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The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

October 27, 2014 • Issue 14:10:02

Inspiration

Spin good yarns to boost sales

An age-old tool used for millennia to captivate people long before the first merchant level salesperson (MLS) stepped into a retail shop is available for enterprising agents willing to do just a little bit of preparation. Want to know what that is? Storytelling.

Yes, that's right, storytelling. Why? Because stories engage people in ways that mere facts cannot, even when the facts are worked into elegant, colorful PowerPoint presentations.

What makes a good story?

Stories can work on listeners' unconscious minds and stir their emotions. In order to do so, however, stories must have certain attributes. A good story must:

  1. Have clearly defined beginning, middle and end
  2. Contain plenty of visual and sense-based detail
  3. Move in real time

Here's an example of a simple story that lacks the attributes just listed:

I'm bummed out. I wanted to get the paper. There's a wreck near here. Staying inside is best on a rainy day.

Here's one that contains all three attributes:

I went to get the Chronicle because it has a front-page article about my cousin Patty, who contracted the Ebola virus. Rain was pouring down; I couldn't even see four feet in front of me when I pulled the Taurus out of the driveway. I only had a few blocks to go, though, so I sped off. At Main and Washington, I turned left, and out of nowhere came a red Ford F150 heading straight for me. I swerved to avoid the truck. Then a pizza delivery van swerved to avoid me and slid smack into the truck. There was this enormous bang, then these awful screams. Glass shards hit my windshield. That crazy truck driver looked like a mad dog foaming at the mouth. I was so scared, I gunned it and sped home. My heart is racing; my ears are ringing. I'm bummed out. No more driving for me on stormy days.

It's impossible not to notice the difference.

What else does an MLS's story need?

A story must also be relevant to the prospect. If you're experienced in the quick service restaurant (QSR) vertical, for example, and are breaking into the healthcare sphere, using stories about how you set up a QSR to offer instant coupons for free coffee to customers who pay with a mobile app will be of negligible interest to someone managing a medical office. This is true no matter how good the stories are or how well they've worked in the past.

Tell those running healthcare offices vivid stories that convey how you can help them dramatically increase the number of patients who pay at the time of service or how you can streamline interactions with insurance companies. You'll get their interest.

Where else can stories work?

Also, stories work well in print and online, too. Once you have some good stories worked into your in-person presentations, write some compelling stories for your website's Home and About pages. Then work some into your sales collateral.

Remember, stories lead to more customer engagement, which ultimately leads to increased sales. end of article

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