Sunday, July 27, 2014

Matching Your Story to Your Insight and Your Value Proposition

There is a buzz about storytelling for business everywhere you look. You see seminars, webinars, eBooks, and blogs about how to create them and how they'll help you. I have some insights I've gained in my journey to becoming a sales trainer and storytelling coach. I was planning to be a teacher until my divorce and the need to up my earning power set me on the path of a sales person and then a sales trainer. Several of my required courses for teaching included Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. As I read many of the articles on storytelling, I realized that it was important to share how the story telling and Maslow's Hierarchy fit with proving insight and a value proposition for your listener.If you are not familiar with the hierarchy, you can check it out in Wikipedia as graphics cannot be included here. Each level is listed below in the order of the hierarchy.You can assume the listener has their first level physiological needs met or they wouldn't be listening to your message - they'd be seeking to satisfy those critical basic needs for survival. Therefore, your target audience member could be from any of the four higher levels on the triangle. When creating your story and your unique value proposition, research as much as you can about your target audience and particularly the intended listener to determine which of the levels might apply. Here are some examples:· Level 2 Safety - The person is a manager in a department that is threatened by outsourcing or being declared redundant. Your value proposition could include a service or product that would help the person or the department become more valuable to the organization. Then your story could tell of a situation such as being cut from your baseball team or the swim team as a child. This inspired you to dedicate yourself to excellence and helping others increase their value. Provide an example of how your product or service successfully helped someone in the same situation bring renewed personal or department value to their organization. They may have ultimately changed jobs but they increased their value and employment opportunities.· Level 3 Love/Belonging - Suppose the person has landed on your website for family services such as helping a child who is failing in school. Your value statement would tell how your service is unique and it looks at the situation from a different perspective such as individually tailored to your child's interests or hobbies to provide strong motivation to succeed. Your story would tell how you liked helping others as a child or young teen. You can relate how your current job ties to your core value of helping others. You can provide several examples of a family that benefited from the service.

· Level 4 Esteem - The listener in the "Esteem" level would be interested in how he or she could achieve the next level of success in the company with a solution tailored to a situation you perceive exists in the their organization. Your story could tell of how you felt when you worked with a manager in another company and helped him get a promotion or a highly valued recognition.· Level 5 Self Actualization - At the highest section in the hierarchy are the values that a C-Level executive may be wresting with for the entire organization or a troublesome division. A friend of mine has offered a value proposition to work with a company on increasing the creativity in the company. Her targeted prospect has been mentioned in blog posts and news articles as not offering as many innovative products. There were hints they were getting stale. She developed a value proposition around generating creativity and then crafted one of her "Who I Am" stories around how she had been a left brain technology worker that found her right brain creative skills and developed training for others in her industry. She related one of her many successes and gained a new customer.There are multiple messages in this post. First, one story told one way doesn't fit every situation. Second, research and preparation before making that all-important call and telling your story has a big payoff. And third, being personal and including a story that tells about you and your character is more memorable and resonates with your prospect.

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