At one time of another, I expect we’ve all been there — put on the spot to say something and not quite knowing what to say. It can happen on the phone, in a meeting, following an introduction, etc.

Here’s how it generally starts, we’re asked a conversationally polite question:

  • What does your company do?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Who are some of your customers?
  • Who are some of your competitors?

The way it ends is often awkward, with an incoherent answer that doesn’t create interest. The conversation stops.

We often handle these questions by falling fall back onto our products and services — spouting features and functionality of our offer. The problem with this approach is we reduce our value to access to the things we offer, forcing our products and services to compete head-on with other products and services in the marketplace. This isn’t a bad strategy if your product or service is the acknowledged winner in your market, but it sucks for the rest of us 🙂

[note]As a side note, when you lead with your products and services, the reality is you’re begging for a commodity comparison of your goods and services versus your competition. This leads sales teams to demand more discount authority, more features, more product innovation, and more service giveaways to win. Each of those requests may have a thread of truth, sincerity, and even necessity, but more often than not it’s because the sales team doesn’t know how to talk about the things they do for their customers and instead rely on the things they do to beat their competition. Again, this is OK if you’re the acknowledged market leader, but acknowledged market leaders are scarce and by definition there is only one.[/note]

Looking at the list of questions above, the opportunity is obvious — when asked, each is a chance to talk about your company in a favorable and compelling way, positioning your offer against competition and opening a meaningful dialogue with a prospective customer. Considering the questions further, answering them isn’t hard when you’re versed in the core story of your business. In fact, with a strong core story, you welcome these questions and more.

If you want prospects to get it faster, rely less on price to win, improve the quality of your sales leads, shorten your sales cycle, and overall close more business, your core story is where you should begin. With a solid core story, you’ll always know what to say in a compelling way that creates interest to learn more.

Here are three posts to help you learn more about core stories and create the compelling story of your business:

People are always listening. The rub is people judge our offer and form opinions as we speak. What you say next will win or lose the sale.

It makes no difference if you’re heard or not, if you don’t know what to say.

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