Doug Robinson: Great Salespeople Aren’t Born…They’re Good Storytellers

Doug Robinson

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

When your employees sell your products and services, do they jump into a presentation of nuts and bolts to explain how it works, or do they tell success stories?  

Do you remember how Steve Jobs, as CEO of Apple, personally launched every new product from center stage? He wasn’t just a speaker; he was a showman who spent days, and sometimes weeks planning every word and gesture in order to leave his audience spellbound. He had the ability to get people to visualize using his products, and we all do in every increasing numbers each year. It’s simple; the best story tellers make the best salespeople. 

Learning to tell short success stories will memorably reinforce your position and boost your sales quicker than anything else you might include. You can share success stories in response to questions, disclose them in place of testimonials, or simply impart them as a freestanding sidebar conversation. When you tell stories this way, more often than not your customers will align with what you are selling.

Stories work for several reasons. They're more memorable than names and statistics; 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.  Good stories resonate with prospects.

Look at your sales history and pick out an accomplishment, then tell the story behind that success. Sure, it reveals that you helped another client increase sales xx%.  But telling how you did it, with before vs. after descriptions of how it went down; that’s what will really captivate your prospect.

As an example, consider my training and consulting business. Most folks in my line of work would try to sell their services like this: “I’d like to put my 40 years experience with sales and customer service people to work for your company, in order to help solve the productivity issues that have been keeping you up at night.”  

That’s OK, but by telling an actual success story from another client, you will take your game up a notch and improve your chances of securing this customer. It might sound like this: “Last fall I was contacted by the owner of a service industry franchise. He was really struggling with productivity problems among his salespeople, pretty much like you. I suggested a once-a-week 30 minute coaching session with his team, using a Google+ video call, along with segments of  HYPERLINK "" my book as weekly lesson plans. Not long afterward, three of his fellow franchise owners from different states also joined the group. Six months later three of the four franchises have skyrocketed into the top ten in sales among the sixty franchises that company has nationwide! By using this venue, a lot of synergy was generated because the reps were able to interact through audio and video and a perfect storm was created. That success stirred so much interest that I was contacted by the president of the franchise owners association, who invited me to come speak at their annual meeting next month. That’s going to be exciting! I believe we can re-create that kind of electricity among your teams.”   

As you can see from this example, stories can demonstrate your professionalism, creativity, customer service passion, problem-solving abilities and other strengths.  Not only do success stories demonstrate your ability to solve problems, they also show your ability and desire to go the extra mile to truly meet buyers’ needs and desires.

So take a trip down memory lane and scroll back through your past sales victories and start telling those stories, where appropriate, to convince folks they should be your customer. I can assure you they will respond more positively to your storytelling than to yada-yada data dumps that most salespeople inflict on their prospects. 

If you would like to hear some of my stories and learn some strategies that will improve the sales results of your team, you can preview my book, Sell is NOT a Four Letter Word, right here.