You’ve heard of StoryBrand — it’s the marketing framework that puts the customer at the center of your message. Created by Donald Miller and taught through his Business Made Simple University, it’s swept the marketing world and given businesses a proven approach to attracting, nurturing and converting customers.
Now the folks at StoryBrand are taking things one step further. They’ve created a new framework, based on the same principles, to help grow another area of your business: Sales.
StoryBrand recently launched a new sales framework, “The Customer Is the Hero,” designed to help sales teams build a more effective sales process. It helps you invite prospects into a story and build trust by understanding their problems, offering real solutions and, of course, casting them as the hero.
As you can imagine, this takes some work to accomplish. Our CEO, Tyler Pigott, takes us through this new sales framework and offers some tips for getting the best results.
The Story Approach
“Sales is a tough job,” Tyler says. “People don’t want to be sold to, leaving sales teams to have to find ways to establish almost immediate trust with prospects to even get past step one.”
That’s where stories come in. Whether you love selling or it makes you a bit uncomfortable, inviting prospects into a story is a natural way to start a conversation and keep the “pushiness” out of your sales process.
Every story has a cast of characters, and so should you sales conversations. As you probably guessed from the title of the framework, the customer should be the hero in this story. They’re the focal point; everything is about them. So where does that leave your sales team?
Their job is to be the guide. You’re helping potential customers build their stories, identify their problems and choose solutions. Your sales people should position themselves as educators. They’re the person with all the information and they’re happy to share it!
“Positioning can seem like an abstract concept, especially in sales,” Tyler explains. “But really it’s all about empathy and competency. If you can show that you truly care about a person’s problem and have the skills to solve it, then you’ve created the trust you need to lead that person through your sales process.”
In summation: the story approach is all about your role. Let the customer take the driver’s seat and strive to be a stellar navigator. Help them identify the root of their problems and make it clear that you’re invested in finding the right solution.
The Sales Framework
The Customer Is the Hero functions similarly to the traditional StoryBrand Framework, except it's tailored specifically to sales teams. In this framework, there are five steps to closing a sale.
1. Start With the Problem
If your job as a salesperson is to find solutions, you first have to know what a person’s problem is. Otherwise you’re just shooting in the dark. That’s why the first step for every sales team is to assess a prospective customer’s problem.
“This gives you a focus for your sales process and allows you to present true solutions instead of highlighting services that might not be a good fit,” Tyler explains.
Once you understand the problem someone is facing, you can start building trust. State the problem back to them to ensure you have it right. This shows you were listening, you care and you’re invested in finding the right solution. It starts building trust with a potential customer, which makes them more confident in moving forward.
2. Position Your Product/Service as the Solution
“People need to see value before they purchase something,” Tyler says. “Your sales team has to find a way to demonstrate value beyond the dollar amount. It has to solve a deeper problem. That’s why positioning is so important. It allows you to sell solutions instead of products.”
This step builds on the first. Once you know what issues your customer is facing, you can offer the specific products or services you’ve developed to solve those problems. For example, if you’re a SaaS company with a time-consuming onboarding process, you might have a service where a member of your team walks new clients through every step. That’s a valuable service because it solves the problem keeping them from a purchase.
“You want to ensure that your sales team knows how to explain the value of your products and service,” Tyler notes. “Presenting it as a problem-solution is much more effective than just sending information. Train your team on how to discuss your products and services so they can make the customer the hero in these conversations.”
3. Build a Bridge
At this point in the sales process, potential customers are likely sold on the idea of your product or service, but two things are holding them back from making a purchase: fear and confusion.
“The sales team’s job is to build a bridge between the idea and the purchase,” Tyler says.
The Customer Is the Hero Framework instructs us to use a three-step plan to close this gap. You’ll lay out the steps a customer needs to take to make a purchase so they can clearly see what’s coming next and if they want to invest their time and energy into it.
“Telling the customer exactly what to expect alleviates their uncertainty about next steps and makes the decision process more efficient,” Tyler notes.
A sales conversation that builds a bridge might look like this:
“Thanks for your interest in our service! There are a few more steps that will help us ensure we recommend the right solution for your problem.
- Attached is a list of options our service comes with, and I’ve highlighted the items I think best fit your situation.
- After you’ve reviewed this list, I’ll schedule a call to answer any questions and review your choices.
- Then, we’ll draw up a contract and send it over for your final approval and signature!”
Now your prospect knows exactly what to expect in the coming weeks and you’ve re-established yourself as the guide. You’re not using pushy sales tactics, or springing surprise deadlines (two of consumers' worst fears when working with salespeople), just lending a helping hand.
4. Create a Sense of Urgency
Every story needs stakes. It’s what keeps things interested and people engaged. So to have a truly effective sales process, you need to create some stakes for your customer.
In this stage, you’ll discuss the positive and negative outcomes. What good things will happen if they choose to work with you? What bad things will happen if they don’t?
“You don’t want to be all doom and gloom,” Tyler explains. “Creating urgency isn’t the same as scare tactics, which you should never use. Instead you want to give the customer an honest assessment of what life looks like with and without your product. If you’ve really made something that solves a significant problem, then this part will be easy.”
The truth is, people need a clear win-lose scenario to feel motivated to purchase. If their life won’t change with your product or service, then why spend the money? It’s your job as a salesperson to establish the wins and losses, which create the sense of urgency that drives people to purchase.
5. Invite the Customer to Purchase
This is where selling can feel awkward for some people, but if you don’t ask, you won’t close. So you have to gain the confidence to be direct.
“Asking for the sale shows that you believe in your product,” Tyler explains. “It’s not pushy or forward. It’s simply saying, ‘I have the solution you need and I’d love to give it to you.’”
When you ask for a sale, you garner respect from potential customers. You’ve already built trust throughout the sales process and now, as the guide, you’re encouraging them to take the necessary action to solve their problem. And if someone is a good match, they’re happy to say “yes.”
It often helps to write out a specific call to action and memorize it. Choose something that can apply broadly and makes it clear that you want the person to make a decision. For example:
- “I can get you started for X dollars a month.”
- “I think this is the perfect solution to your problem. Do you want us to create a contract?”
With these, you have a natural way to move customers into decision-making mode at the end of your sales process.
Bonus: Send Affirmation
Who doesn’t like receiving affirmation? Especially after making a big purchase or investment, your customers are likely to experience a little buyer’s remorse. To help curb those negative emotions, send a follow-up note to affirm that they made the right choice and introduce them to their new guide (usually a member of your customer services team).
“Many sales teams forget this step, but it’s so important for solidifying the relationship you built during the sales process,” Tyler says. “It’s how you show them they’re in good hands, they have the right solution and your internal team is just as trustworthy as your sales team.”
These steps can take some time to work through and get comfortable with, so StoryBrand released its free Sales Script tool to make things easier. You can fill out your Customer Is the Hero sales script at onlinesalesscript.com.
Using this sales framework gives you a powerful plan to utilize story in the sales process. However, figuring out exactly how to implement it in your business is another story.
Tyler offers two important tips to ensure you get the most out of The Customer Is the Hero framework:
- Always qualify your leads. “This process doesn’t work if your solution isn’t a match for a customer’s problem. You need to ensure the people you’re spending time with have the problem you solve, otherwise they won’t see value in your product or service.”
- Use the sales script for each product. “It’s tempting to go broad so you only have to do this once, but that will leave a lot of gaps in your approach. Try to fill out a full sales script for every product or service that you sell so you have specific information to share with prospective customers. This gives your sales team key talking points to demonstrate your value and take the problem-solution approach.”
Sell The Customer’s Story
This new framework from StoryBrand is designed specifically for sales teams to make the sales process feel more natural and cater to prospects’ problems. Working in tandem with the StoryBrand Marketing Framework, it will help your business harness the full power of story across both teams.
Interested in training your team on this framework? We can help with that.