Whose Proposal Is More Likely To Win? Your Story, Their Story, or Our Story?

Sales professionals are required to have great presentation skills. But telling a compelling story isn’t simply about making a pitch, or simply running through all of your company’s services offerings and processes. There are three stories that might be told, but only one of them provides you with a greater likelihood of winning the deal.

Your Story

Your company’s story is important. Telling your story gives you the opportunity to talk about what your company does, how it achieves results, and whom you have been able to achieve results for.

If you tell your story extraordinarily well, it will allow your client to see how you and your company’s unique view of the world makes you different, and that differentiation will drive a wedge between your dream client and your competitors. Meaningful differentiation, differentiation that actually makes a difference for your clients, will make competing against you and your company more difficult.

Your story is important, and it must be told well. But by itself, it doesn’t create enough of an advantage to greatly improve the likelihood of your winning a deal.

Their Story

Your dream client has shown up in their boardroom because they have problems, challenges, and opportunities that need to be addressed. They came to the boardroom with their own story and their own vision of what a better future might look like.

Your dream client expects to see and hear your story, but if they are forced to choose between their story and your story, they will choose their story. Your dream client’s beliefs, their prejudices, their worldview, their company culture, and their internal politics all work to create a bias towards their story. If your story isn’t aligned with their story, if they are forced to choose, they will choose their story.

Dream clients do have their own proposals. They may include you, they may include your competitor, or they may include simply doing nothing.

Sales is change management, and your dream clients will work harder to sell their own ideas about change than they will work to sell yours. To succeed in presenting your solutions and your proposals, you have to work to turn “your story” and “their story” into “our story.”

Our Story

Making a compelling presentation and telling a story that your dream client can buy and sell within their own organization means integrating your story and their story to tell a new story.

More than anything else, telling a compelling story means demonstrating how the people, the ideas, and the beliefs of both companies are aligned, and how that alignment creates a better future for both companies.

Our story will provide a narrative that includes the dream client’s story, including the challenges, the problems, and the opportunities that are motivating the dream client to change.

Our story will include your story, but in the context of a new story. It will include how your company has built the systems, the process, the people, and the beliefs that align with your dream client’s story to create value by solving problems, overcoming challenges, and capitalizing on opportunities.

Our story, told well, will include the challenges that will have to be faced together, and how your efforts together will overcome those challenges. There is no story worth telling or worth listening in which the heroes don’t have to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles at some cost.

Our story provides a vision of how your companies will together make changes that dramatically affect their future and the improvements that result from combining your stories. It is story told through the lens of shared values, aligned people and processes, and through pictures and numbers.

Conclusion

Great presenters are great storytellers. But they don’t tell their company’s story alone. They coauthor a new story with their dream clients; a story that includes not only their beliefs and visions, but one that includes their client’s story, their beliefs, and their vision.

Questions

  1. What makes a story compelling?
  2. When you present to your dream clients, is your presentation your story, your service offerings with all of their features and benefits? Or does it include their story?
  3. How do you tell a story that demonstrates an alignment of beliefs and values?
  4. How do you tell a story that provides a compelling vision of the future, including your client’s vision of the future?
  5. If your story doesn’t include your dream client’s story, how certain are you that their story includes you and your story?

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