Thursday, February 7, 2008


We live in an information age. We have more facts and data available to us through printed material, TV and especially the internet than ever before! We even hear the term "information overload" from time-to-time. So this provides us an opportunity to be storytellers instead of salespeople (information givers).

Jeffrey Gitomer often says, "People love to buy, but they hate to be sold." He and all the other sales professionals suggest that we create a buying "atmosphere", and not just offer a sales pitch. One of the most effective ways I found to do this is with storytelling.

While we live in an information age, we also live in a conceptual age. Too often we focus on the information side (left-side of the brain) and we don't focus enough on the conceptual side (right-side of the brain). Remember! Most healthy people use both sides of their noggin! With all the "information" available to us, the left side of the brain gets a workout, but the right side is left wanting.

While facts and data are important, we need to remember that we are all born storytellers and storylisteners. We all looked forward to show-and-tell when we were kids and we all spent time on the playground exchanging stories. But somewhere along the line, "story" became synonymous with fiction or even falsehood. So most salespeople shy away from them and focus on the facts. Bad move!

So what can we do with good stories? Let's give an example:

You walk into a salon with a display case of shears. You open it and the stylists are checking them out while you're sharpening. When you finish, you return the sharpened shears to your customers and ask if anyone has any questions about your samples. You hear, "Tell me about your shears."

You can respond with all the "facts" like 440 Stainless, 59 rockwell, ball bearing assembly, different metal mixes and watch your customers eyes glaze over. Or you can start telling stories about the ones you've sold. Like that customer that called just to tell you that she is so proud of her new shears and the way they make her feel when she cuts. The edge seems to last forever, they are super smooth and her hands don't hurt anymore when she goes home at night.

Which do you think will make a better impression? The facts or the story? The Story! The facts are good, and they can and should be woven into the story, but they shouldn't be the focus.

This is called "narrative imaging" and it helps to feed both sides of the brain. The left-side will pick up on the facts and the right-side will apply the mental images of those facts to the story. So be a story collector and a storyteller. Don't worry if you've never sold a shear before in your life! If this is your first time selling a shear, there's nothing wrong with telling your customer a story based on the "facts" you know about that shear and how you believe it will help them.

Bar none, the best book I've found on the subject of storytelling and how it relates to sales and marketing is Seth Godin's book, All Marketers are Liars. If this is a method you think you'd like to use in your sales, pick up a copy at Amazon, your local library or your local bookstore. It is well worth the investment and will give you much more detail than I can give in a post like this.


No comments:

Post a Comment