Door Selling by Storytelling

© 2006 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Winter 2006
Author: Scott O’Neill and Tom Wadsworth
Page 80

Door Selling by Storytelling
By Scott O’Neill and Tom Wadsworth

Telling stories isn’t just child’s play. Everyone loves a good story. When selling a garage door, telling a story can make the difference in getting that sale.

“In today’s business world,” says author and marketing strategist Chip Eichelberger, “boring facts and empty stats simply won’t make the impression on customers that a story about someone ‘just like them’ will. True stories are much more compelling and better-remembered than other information.”

The Glory of a Story

Selling by storytelling can be very effective for several reasons.
· Stories command attention.
· Customers can learn quickly from a story.
· Storytelling gains rapport as you share experiences with your customer.
· Stories add relevance and power to your key points.
· Since stories are more conversational, they break down barriers and stereotypes that “all salespeople are out to get you.”

That Reminds Me of a Story …

A good example of selling-by-storytelling was the case of Mary T. She called, asking about garage door ideas. She wasn’t really sure what she wanted, and she asked my advice as to how to get started.

I suggested she come in for a demonstration in our showroom. But with three kids (I could hear one screaming in the background), a job, and a house to maintain, time wasn’t plentiful. So I told her a story:

You remind me of a customer last week who was in the same situation as you. Except in his case, his garage door was hit by a car, and he needed a quick price for insurance purposes.

He had a steel sectional door with no insulation. After he said that he intended to stay in his house long-term, I suggested that he might want to replace the door with something stronger than what his insurance would cover.

He didn’t have a lot of time to spare, so I e-mailed him a virtual brochure that showed him the merits of the better, insulated steel sandwich door. After he reviewed the brochure, he thought it might be worth a quick drive to our showroom to see the differences. After we installed his new door, he was so thankful that he sent me a glowing letter.

Storytelling Rules

In Mary T.’s case, the story worked well. But don’t think that any story will do. You must choose your stories wisely. Here are my “STP” story guidelines.

S. The story must be Short. Leave out details that don’t matter. If you start to lose the customer’s attention, that’s a sign you’re going into too much detail.

T. The story must be True. The customer may ask you several questions about the story. If you’ve fabricated some details, you might get caught in a lie.

P. The story must be Pertinent and closely resemble the customer’s situation. If you tell a story that doesn’t apply, the customer may think you really don’t understand their needs.

Where’s Your Storybook?

If you’ve been in sales for awhile, you already have several stories to tell. One great source of sales stories is a “brag book”—a scrapbook containing photos of work completed and letters of accolades from your clients.

Keep your brag book handy. Behind each photo and each letter is a sales story that can lead to another sale. But don’t overwhelm your customer with too many stories. In my experience, one well-chosen story is all it takes.

The End of the Story

Are you wondering what happened to Mary T.?

Since she showed interest in the letter, I read her that portion of his letter where he raved about how much my advice helped him make a good long-term choice.

She asked me if he paid more for the garage door … beyond the insurance coverage. (You see … she wanted to know how the story ended.)

I then read her the last line of his letter: “… and I even spent another $500 beyond what the insurance would cover, yet I would have spent $1,000 for the difference in its performance – thank you, thank you!”

Her next question was, “How can I get that better door ordered today?”

And now, her story is a new addition to my storybook. Nice story, huh?

Scott O’Neill has been in the garage door business since 1986 and a sales manager since 1992 at Madden Door, Martinez, Calif.