Guest Post by Kyle O’Brien
Great storytelling is the ace-in-the-hole for sales.
Yet some salespeople forgo the storyteller approach because of time constraints, when in reality, they’re missing out on one of the best ways to connect their product to a customer. When you think about it, why do we love great storytellers so much? It’s not because they have an awesome “movie-trailer-guy” voice; it’s because they make us feel something for the story. We live in it. We see it. And we bond to it.
Let me tell you a story of the first, great storyteller salesperson I encountered. It was around the holidays. I was in college and went with my roommate to the mall to finish up our shopping lists for our parents. My roommate always did the same dance for his mom: buy a bottle of Chanel No.5 perfume. He was the easy buyer. Very little indecision.
Anyway, while he was asking for the perfume, I told him I was going to go around and do some window shopping. I stumbled over to the Men’s cologne section. I looked over a few samples on the glass when the salesman came over to greet me. He asked if I was buying for anyone in particular and I said, “No.” I told him I was just tagging along and was really only passing through on my way to get a belt and some socks for my father (standard protocol for kids on what to buy their parents). He nodded in agreement and said, “Is your dad a big cologne person?”
I laughed and said how I could never tell if he was big into cologne because his brand smelled a bit like that stench that comes up from wet grass clippings. I made a point to tell him that he probably used the same brand for the last 10 years (heck, it might’ve just been that one bottle for all I know). I rattled off the brand and asked if it was popular.
He knew about it. Said it wasn’t really an old cologne, nor was it really new. It was somewhere in the middle. As for being popular, he gave it mixed reviews. He’d never personally wear it, and agreed the scent was a bit much.
He then went on to talk about an old cologne that his father used to wear all the time. He remembers the first time he looked over his father’s cologne selection laid atop his dresser. He talked about how he began to memorize when it was “Mom & Dad Date Night” based off of how awful the bathroom hallway smelled from the cologne.
I asked him what he’d compare that cologne to. He didn’t hesitate: It smelled like Deep Woods DEET spray. But he said it was worth it because he knew what that fragrance meant. That it meant family. That it meant his father going over the same routine to get ready and spend time with his loving wife.
But he said routines can be tweaked, too. His father eventually moved on to a new brand just because. It wasn’t because of complaints from his son or his wife, he just did one day.
I smiled and looked at the samples in my hand. I asked which of these he liked, or would at least be a step above that old cologne my father swore by. He picked out three of the samples. Sprayed each on a piece of paper and gave me an extra backup sample to take home. He told me to either keep them for myself, or give the samples to my father and get his take.
But I went one step further. I went with my gut and bought a cologne gift package off of the first sample. The salesman wasn’t pressuring me to buy on a whim. He packaged the deal long before that with the story and the peace offering of the samples. He did his part and knew in one way or another, there’s a good chance I might be back to his store to buy the cologne.
The whole thing took less than 10 minutes and best of all, it felt organic. It wasn’t forced. He saw an opportunity to not only listen to my “need” (because I didn’t exactly have one), but provide a similar tale that only enhanced his products further.
Storytelling is something every salesperson needs in their arsenal. It’s one of the best skills to acquire, nurture and execute on the floor. Because at the end of the day, the sale is there. The customer just needs to be nudged properly to see it. And who doesn’t love a good story?
What’s the best storytelling sale you’ve encountered through the years? Let me know in the comments!
Kyle is the Community Manager for an e-learning company, ej4, and has written many articles concerning daily workplace struggles, how to improve one’s leadership abilities and how to motivate employees the right way. Follow them on Google + for more.