This is a guest blog post by Kayleigh Alexandra of Microstartups.
Imagine the perfect B2B relationship for a vendor: long-lasting (possibly to the extent of being cross-generational), highly lucrative, minimally stressful, and deeply satisfying. What’s the secret to cultivating that type of relationship time and time again?
We can easily point to things that help: having low prices, offering a class-leading product, showing the right credentials, doing your research, etc. But in the end, there’s just one tactic with the power to capture attention and make people believe — and that’s storytelling.
Why Storytelling Matters In B2B (And How To Nail It)
Master the art of business storytelling, and you can transform your B2B business into a lead-converting powerhouse. Not convinced yet? Allow me to go into greater detail about why storytelling is such a good fit for the B2B world, and how you can use it to great effect:
Your story showcases your qualities and character
Every person has a story — it might not seem that interesting, but dig deep enough and you’ll find some essential commentary on the human spirit. Every business has a story, too, even if the staff (or founders) have never really given the notion any serious thought. These stories can communicate your background and nature better than facts and figures ever could.
What’s more, you can choose how you frame your brand story, all without changing (or even omitting) any of the facts. Telling a story is a heavily subjective process, after all. How are certain aspects presented? Irrelevant parts can be glossed over, minimized to whatever extent possible, while significant parts can be highlighted. It all depends on the prospective client.
For instance, imagine that you were set to pitch to a huge company with a long history of prioritizing the concept of family in business. To that company, what matters more than cost or convenience is loyalty, and only vendors sharing that approach will be considered. Before pitching, you could recount your origin story in a way that emphasized the support you received from friends and family, detailing how you were only able to make it because of them.
Coming away from your story, that company would be more likely to view you in a positive light. Even if they immediately discerned that you’d written a custom version of your story, they might well see that as a plus, because knowing what type of partner a company is looking for shows that you’ve done your homework on them. And on that note…
Retelling a company’s story proves understanding
When trying to win over a prospective client, having the right kind of story behind you isn’t enough: you also need to prove that you understand the company’s needs, drives, and goals. After all, you’re aspiring to be their long-term partner — why would anyone want to team up with a business that didn’t know what mattered to them?
Remember: the smartest B2B businesses know to be proactive in generating leads, arming themselves with as much information and context as possible before reaching out to prospects. Clickback WEB is perfect for this lead-generation process, gathering data on site visitors and making it trivially simple to contact those most likely to convert.
When you’re trying to convince a team that you’ve researched them fully and stand ready to help them achieve their objectives, though, retelling their story is a great tactic. As noted, people (and companies) aren’t always aware of their overall narratives, so having their company history recapped is likely to be a rewarding experience for them. Assuming your framing of their story gels with their perspectives, they’ll feel satisfied that you can be trusted with their business.
As for how you retell their story, it’s all about taking all the information you can find about them and working it into a classic story structure (use these story structuring tips from Jericho Writers to set out the necessary elements). Their company is the protagonist, naturally, spurred on a strong motivation to meet and overcome challenges.
You needn’t spend a huge amount of time on this part, because it’s information they already know, you don’t want to come across as lecturing them about their own histories, and it’s less significant than the next storytelling venture: the last, and the biggest…
Painting a picture of the future drives engagement
If you’ve done a good job of setting out your company’s strengths through telling your story, and followed that up by using your understanding of your prospective client’s story to prove your understanding of the company’s motives and goals, then there’s only one major narrative-based task left ahead of you: telling the story of what you’ll achieve together.
After all, everything we’ve looked at so far is about the past, and things that have already been achieved. When choosing a B2B partner that will hopefully stick around for a long time, the past is far less important than what has yet to be accomplished. Your most important job at this stage is to detail a plausible story of what you’ll work together to get done in the future.
In doing so, you’ll be framing their decision about working with you as incredibly momentous: something they’ll look back upon as a turning point in their story, the moment at which everything clicked into place and things really went to the next level. Get it right, and they’ll leave the pitch incredibly excited about the prospect of partnering with you, having been sold on the long-term vision you outlined.
The value of emotional investment
No matter what story you’re trying to tell, it’s essential that you show that you’re invested: that you care about where you’ve been, that you care where your prospective client has been, and that you care the most about where you’re going to go together. It’s extremely difficult to tell a story well if you’re completely apathetic about it.
For this reason, if you’re finding it a huge struggle to care about the story of a prospective client, you should consider it a reasonable indication that you’re not a very good fit. Compatibility is really important in business relationships too, and two companies that are individually excellent might not work very well together. Source the best possible leads, and you’ll find it so much easier to turn the art of storytelling to your advantage.
Micro Startups is your online destination for everything startup. We’re dedicated to spreading the word about hard-working solopreneurs and SMEs making waves in the business world. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup, entrepreneur, and charity insights from top experts around the globe @getmicrostarted.