May 28, 2013 4:53 pm

In sales, nothing succeeds quite like success stories. Are you sharing yours? If you’re not, think about what you could achieve if you did.

The secret is in how you share your successes.

Learn to tell 30-second “success stories.” We call them “elevator stories” (because you can tell the whole story to someone you meet in the elevator).

During sales calls a quick-hitting story can make or reinforce a point memorably.  Elevator stories can be told in response to a question, or as a testimonial, or just as an aside. We know stories work for several reasons: our brains are hardwired to respond to stories.  As children, we learn through stories.  At night we dream in stories.  We respond to drama, to emotion, to protagonists who succeed against the odds and to mysteries and twists. Stories are more memorable than cold numbers, names and dates. Listeners can often relate to him or herself in the story, especially if the story is based on a universal theme. A good story will resonate with prospects and can stick in the brain for years.

Look at your sales history and pick out an accomplishment. Now tell the story behind the accomplishment.  Sure, you helped a client increase their revenue by 60%. But tell the story of how you did it; cite a “before vs. after” description. What was the secret? Stories that reveal secrets captivate.

“But I’m useless at making things up”, many of our clients tell us. “I’ve got no imagination.”  We understand.  However storytelling is something we can all learn.  There are processes and tools to help you.  If you’re not confident about the whole process then consider a storytelling course.   Here is an example:

“We recently received a call from a client unhappy with their current security software supplier. They were paying high fees, receiving poor service and experiencing frequent security breaches. Within a few days we were able to launch a wireless processing system that was more secure, more reliable and even reduced costs by 20%.  Their security breaches fell to zero. We also customised it to roll-out internationally as well as domestically, which is a particular strength of ours.”

Not only does this elevator story demonstrate an organization’s ability to solve problems, it showcases an understanding of business, markets and methods.

Stories can demonstrate your client service ability, strategic skills, creativity, international reach, pro-activity or any other strength that your clients see as a benefit. Read here for more information.

Consider this story for a job-seeker:

Here is an example of how one candidate summarized his most recent employment for a competitor

“In my last job I was hired to manage a production department at war with the editorial department. I walked into an environment full of distrust and resentment, built up over years of animosities and recriminations. I implemented cross-training between departments, combined social events like picnics and project post-mortems.  As a result, we were able, after 6 months, to convert resentment into understanding and competition into cooperation. As each department began to understand how the other one worked we were jointly able to improve the workflow and consequently shorten lead times.  Even quality improved as we better understood how to work together. That showed me the importance of internal communication and how hard it can be, though not impossible, to change an
existing culture.”

Not only does this elevator story demonstrate the candidate’s ability to solve problems, but it shows interviewers the candidate’s understanding of inter-office politics and the human side of operations.

What stories can you tell for sales success?