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The Story Engine Podcast: Where we teach you how to make marketing easier, more powerful and fun through storytelling. Each week we learn from top entrepreneurs, influencers and world-changers on how to share your story through content, copywriting, speaking and how to make your story your most powerful marketing tool.

Sep 3, 2019

Sales is one of the most crucial skills to master for experts, coaches and consultants when growing a business and selling high-ticket products. For many of these expert types, their core skills have been focused around solving big problems for people (healing chronic diseases, solving technical problems, training teams to be better organized... the list goes on and on). But rarely between the time and energy spent mastering their craft did they have time to learn marketing, sales and storytelling. 


Unfortunately for them, it’s not enough just to be skilled in solving a problem. You need to get your message out to the people who need this problem solved, and you need to build trust with them and a desire to work for the result you provide. Sales is consistently one of the most difficult skills for experts, coaches and consultants with high-end products. Sales is a unique skill that is as much a game of tactics as it is about managing your mindset. It’s difficult to succeed with only one.


I work with a lot of experts just like this in my agency, and I’ve seen a few common pitfalls that happen during those key moments when they have the opportunity to share what they do with those who need it. 


Today we’ll explore 3 of these pitfalls, along with solutions for each of them. Let’s dive in.

1 - Getting into the weeds


This is one of the most painfully common mistakes people make in sales, and in most conversations around their area of expertise. 


Most experts are so immersed in their knowledge, and so familiar with it, that they’ve lost touch with how the people they serve view what they do. 


This results in getting way too deep into the weeds during sales conversations. The expert wants to explain as much as possible about what they do, what they know and every detail of how they work with their clients. This overwhelms the listener -- they keep nodding and pretending to listen, but they’re checked out and just waiting for the conversation to end. 


What your audience really wants to know is the result they can expect to get when working with you. They don’t need to know every step of the journey, but how you’re going to get them there faster, easier or better than anyone else can do. 

Solution - Create a proprietary process


Most experts don’t have a short and concise way to explain what they do and the results they get for people. Having a tried and true framework to describe your business -- whether on stage, on a sales call or in everyday conversation -- can make sales so much easier and more fruitful.


A proprietary process is your “secret recipe” for how you get results for your customers. It’s a narrative for you to communicate the “what” and “how” behind the results you bring people. 


In its most basic form, a process is made up of:


  • A name for the process, with a results-oriented title
  • 3 to 5 steps that map out the success path for a client working with you (more than 5 can overwhelm the listener)
  • A few key stories prepared to enhance and teach around each step, show why you’re different and overcome common objections.


With these simple components, you can share what you do, how you’re different from your competition and the results that people can expect to get while working with you. 


You can learn more about how to create a proprietary process by reading my article How To Differentiate Yourself With Storytelling

2 - Over-focusing on price


When selling high-ticket products and services, it’s sometimes difficult to think about anything other than the price. This is especially poignant for experts who consider themselves humanitarians, or who have a deeper purpose to the work they do. Charging what you’re really worth can be uncomfortable. For most, the true value of what we do is often very different -- and far greater -- than what we think the value is.


This means, on sales conversations, we’re nervous at the moment we share the price of what we’re offering. As soon as a potential client objects to the price, we drop it -- and sometimes we drop our prices before we even have the conversation. 


But both the expert and client suffer when this happens. The expert has fewer resources to create the result they’ve promised. They may need to cut corners, or sacrifice their own wellbeing, to make it work. The client has devalued the service and may not be as committed to the process after a discount.


Your listener wants someone who is confident in the value they provide and willing to stand by it. They want someone who trusts themselves to get the results they promise. 

Solution - Have a story for every objection


One of the most common things I hear from the clients I work with on presentations is, “I’m not sure what stories to tell.”


The best place to start looking for storytelling inspiration is in the sales conversations you’re currently having with potential clients. As you develop your business and your niche, you’ll probably start to see patterns in the common objections that come up.


With high-ticket products, a safe bet is that someone is going to object to the pricing of your product, but there will also be objections that arise because the client does not trust themselves to succeed with your product or service. Maybe they’ve tried similar things before and they didn’t work, maybe they doubt their ability to achieve their goal and perhaps they just don’t feel ready. These objections all boil down to “I don’t trust that if I invest this money, I can get a return on it.” It’s just a matter of why they don’t trust that you need to discover.


When faced with objections, it’s common to try and directly and logically respond to them and try and refute them. This often makes the customer dig in their heels and resist more. It’s human nature. 


Once you understand the “whys” behind the objections, you can craft stories of past clients who had the same objections, but overcame them. 


“Phil wanted to invest in coaching, but he didn’t quite have the money to cover the program, so he got creative and had a few friends and family members pitch in to cover the rest. They became invested in his success and encouraged him throughout the program. With the extra accountability, Phil completed the program quickly, paid his friends and family back and doubled what he invested.”


Using a story like this instead of directly addressing objections helps lower people’s defenses. Stories feel more like teaching than an argument, and allow the listener to imagine themselves in the role of the person in your story.


Better yet, if you have opportunities to teach before you have sales conversations like this, such as presenting from the stage or in a webinar, you can build these stories into your presentations and overcome objections before they even have an opportunity to take root in the mind of your audience.

3 - Over-teaching when presenting

There’s a careful balance you need to strike between being generous with your expertise and building interest in your offer when presenting to an audience. Experts, coaches and consultants who have been focused on solving problems have a difficult time managing this balance.


A common mistake for experts is to teach too much by giving detailed explanations of how to solve the problem. This shows off their brilliance while they’re presenting, and can delight the audience, but it often leaves the audience feeling like they’ve learned everything you have to teach, or at least feeling like they have what they need to go off on their own and fix their problem without any additional need for your services.


This is obviously a disservice to you as the expert, because you miss out on potential business. But it is also a disservice to the customer, because they’re likely to leave with this feeling of confidence but quickly forget what you taught, and end up with a poor result or in exactly the same place they started. 


You’re not just missing out on money -- you’re missing out on an opportunity to make the impact you set out to make. 


Solution - Teach to sell


There’s a careful balance of selling and teaching on a webinar that you need to maintain to successfully convert your audience to customers. You can’t oversell -- nobody is going to stay tuned to a webinar full of product pitching and no value. But most people tend to err on the other side of the spectrum.


The balance is teaching to sell. Instead of teaching people “how” to do something, you teach them “what” to do and “why” it’s important. This may seem like a subtle difference, but it could turn out be thousands of dollars of difference. So instead of going into too much detail on how to do things, work on teaching them that it is possible to get what they want with you. 


One of the most common things I hear from my clients when starting with me is their frustration with this process: “I wish I could just help people and not have to worry about marketing or sales.”


I feel you -- I do too. But if you want to impact the world on your terms and sell more of your products, you need to get into the arena of marketing and sales to succeed, because there’s a lot of people out in the world who are desperately searching for whatever it is you provide. There are many others who are less talented than you out there speaking to those people, and between you and me, we know they can’t be trusted. Their audiences need to be engaging and working with you. 


So get out there, start telling your story and sell more!