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08.24.06


Sales Through Storytelling

By Craig Harrison

Sell skills, values and experience with short, powerful success stories that showcase your skills, experience and values...

An old French proverb tells us "Nothing succeeds like success!" And in sales nothing succeeds quite like success stories. Are you sharing yours? Why not? The secret is in how you share your successes.

Learn to tell thirty-second "success stories." During sales calls a quick-hitting story can make or reinforce a point in memorable fashion. Success stories may be told in response to a question, to serve as a testimonial, or even as an aside. Did you know you had a storied past?

Stories work for several reasons: they're more memorable than numbers, names and dates; and listeners enjoy the drama: a problem followed by a solution, a mystery solved with a twist, or a creative workaround to a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Also, your listener can find him or herself in the story. A good story will resonate with prospects.

"We're wired for stories, individually and collectively. Since the time of Odysseus we've been told stories. Since we were little kids we've been read and told stories. This is how we've been conditioned to learn; our morals and our values are taught through stories." So says Gay Ducey, past president of the National Storytelling Association.

Look at your sales history and pick out an accomplishment. Now tell the story behind the accomplishment. It states that you helped a past client increased sales 60%. But tell how you did it; Cite a "before vs. after" description. What was the secret? Stories that reveal secrets captivate.

Wanna wallet stuffed with $10,000?

The Three S's of Success Stories

Success stories offer a setting, a situation and a solution. Remember, you're the hero of your stories. Your decisions, actions and insights made the difference.

Here is an example:

"We recently received a call from a merchant unhappy with their current vendor. They were paying high fees, receiving poor service and experiencing frequent security breaches. In short order we were able to launch a wireless processing system that was more secure, more reliable and even less expensive. Through customization we were able to address their foreign and domestic needs, a strength of ours."

Not only does this success story demonstrate an independent sales organization's ability to solve problems, it showcases an understanding of business, markets and methods.

Stories can demonstrate your professionalism, customer service, researching ability, creativity, problem-solving inclination or other strengths.

Consider this story for a job-seeker:

Here is an example of how one candidate summarized his most recent employment for a competitor:

"In my last job I was hired to manage a production department at war with the editorial department. I walked into an environment full of distrust and resentment, built up over years of animosities and recriminations. Through my implementation of cross training between departments, initiation of mutual social outings such as picnics and scheduling of project post-mortems we were able, after 6 months, to convert resentment into understanding and competition into cooperation. As each department began to understand how the other one worked we were jointly able to improve the workflow and consequently shorten time to market with publications. Even quality improved as we better understood how best to work together. That showed me the importance of internal communication and how hard it can be, though not impossible, to change an existing culture."

Not only does this success story demonstrate the candidate's ability to solve problems, but it shows interviewers the candidate's understanding of interoffice politics and the human side of operations.

Stories can demonstrate your detail orientation, dedication, leadership, independence, researching ability, creativity, serice or problem-solving inclination. Remember that employers want well rounded hires so make sure they see evidence of your varied skill set. Here are a few examples:

Click here to resume reading this article


About the Author:
As a self-employed speaker, trainer and consultant on communication and customer service topics, Craig Harrison is simultaneously a decision maker, gatekeeper and caller on a daily basis. Craig is standing by to take your calls and e-mails: (510) 547-0664, or via Excellence@craigspeaks.com. Visit his website at http://www.ExpressionsOfExcellence.com.

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