Be a Better Storyteller

Refine your situational sales success stories

Last month, I introduced you to Situational Sales Success Stories (S3 Stories). S3 Stories have three subtle but distinct objectives:  to inform, educate or persuade. We discussed S3 best practices, and this month, we’ll start by covering the barriers to a good S3 story.

Obstacles to Good S3 Stories

Too much detail and attention to accuracy: “Well, you should hear what happened to our customer Sammy Hagar! It was last Thursday … er, no was it Wednesday? No, ok. It was Thursday, and he had come in around 10:30 in the morning. Well, it was really closer to 11:00 …”

It really doesn’t matter what day of the week it was or what time — if it’s not absolutely crucial to the story, no one really cares. Make your point and keep moving.

Too disjointed: “We had a customer who ultimately bought a motorcycle. Well, it was a problem because they didn’t think they could afford it. But now they love it and ride all the time. See, he had filed for bankruptcy over eight years ago and then they got a blue one.”

If in your S3 story you go from the customer buying the bike, to having the problem, to enjoying the bike to solving the problem, your story will appear more confusing than that TV show “Lost.” Try introducing the character (your buyer), their dilemma, how you helped solve it and how they’re now living happily ever after.

Too long: Don’t get long-winded — deliver your message in five to 15 seconds.

Inauthentic: seems corporately vetted or brand-controlled. Customers are on hyper-alert for things that are too packaged.
As an aside, this is why the current trend of posting testimonials on your website, which in the old days (18 months ago) was a great idea, is losing steam.

If customers read nothing but positive reviews and testimonials, they figure that whatever they are reading has been pasteurized by your businesses spin department and find it to be less credible. So, every once in awhile, your stories shouldn’t all be happily ever after.

Delivery Methods

Today, you have so many more ways to tell your S3 Stories than our cave-dwelling predecessors. Of course, you will tell your stories face-to-face in one-on-one situations. But you could also share your stories in larger group settings like dealership riding group meetings.

Many dealerships are using quick videos these days to communicate with customers, and of course email messages are always a winner.

You’ll have to be creative when sharing stories via text messages, but it can be done. And of course, the 140-character challenge of Twitter is good for a hoot. Blogs are great, and Facebook (or whatever replaces it) is cool, and oh yeah, you could use that old-fashioned thing called a phone.

Five Must-Tell Situational Sales Success Stories

1. Customer never rode, you taught them how, and now they’re thrilled.
2. Customer rode another brand, you showed them the light, and they’re now ecstatic.
3. Customer was loyal to one model, you showed them another, they’re now fired up over the new one.
4. Customer couldn’t afford bike, you helped show them how, now they are torch-carrying zealots.
5. Customer wanted to wait, you proved why buying now was good for them, now they are euphoric.

How to Use These Situational Success Stories

Most dealerships are fragmented in their use of success stories. Take the above model, create one great story for each of the five situations above and write them down using some of the guides mentioned earlier.

Make them all able to be shared in less than 25 seconds. Have every salesperson learn these five stories and be able to recite them at the drop of a hat, then monitor the floor so they use them in appropriate sales situations. This way, all of your salespeople will have internalized high quality, effective success stories. This is organizational learning.

How Else Can You Develop Great S3 Stories?

We know now that stories can inform, educate or persuade. We can also use them to describe how we acquired new members to our dealership family, how we engage current members to experience motorcycling with us and how have recovered customers who for whatever reason stopped riding or stopped riding with us.

Experiment with these ideas and develop your own Situational Success Stories. Then you’ll join a long and storied tradition of communicating via storytelling.

And when you use the right story in the right situation, the story you’ll be telling others is how much and how fast you’ve been selling!

An award-winning author, top-rated trainer and founder of Peak Dealership Performance, Mark Rodgers holds a master’s degree in adult education and the National Speakers Association Certified Speaking Professional designation — only 500 people in the world have this coveted recognition. Contact [email protected] to improve your performance.

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