Story time. Something about those words evokes nostalgia. Maybe it’s the carpet that we sat on as young school kids, and listened as the teacher magically read the words without looking, showing us the pictures that opened our minds to a whole new world of wonder at the turn of every page. (If you’re lucky, it was learning about the adventures of Dick, Jane and Spot!) Maybe it’s fond memories of listening to grandparents describe how life was different when they were young. Maybe it was one of our first memories of bedtime when we got to choose our favorite story or learn about superheroes. Whatever it is, stories are a culmination of life, and love, emotions, events, happiness, joy and all the things that ultimately become words on paper to create the stories in and of our lives.
In business, stories have powerful meaning that can make an impact on lead generation and closed deals. On the front end, consumers spend their valuable time searching for reputable and trusted companies to invite into their home, oftentimes making a decision based on a company story that resonates and feels authentic. When they read feel-good words like: “family owned and operated”, “in business for over x amount of years”, “where we treat customers like family”, “we make our customers a priority”, etc., it introduces who the company is, for a seamless transition into why they should consider the company. Because we know that sales are primarily an emotional exchange, telling a story that draws people in, creates a call to action and encourages them to want to learn and do more.
There is a saying in sales, “facts tell, stories sell” that highlights the importance of how valuable stories truly are in the sales process. Consumers are hearing, what we will call facts, from every salesperson they encounter. Trained salespeople go in fully armed and prepared to share about the efficacy of their products, warranties and guarantees, and all of the why’s that make them the most likable main character and best choice. But let’s face it, while facts are important, they can also be boring, and in some cases become mundane if there are multiple companies talking about them to the same prospect.
The goal as a salesperson is to ultimately put the consumer at ease, and build a relationship of trust in the short period of time they have. Making meaningful connections with customers who will ultimately become friends during the sales process, is crucial to closing the deal. Being prepared for every opportunity to learn about prospects through listening, and then sharing relative stories, is an effective way of gaining trust, establishing credibility and creating a lasting friendship.
PK, (product knowledge) is indeed imperative in sales. But of equal and significant importance, is fully grasping and understanding the other PK, (people knowledge). Knowing what elicits emotional responses, and authentically engaging with consumers to understand and speak to them, helps to make lasting impressions and build trust. The “facts tell, stories sell” formula is a great reminder that interlacing details and emotion is what ultimately provides a happy ending.