I once heard Seth Godin say, “They aren’t rejecting you. They are rejecting your story.” As someone who is in the sales business (and aren’t we all?) I began to think long and hard about “my story.”
We all have a narrative continuously running in our heads. This narrative can influence us in many ways. It can cause us to prejudge (fairly and unfairly) others and their stories.
For instance, the number one movie in the world right now is “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” Is this movie the very best thing in the world right now? Probably not. However, leading up to its release, people’s internal stories told them it would be amazing. Therefore, they flocked to theaters as soon as they could.
On the other hand, if an unexpected salesperson shows up at a business, it is quite probable the decision maker in that business is already telling himself a story that this salesperson is a waste of his time.
The visiting salesperson may very well have a story running in her head that her product or service is so beneficial to this potential client an appointment really isn’t necessary, and she’ll prove it.
These are diametrically opposed stories. More than likely, this encounter will not end in an agreement to do business together.
Understanding the “stories” concept will put many things into perspective. But is also raises the question, “How do we get the stories to line up, or at least become somewhat similar?”
The answer is simple. “Touches.”
In the concept of the Touch, relationships are born and fostered. Each encounter, or Touch presents an opportunity to either move the stories closer together, or farther apart.
In the “Guardians” example, Marvel Studios has been Touching its audience for decades. They have an extremely solid relationship with them. From comic books to movies, television shows, conventions, and memorabilia, the story Marvel is telling is almost identical to the stories running in the minds of its audience.
Let us remember, the uninvited salesperson isn’t there to swindle the wary client. But their stories are so far apart that closing the deal is almost impossible.
But if the encounter is more of a Touch and less than a sales call, the stories can slowly be brought closer together.
A good salesperson will follow up an initial Touch with other “non pitch” Touches. These can take the form of a Thank You note, or an invitation to lunch. Social media can provide a host of touches. Connecting on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook can further foster the Touch relationship.
It all has to be genuine and intentional. This isn’t a fishing expedition where the salesperson is trying to land a “big catch.” Every touch can either move the stories closer together or farther apart. And people can read right through disingenuous Touches.
Over time, the stories can be brought closer together, where the transaction (and many others) can take place. Any positive Touch is a victory, because it reduces the potential for rejection.