TELL A COMPELLING STORY
Let Your Story Make Your Point
Here’s an example of how a simple
story can make a great point.
In 1990, I walked into a clothing
store looking for a new pair of pants. I was wearing new
sneakers I had just purchased from another store. I was
standing by a display of pants when a salesman came up
to me and asked, “Can I help you?” I gave the standard
response, “No thanks, I’m just looking.” He replied,
“Well, if you see anything you like, let me know,” and
off to other business he went.
I selected two pairs of pants
that looked identical in every way except for the price.
I now found myself needing help. I looked around the
store and spotted the salesman who had offered to help.
He was standing near the back of the store with another
salesman, and I was the only customer in the place.
I caught the salesman’s eye and
beckoned him over with a wave of my finger. He looked at
me with a scowl and held up his finger as if to indicate
that I was interrupting him, and I was to wait until he
had time for me. Now, had he been helping another
customer, I would have understood. Had he smiled and
gestured with some measure of friendliness, I would have
been satisfied as well. Instead, his posture was
completely negative and he was displaying irritation
that I would dare bother him while he’s in conversation
with another salesman. I felt his manner was not
appropriate, so I left the store without buying either
pair of pants.
I walked into a second store, and
while I was looking at a pair of pants, a young sales
lady approached me and asked, “Can I help you?” Again, I
responded with the obligatory, “No thanks, I’m just
looking.” She replied, “Well, if you see anything you
like, just let me know,” and then walked back to the
I found a pair of pants I liked
and tried them on. They fit well and I was ready to make
my purchase. I stepped up to the cash register, placed
the pants on the counter and pulled out my wallet. Now,
in the world of professional sales, we refer to that as
a “buying signal.”
It seems that our young sales
lady went to a different sales school than I did,
because she just sat there speaking on the phone and
ignored me. Once again, had she been speaking with
another customer, I would have understood. But, I don’t
think it was another customer, because she was arguing
with the person about where they were going to have
dinner that night.
I waited for a reasonable amount
of time, but, since she didn’t seem to want to help me
any time soon, I put my wallet back in my pocket and
walked out of the store.
I walked into a third store. I
was standing by a display of pants when another young
sales lady walked up to me. I was bracing myself for the
usual, “Can I help you?” and was ready to blurt out, “No
thanks, I’m just looking.”
Instead, her words caught me off
guard, because she began with, “My guess is that you’re
about a size 32, is that about right?” It was about
right, so I confirmed it. She continued with, “Are you
looking at something for work or for leisure?” and I
told her I was playing in a band and that I needed
something for the stage. She asked what instrument I
played, whether I sit, stand or move around a lot on
stage, and about the lights and temperature during the
show, and a lot of other questions.
Once I had given her all the
answers, she smiled and said, “Come with me.” Now, it’s
a rare occasion that a pretty young lady looks at me,
smiles and says, “Come with me,” so I eagerly complied!
She walked me over to a display
of pants, grabbed a pair off the bottom of the pile and
held them out for me.
As I extended my hand and took
hold of the pants, she didn’t let go of her hold on them
right away. Instead, she opened the change room door
with her other hand and using her hold on the pants,
gently tugged me in the direction of the change room. As
I entered the change room she said, “Make sure I see
them on you before you make a decision.”
I slipped the pants on, and then
walked out of the change room so she could see how they
fit on me, as she had asked me to do. When I stepped out
of the change room, I could see that she had another
pair of pants in her right hand, and in her left hand,
she held a green shirt on a hanger.
She asked me how the pants fit
and I said they were a little snug at the waist. She
answered, “I thought they might be. Here, try these on.”
And she handed me the other pair of pants she had
brought. She didn’t mention anything about the green
shirt she was holding, and I didn’t ask about it either.
As I entered the change room for the second time, she
again instructed me, “Make sure you let me see them on
you before you make a final decision.”
I tried on the second pair of
pants and they fit just great. As she had instructed me,
I stepped out of the change room to get her opinion. She
looked at the pants, asked me some questions and gave
her expert approval. These were the pants I should buy.
Then, a perplexed look came over
her face. She looked at me with deep concern and went on
with, “You know it would really be a shame.”
“What would be a shame?” I asked.
She replied, “It would be a shame
for you to be the best dressed guy in the room from the
waist down, but to be another one of the crowd from the
waist up.” And with those words, she stretched out her
hand holding that green shirt. Mechanically, I reached
out and grasped the shirt as she ushered me back into
the change room.
I left that store having spent
twice as much as I had intended to, and I was happy
about it, all because that young sales professional knew
the meaning and value of exceptional customer service.
I included that story here to
demonstrate how the simplest of stories can make a
So, what’s the lesson? Don’t just
share the lessons found in your stories, share the
stories and bring the lessons to life.