3 Ways to Use Storytelling After the Sale

{#23 in a series of the 25 most useful sales stories}

Just because you’ve closed the sale doesn’t mean the need for storytelling has ended. In fact, the best salespeople continue to use storytelling after the sale in three primary ways:

    1. to deliver service after the sale,
    2. to generate loyalty, and
    3. to summarize learnings from the sales call.

In this episode, we’ll talk about the first of those ways — to deliver better service after the sale. We’ll tackle the other two in future articles.

Depending on the type of product or service you have, a lot of times storytelling can help your existing customers make better decisions about how to use what they’ve already bought from you. And it’s obviously in your best interest to help them do that so they can become the most satisfied customers they can be.

Here are two examples from a company called Backroads, an active travel company that’s part travel agent, part Sherpa guide. 

Example 1

So, let’s say a typical trip with Backroads is six nights and five days. Each of those days might include three primary options for each person to pick from that they’ll choose over breakfast each morning. What decision people make can have an enormous impact on how much they enjoy the day. For example, on a biking day, if a novice biker chooses the longest, most difficult bike route, they’ll be overwhelmed, late, and exhausted when they get back. And if an experienced biker chooses the easiest path, they won’t be challenged enough.

So, getting people to make the best decision is critical. The truth is, by the third day, the Backroads leaders know their guests well enough to tell them which option is best for them. But it would be insulting to say to a guest, “Bob, you’re a slow rider, so you should take option #1 today.” The Backroads leaders need to help guests make that decision for themselves, but make it in the most informed manner possible. And that’s where storytelling comes in. 

Let’s say our slow rider, Bob, has his heart set on taking the longest bike route today. The leader might share a story about a similar guest last week who made the same choice:

Last week, Sally picked the same route. But she knew it was going to be a long ride for her. So she got up an hour early, skipped breakfast, and headed out a couple of hours ahead of everyone else. We drove ahead and met her at the 15-mile mark and had a muffin and yogurt waiting for her. By 11 a.m., she was already over the mountain pass and had the rest of the day to make the easy part of the ride.” 

That short little story about Sally now helps Bob make a more informed decision about today’s ride. He might choose to pick another option, or he can do what Sally did and leave early. Either way, he’ll feel better about the experience than being told, “Okay, but you’ll need to leave earlier than everyone else because you’re slow.” That statement tells the guest what to do. The story empowers him to make a better decision for himself. 

Example 2

Storytelling can also help the trip leaders emphasize their flexibility by providing a concrete example. According to Jo Zulaica, global leadership development manager at Backroads, they might say something like this:

Last week, we had a guest who was really interested in golfing and fishing even though that wasn’t part of this trip. So on the layover days, he found a local operator who could take him fly fishing. And on a couple of other days, we set up a tee time for him at the nearest golf course. We even drove him to the course right after breakfast to get started.” 

Compare that short story to the non-story alternatives of just saying, “Hey, we set up a tee time for a guy last week who really loved golf,” or the even less helpful, “Hey, anything you want to do, we can make it happen.” The story is not only more interesting but gives the guest a concrete idea of how flexible “flexible” really is.

Conclusion

If all you give people is a platitude, they don’t really know what to do with it. Jo calls these “what’s worked well in the past” stories. If you want to help your customers, in any industry, get the most use out of whatever it is you’re selling, you need some of your own “what’s worked well in the past” stories. 

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Source: Sell with a Story: How to Capture Attention, Build Trust, and Close the Sale, by Paul Smith.

Paul Smith is one of the world’s leading experts on business storytelling. He’s a keynote speaker, storytelling coach, and bestselling author.

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