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Like lightning, one story revived sales by 135%


Guest articles > Like lightning, one story revived sales by 135%


by: Michael Harris


As I watched my son’s soccer game in the rain, the clouds grew dark, and thunder quickly followed.

“If there’s lightning, we’re in a bad place ” warned the CEO of Colgate. “But we’re right next to a tall light-post” I countered. “Yes” said Scott “ but it needs to be grounded, otherwise lightning can travel horizontally, and then… we’re toast.”

Oh please, I lamented, not another overly cautious warning. As Scott droned on about the dangers of lightning, I drifted away, and thought that Scott may know a lot about toothpaste, but meteorology… I don’t think so.

And then he told a story, and everything changed.

He recounted how he, three friends, and four caddies were playing golf in Columbia. Like today, there was rain, but it was the lightning that forced them to seek refuge inside a nearby kiosk. Inside, one of the caddies sat down on a metal box full of ice cold drinks, and sipped a Coca-Cola. When suddenly, lightning struck a tree 20-yards away. It then traveled horizontally, and hit the metal box.

“Oh no, was the boy OK?” I asked. “No” Scott said “he died.”

“That’s terrible, did you see it happen?” Scott looked down at the ground, paused, and then slowly responded in a quiet voice “Yes, and he was just a child.”

After a couple of minutes of watching the game, Scott then explained the dangers of lightning, and this time I actually listened.

In fact, I’ll never forget this story, and the poor boy that died. I’ll also always remember that lightning can travel horizontally.

Do your customers remember your sales message?

Or do they discount it like I discounted Scott’s warning?

What would happen if your salespeople took your sales message, and then wrapped it up into a story?

Could it have the same powerful effect as Scott’s story had on me?

Would Sales increase sales by 135%?

That’s what happened in a study of consumer take-up of cable in 1982 (source).

One group of the homeowners, for example, were presented with information about why cable might be worthwhile. The other group were asked to imagine themselves in a detailed scenario… to figuratively take the cable offering out for a virtual test drive.

Those that just got the information subscribed at a rate of only 20%; however, those that imagined themselves subscribing, subscribed at a rate of 47%- that’s a 135% increase!

Would your next Sales Conference be the best ever?

Imagine your next sales conference. Instead of death by power point, you instead used a story format to deliver your message?

Would it be the best sales conference ever? Could it almost be as interesting as a Ted Conference?

Well, that was the case with Virtusa. In 2012, they used a narrative format to deliver their sales conference. The result, according to Joe Walsh, VP of Sales, was that it turned out to be “the best sales conference in his 30-year career.” (Click for video).


Learn how your customers can take your offering out for a virtual test drive with our 6-Step Business Storytelling Guide. The guide is designed to improve your sales message so that more of your customers are able to step out of the status quo, take action, and invest through you into a better tomorrow.

Contributor: Michael Harris

Published here on: 08-Jul-12

Classification: Sales


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