Drive the sales process forward. Tell the story behind the products you sell.
By Kindra Hall
I was in a bit of a bind.
It was my dear friend’s thirty-third birthday party and even though the invitation said, “No gifts,” showing up empty handed just seemed tacky. Desperate to bring something, I scoured my kitchen cabinets for a forgotten bottle of wine or unused cheese board. Anything that could pass as a thoughtful gift for a friend I loved.
Turns out, there aren’t many “thoughtful gifts” hiding in the depths of my kitchen cabinets. So with 10 minutes to spare, I headed to a local gift shop that was getting rave reviews. And after only 30 seconds in the store, I understood why.
Sarah, the shop owner, greeted me at the door. I explained I was looking for a small gift for a dear friend and she immediately whisked me to a back corner of the shop.
“These candles are a great gift,” she said. “They were made by two best friends who grew up going to Coronado Island in the summers. Each scent is inspired by different memories from their childhood on the beach.”
“Or!” Sarah pointed to some funky metal clocks of all different sizes on the wall. “Growing up, this artist’s job was to clean out his father’s mechanic shop. He was fascinated by the beauty of the twisted pieces of metal.”
“Or!” And before I knew it, Sarah was off to another item. When I originally thought I was going to struggle to simply find a gift, now I couldn’t decide which one!
SHOPPING FOR THE PERFECT STORY
What Sarah did that night, whether she knew it or not, was genius. Sarah tapped into an extremely powerful sales strategy that many overlook – the power of a story. She wasn’t just showing me different items available for purchase, she was telling me different stories.
Here’s the thing; when I was shopping for a gift, I wasn’t looking for the perfect thing, I was actually looking for the best story. When my friend opened the gift, what story would I tell her so she knew she was important to me? What story would I tell so every time she looked at that item she thought of our friendship? What story would I tell her so she could tell others?
You are not in the business of functional sales. Your customers aren’t in your store looking for food, shelter, extension cords or toilet paper. They are making an emotional purchase – to create a memory or find a symbol of one. When it comes to emotional purchases, you must connect with your customers on an emotional level and the fastest, easiest, most effective way to do that is through story.
WHAT’S THE STORY?
There are several different ways you can approach this. One approach is like Sarah. She had a personal connection to most, if not all, of her inventory. She knew the artist, she read up on the creator, she was connected to the manufacturer. She could tell the stories of each of the individual items because she knew them. She sought them. This is a great strategy. If ever possible, get the story from the person who made the item so you can re-tell it to your interested customer. This approach will fast-track your way to their emotions.
If you do not have the luxury of knowing the creator’s story, then tell yours. When did you find this item? What did you love about it? What caught your eye? How did you feel when you unpacked the box and put the pieces on the shelf? Who did you imagine would purchase it and what would they do with it? Remember, these stories are meant to connect on an emotional level. Don’t hide your passion, excitement, or hope for these items.
STORIES FOR SALE
I arrived (a little late) at my dear friend’s thirty-third birthday party and handed her a small box with a bow. She opened the package and pulled out the most amazing candle either of us had ever smelled.
“So this candle was made by two best friends and smells like their memories of going to the beach each summer,” I told her. “I thought you might like it on the days you want a vacation… and hopefully think of me there with you.”
She hugged me and thanked me and asked where I found this incredible gift. Soon a crowd began to form and I heard my friend re-tell the story of the candle-making best friends and about Sarah’s store that sold gifts better than a scrounged up bottle of old wine.
I smiled. Not only because my gift was a hit, but because Sarah’s story continued to sell long after her customer left the shop. And I have no doubt her business will continue to thrive because of it.
Kindra Hall is a professional Speaker and Story Telling Consultant. With over 20 years of experience, Kindra captivates audiences with her engaging style and actionable content. Kindra works with speakers, entrepreneurs, and business owners to find, craft and perfect their personal stories for maximum results. Find her at www.kindrahall.com.