I took a part time job a couple of years ago doing something I’ve never done before. Sales. Belly-to-belly sales, to be more specific. Quite a departure getting paid to look the consuming public in the eye and pitch.
“Story” had always been an important part of my marketing life but in this new position, after product knowledge, it became a very close second in terms of my sales effectiveness.
There are two basic kind of stories a salesperson can tell: product-based stories focusing on features, functions and outcomes and entertaining stories tangential to the product. Everyone needs the first to move the merch, but for me the entertaining, humanizing stories were the difference maker. They kept me on my toes and helped engage consumers.
The last two days I was working side-by-side at a trade show with our territory’s best sales person. He is brilliant with customers, performing straight from the sale manual and beyond. At his best he’s jovial, informative, a locomotive of product fact. His stories are all about product. I, on the other hand, used personal stories to pepper my sales. Some self-deprecating, some shared interest, some environmental – the whole gamut.
Turns out, mixing in some entertainment with sales haymakers was a winning combination. Not everyone is an entertainer. I’m no Sebastian Maniscalco. As Jimmy Breslin taught us, the best way to tell the news is to get out of the building. In sales, the best way to sell product is to get out of the building…and the building is the product.