to do about me when we actually become partners?
| 30:40 | So I think the beauty in the storytelling of depending on where you are in the relationship is is it should go deeper over time just like any strong relationship. But I didn’t have I didn’t meet my best friend first time. My buddy, who I’ve known for years, it was the best man at my wedding. I didn’t just throw up and show up. There was safety that occurred through vulnerability, that exchange of the story, which deepened that trust.
| 31:06 | And the frequency and the intimacy of the conversations that followed afterwards allowed us to go deeper. So I think it’s a question of frequency, intimacy, and the context of the situation. What do you think? Yeah, I agree with that. I think, you know, the first date example in your personal life is a great example of, you know, this is just an opportunity to get to learn about the other person. There’s a volley, like a good Wimbledon tennis match, a good volleyball back and forth.
| 31:36 | And it’s tell me about you. And it should be reciprocated. Well, now tell me a little bit about you. And really the whole point of that first date is is there enough compatibility to say, yeah, let’s try this again. Let’s go and set another time to get together. Let’s keep let’s keep chatting. In a customer salesperson relationship, I don’t think it’s quite the same value. You really, as the salesperson have to give the customer the right away to share more, to talk more.
| 32:05 | My approach and what I train people on is, if I can get my customer to start telling stories to me, that’s a home run. That’s fantastic. That’s an ace if I go back to my tennis analogy that’s serving up an ace. Beautiful. Because I want to hear where their pain points are, what they’re as you like to say, pain to glory, progression may look like, what their fears are. And if they start to open up and share those stories with me, and I have a portfolio of services that can help them, then we’ll go on that second date.
| 32:35 | When you know they pivot and ask me, well, tell me a little bit about you. That’s when I want to have that elevator pitch ready. I want to have that first story to give them a good sense, a good feeling, a warmth, a comfort, not only with me, but what that pain to glory evolution can look like. Very, very early on. So yeah, I think intimacy grows with time, the depth, the storytelling, the freedom to, you know, many dates into that relationship to say, oh, I’m having a hard time with my mom.
| 33:04 | Yeah, so you can get into it later on. But early on, at least in a customer salesperson relationship, boy, if you can extract your customer to tell and have them share a story with you. Congratulations. That means they feel somewhat comfortable somewhat vulnerable opening up. And that means you’re probably on the right path. Well, I think the beautiful thing about what you just mentioned is touching on that pace of what can you do to make somebody feel psychologically safe for that to have them to share a story with you.
| 33:34 | So I’ll give you an example is one of the things I teach is the way it boils down to or I suppose one of the things I teach is questioning the type of questions that you ask. So let’s look at an open ended question versus a close ended question. So if somebody says, oh, hey, Andy. How many years or months have you been struggling with this issue? One month, one year, two years. You’re not going to get much from that. But if somebody said, um, can you, can you tell me any about the moment when you realize when this was a huge problem for you?
| 34:06 | Yep. All of a sudden, you are traveling back in time to retell and relive, well, actually relive a story about the first moment when you realize, this is a problem for me. So that’s more powerful than can you tell me a story? ’cause the problem is most people believe they don’t have a story to tell, so it can result in analysis paralysis. So an open ended question can be such a beautiful way to extract a story. Yeah, you know, in business, there’s this question that’s a little bit of a cliche.
| 34:38 | What keeps you up late at night? But it is, if you can craft, I would worry, and I would not advise salespeople to ask a customer right away. What keeps you up late at night? Because that sounds like a sales question and there may be some resistance for a customer who’s just starting to get to know you. But change that as you suggested to an open ended question around, you’ve mentioned to me in the past or earlier in this conversation that you struggled with something, you know, tell me about how that struggle creates a challenge for your business today.
| 35:09 | Right. And so that is what keeps you up late at night, but to your point, it’s a specific question. And it really allows then permission and runway for the customer to open up and share the precise story. And if you have that story, then I think you’d agree with this that you’re pretty close to a case study of where the challenges are a use case. And then you are also as a salesperson considering whether or not I have a potential solution.
| 35:37 | Now, one other thing and maybe we will close on this idea is that sometimes salespeople don’t always have the right product or solution or service at that time to meet the customer’s needs. But they can tell a story of someone who may have the right product or service and can refer that person to them. And a great example of that is a good friend of mine as a mortgage broker. In the Wisconsin area in the U.S.
| 36:02 | and he will say to people, if you’re looking for the lowest interest rate to pay for your home mortgage, I’m not going to be that person. And I can refer you to the bank that might be the lowest. Let me share some stories about how we overcome that difference and actually deliver far superior value by closing deals on time by holding your hand all the way through this by making this a pain free experience for you.
| 36:28 | And sometimes some people will go and they’ll take the referral to the other bank for the lower rate, but he says Andy 8 out of ten of those people come back once that other bank can’t close on time. And he said, yeah, so sometimes there’s this art form about being confident enough to say, you know, I may have a solution for you, but if I don’t, my friend Ravi certainly has a solution. Let me tell you about that. Let me give you that referral. There’s something incredibly valuable in telling that story and transitioning as well. What are your thoughts and reaction to that?
| 36:58 | I love that because what your friend has done there is lead with the core objection upfront with high levels of transparency and the truth is if people aren’t a good fit, that’s great. Yeah. They’re going to remember you for introducing them to the right people. And as a result, you’re going to create a great experience for them, which is, I think, what we’re missing today is the experience piece.
| 37:24 | And for the ones that really value like I would, I would rather pay more and get a better service than have to pay three times over three people at cheap rates. You know, and that’s from being burned in the past. So if you can really call that objection out upfront, proactively, way more powerful and charismatic than handling it reactively. I think it’s a really interesting story.
| 37:49 | And I think the last story you mentioned in your story bank was one on ensuring that either fear of missing out or lost protection and you know this one is an interesting one because my buddy will also tell me, I think we’ve all had this experience. Is that when I tell this story about, I believe I may have products for you, but if not, here are some other people that what that does is it allows the customer to do a quick calculation to say, because of that transparency, because of this openness, I do want to pay more and I want to stay with you.
| 38:24 | And so it’s also a way to maintain premiums, and again, none of that is selling on features and benefits. There was a conversation about it, interest rates, but really what it’s doing through that transparency, that storytelling that openness is it’s creating an even stronger bond and that customer says there must be some secret sauce here and I want to stay and find out what’s going on with this company and I’m willing to pay a little bit more for it. 100%.
| 38:50 | If I find somebody who is a true trusted adviser and is going to de risk my purchase for whatever it is and close that Delta, right? And help me transform to where I want to go in the fastest way possible. But I have to pay more for it. I personally would do it. And you’re talking about home purchases, et cetera, which aren’t, it’s not like buying a packet of gum, right? It requires high levels of intimacy, high levels of trust.
| 39:15 | If you’re selling a transactional product at low ticket like low value, I think it’s a very different type of conversation, but in the context of what you said, I’m with you, man. As in, I’m going to pay more to ensure I don’t make mistakes and save my future self from a world of pain, especially when I have little to no subject matter expertise in that area. I want to work with the best. I want to de risk my de risk it. My purchase, period. Yeah.
| 39:42 | And all of a sudden, that’s a fear of loss, my loss is not working with this person who’s being hyper transparent with me. And it’s really interesting. So I think what we’ve shown here today and Ravi, what you’ve really shown, incredibly well, is that you know having a thoughtful approach to storytelling to think about now selling as story selling versus feature and benefit selling, or pointing out certain features, but then being able to pivot to stories, creating that connection with customers, having fun with it, but also practicing.
| 40:14 | And so what would be, just as a final question to The Sales Warrior Within audience, what would be a great call to action for the audience listening to this? Obviously, go check out Ravi’s information and his website. We’ll get it all on the show notes as well. Check out his elevator story. Guide, develop your elevator story, start building your story bank. But what can the audience do today to start to continue to improve their storytelling skills?
| 40:43 | If we could rewind and go back to that section where I talk about how to become an active and well, okay, actually, let’s reframe that. Run that exercise with your sales team on active and reflective listening. And take a look at who inside of your team is naturally gifted at those exact skills, active and reflective listening.
| 41:15 | And if you can bring people up to that level and show them what good looks like, that’s a beautiful foundation for the story selling framework, right? Learning how to become an active and reflective listener, because as I said before, the world, in my opinion, is about getting somebody’s attention, learning how to keep it, and then earning the opportunity to solve their problem. But you’re not going to get somebody’s attention if you don’t make them feel seen heard and understood.
| 41:44 | So I think that’s a great starting point. That’s a great starting point. And it’s a great ending point today. Ravi, thanks so much for joining The Sales Warrior Within. It’s been an absolute treat to talk with you. A lot of great insights, information. And motivation for all of us to continue to be and work on our craft as great story tellers. Great storytelling salespeople as well. Thanks so much for joining today. Thanks, my friend. Thank you again to Ravi Rajani for joining The Sales Warrior Within podcast.
| 42:14 | I absolutely love his energy and his approach to effective storytelling. You know, we talked a lot about storytelling it’s effectiveness. You heard Ravi’s passion for it. Definitely learn more at https://www.theravirajani.com/ and check out his elevator story guide. That’s absolutely one. You’ve got to put into your story bank or put onto your sales tool belt.
| 42:40 | And keep working on your storytelling skills, sales, warriors, active, and reflective listening was the call to action that Ravi left us all with. I’m going to work on my active listening skills reflective listening skills as well. And I encourage you to do the same. That’s something we all can do right away. And let’s get out there. Let’s work on our stories. Let’s keep adding more stories into our story bank and become more confident selling with stories. You’ve been listening to The Sales Warrior Within podcast.
| 43:11 | My name is Andy Olen, and as always good selling, good leading and good living.