Long before my sales career, a marketing genius advised me to share my stories with those I encounter as if we are long-time friends. Years later, a popular public speaking class said the same. The course was during my second month of selling, and I was a nervous wreck. Not permitted training because I was an unwanted female employee, I had to improvise on my own. Magically, the advice worked exceedingly well and still does to this day.
LinkedIn is one of my favorite platforms for connecting with similar-minded businesspeople. The same approach works well when I invite people to join my network. I take a moment to review their profile to see what we may have in common or how we complement one another in our work. Accordingly, my network grows, but the focus isn’t on the numbers; instead, it is on the individuals. In many instances, opportunities arise that would not otherwise be available.
One such contact mirrors my sales strategy as he is a former salesman himself. Upon a congratulatory note about another UCLA basketball championship achievement, a big smile came to me. I have a fond memory of attending a party that also invited Lew Alcindor as a guest. He soon became known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the remarkable basketball player. According to Google, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is an American former professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Back to the story:
The two of us exited the party at the same time for me to experience an unforgettable moment! His car was waiting for him in the front of the driveway. He is perhaps the tallest person I ever met; 7’2”. As I watched him enter the car, I was astonished!
In those days, the front seat was similar to a bench, accommodating both the driver and the passenger(s). To my amazement, he entirely removed the front seat. The gentleman entered his car via the rear door to steer his car from the backseat! After I left the driveway, I was astonished. Afterward, I proceeded to tell everyone I knew about the incident.
Years later, during the dot-com era, I learned about the marketing term, ‘impressions.’ It’s essential to keep track of the number of views, clicks, and click-throughs that articles and advertisements receive.
Similarly, it is our story-sharing that receives impressions, too. As we speak with clientele and communicate with prospects, we do better when we take the time to review if we are making a favorable impression. Time will tell as the future business is either denied or advances. For example, the above story will make an impression on some, and they will potentially share it with others.
In the sales environment, the moment a statement is made the reminds me of an experience, I take a conversational detour. My technique has always been a welcome relief. The story sharing relaxes the conversation, and people enjoy the unusual style. They then reciprocate by sharing their stories. Suddenly, we are almost instantly in a happier and highly energetic mood. All of this influences more decisions on my behalf.
I encourage everyone to give story sharing a try if you aren’t already doing it. If sales can use improvement, you don’t have much to lose, but you have more to gain. Take the challenge to see what happens. You may surprise yourself by adapting the technique and advising others to share their stories.
Getting started with story sharing requires a review of habits. Consider whether you pay strict attention to others when they speak.
- Listen to the words they use
- Catch their emphasis on specific words or thought
- Hear underlying meaning to their words
- Ask for clarification on anything you do not understand
- Watch their body language and facial expressions
All of the above are indicators of what others dislike or find essential. And when listening well, remembrances of incidents will come to mind. It’s not only okay, but an excellent idea to bring the conversation to your experience. Soon the other parties will begin sharing too. The bonus is in making a favorable impression plus developing a returning and referring clientele.