Sales Through Storytelling
Sales Through Storytelling: Story Tell, Story Sell!
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.
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
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
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
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:
• Your conversion of old equipment into new uses shows you can think outside the
box and are resourceful.
• The non-monetary ways you recognized your staff shows your creativity,
abilities as a leader as you demonstrate your understanding of how to motivate
• The weekly internal E-letter you created for employees not only boosted
morale, it gave evidence of your strong communication skills.
• The canned food drive you initiated at your last job not only showed your
commitment to your community, it also raised visibility for the company and
improved their public relations.
• By forming a lunchtime jogging club you helped bring employees from different
departments together while improving the health, and mental health, of employees
who participated. Your leadership and team building skills were further
evidenced when your runners club formed a Centipede in the recent Bay to
• Your multilingual skills helped aright a project suffering from
miscommunication between subsidiaries from overseas. Not only could you
translate phrases and idioms of speech, your insight into cultural differences
bridged a gap and corrected a wayward project. More than showcasing your
knowledge of languages, you demonstrated the ability to liaison between
different groups, negotiate and turn an important project around.
Here are a few examples:
• Your analysis of existing processing statements and identification of cost
• Your experience with a variety of systems and payment methods: credit, debit,
phone and gift cards, etc.
• Your skill in designing billing systems that cross borders and time zones and
Best yet, this Story Tell, Story Sell method works for sales, management,
consultants, meeting planners, solopreneurs and even politicians. I know, I've
Review your past work history and identify the stories within each
accomplishment. Now tell them to others. Don’t forget the moral to your story:
the point the story tells about you (and your firm), your skills and credits.
And remember, yours is a never-ending story!
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