November 1, 2015
Three Sales Messages That Only Strategic Stories Can Communicate
By Jeffrey F. Silber and Liza Vasquez
Certified Master Business and Life Coaches
Everyone knows the power of stories that illustrate the point you want to make. Stories provide the proof and emotional connection that can help your potential clients understand what you offer.
Sadly this great selling tool is not used enough by lawyers. It’s time you included stories as part of your selling approach. Here are three strategic messages that you can communicate to potential clients only through illustrating examples you can tell.
1. I Know My Stuff
To demonstrate their credibility when trying to sell their services, most lawyers take two approaches. They will either highlight the unique solutions they offer or they will emphasize their background with a few stories about how great they are. The problem is that after a few conversations, all lawyers sound alike: they all seem to be talented and have great ideas. No one stands out.
You need to tell “the right story” to showcase your credibility. And the best ones are conversations in disguise. The key is to put yourself in “the one with the inside knowledge” with anecdotes about the issues. The insights you give in the story will show that you are not new to the industry or subject matter. These stories will also demonstrate how your background and knowledge can impact the potential client’s specific situation—all without talking about yourself.
Example: A lawyer was speaking with a potential client about new developments in the telecommunications industry. After telling a few stories about what he saw happening (complete with colorful illustrations), the potential client said “This makes perfect sense. No one has explained these dynamics like you have.” This is the moment the lawyer knew he had the inside track on landing this client.
2. I Understand You
Have you noticed that most conversations include both personal and business information? Buyers of legal services want to know who they are dealing with especially if you are the lawyer they will work with.
The biggest fear for many buyers of legal services is choosing the wrong lawyer and law firm for the job. Stories that show how you approach your work will lessen this concern. Many lawyers drop the ball when they expect their personality alone to show what it is like to work with them. Stories can make that connection come alive.
Example: A lawyer and a potential client were talking about what makes the lawyer stand out in the marketplace among all others. The lawyer said, “My grandfather was a tailor and I inherited his approach to preparing custom-made suits. My approach to working with my clients is different with each one because it is up to me to adapt my work style to how the client wants to be involved in his or her matters.
3. I Can Deliver
A lot of lawyers use success stories to show that their solution gets results. Again, because a lot of lawyers tell similar types of stories, it’s difficult to stand out.
The worst thing you can do is go too far with narratives that brag. It’s tempting to focus on the successful project or client and point out your heroic effort. Do that more than once in any conversation, and you’ll look arrogant at best or, at worst, you won’t be believed at all.
It can be difficult to choose the best stories. Instead of focusing on the outcome, focus on the point you want to make. Before telling that story to your prospect, ask yourself: “What do I want this potential client to know that I can’t tell them directly? Does this story say anything about how my legal work will impact them?” Run every story you use through this test.
Example: I work with a law firm that takes pride in the customization of its services. Instead of telling stories about how they customized, I suggested they focus on talking about the crazy things clients have asked them to do. The humor was already there, so it didn’t look like the lawyer was bragging. The message to their prospective client: you cannot surprise us. If we can fulfill those companies’ unusual needs and meet those requests, your challenges will be easy for us.
The Strategic Story
The common denominator in the above stories: none features you as the star. They educate and connect. They go beyond emphasizing your value and they actually show how you will create value for them. And all of those stories address what the buyers of legal service really want to know about you but don’t ask!
Get out there and start telling stories.
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