Tag Archive for 'Storytelling'

The gold mining tool of professional salespeople

A few decades ago a 27-year-old, shiny, new Xerox sales representative was minted.

Already a sales veteran, it wasn’t his first rodeo. Indeed, he worked his way through college selling on commission.

Commissioned salespeople, like entrepreneurs, work the marketplace high wire. Observing this act, a salaried employee once remarked that commission selling was “living by your wits.” In the vernacular, business-to-business sales professionals know, “You eat what you kill.”

Starting out this salesman received rubber-meets-the-road sales training from the small business owner who gave him his first commissioned sales job. Then there was a six-year stint with Sears, where he first received sophisticated sales training.

But in those days, Xerox Professional Selling Skills was recognized globally across all industries as the sales training gold standard. Consequently, becoming a Xerox salesperson wasn’t easy and, once achieved, was a big deal at that career moment and an invaluable influence for the rest of your life.

Not long out of the Xerox classroom, our young salesman called on the local installation of a national manufacturing firm. His head was packed with product, pricing and strategy. Plus, he was now a fully converted, Kool-Aid-drinking disciple of the world-class Xerox sales fundamentals. And so it was that on this particular day, sitting in the office of Mr. Keener, the plant accountant, any listening skills and probing techniques he had learned were no match for the cargo of content that was determined to be dumped right there on Mr. Keener’s desk.

Mr. K was a tall, stern and stoic journeyman manager whose gray hair was not premature. He suffered no fools - gladly or otherwise - and took no prisoners. But for longer than most would have expected he allowed himself to be the victim of what was no less than a sales assault. Finally, he stood up and stretched his arm toward the Xeroid in front of him as a way to move the proceedings toward the door, whereupon he demonstrated his rapier wit with, “Well, Jim, you’ve certainly given me the business.”

Now you know, I was that sales assaulter. And my memory includes standing outside Mr. Keener’s office with his words detonating in my brain. In a career-defining moment of self-analysis and clarity I turned and knocked on Mr. K’s door again. Assuming my most contrite and chastened countenance I said, “Mr. Keener, I’m sorry about what just happened. May I please start over?”

To which he said, “Hello, Jim - come in and let’s talk about business.”

Those two sentences - one to haul me up short and one to redeem me - are the ones I remember more often than thousands of selling interactions since. By the way, Mr. K and I did business for years afterwards.

Write this on a rock … The gold mining power tool of successful professional salespeople is the ear, not the mouth.

A mistake’s value depends upon lesson learned

Mistakes are worth contemplating, and yet we often don’t.  The reason, I think, is because it hurts a little to focus on them.  It’s not fun to see ourselves that way.  Mistakes are definitely not ego food.

But there is something very important to remember about mistakes: not focusing on them can ultimately be more painful.  

In Tom Feltenstein’s inspiring book, Uncommon Wisdom, I found this quote from Michel de Montaigne,” Those things are dearest to us that have cost us the most.”  Think he’s talking about mistakes?  I do.  Do you think of your mistakes as dear?

If you don’t contemplate your mistakes and learn from them, you are subjecting yourself to double jeopardy. Because today you will not only make the new mistakes we are all destined to make as we go through life, but you are also doomed to repeat the old ones you should have learned from yesterday.

Whether your mistakes are valuable or expensive depends on whether you contemplate and learn from them, or deny and keep on paying for them.  I think paying for a mistake once is dear enough, don’t you?

Entrepreneurs: Keep climbing toward success

In a former life, whenever I felt deficient in my ability to meet a particular challenge, one of my mentors would say to me, “This is no hill for a climber,” followed immediately by, “and you’re a climber.”
Today, whenever I’m feeling deficient in my ability to meet the challenges of my small business, I say these words to myself, “This is no hill for a climber and I’m a climber.”
In an even earlier life, growing up on a farm, we had an old two-ton Studebaker truck. This was a brute of a truck, with a very special feature: one really low gear. My dad called that gear “grandma.”
Whenever we had a heavy load to haul and a steep grade to climb, Dad would say, “Put it in grandma.” In “grandma” that old truck wouldn’t go more than a couple of miles an hour, but it would pull or haul anything, anywhere. Even when the pulling got really tough that truck might jerk and buck, but it never stopped pulling.


Small business owners have a special gear similar to the one on that truck. Our “grandma” gear is made up of the cogs of grit and determination, and the sprockets of courage and passion.

Video - Use the power of storytelling to grow your business

In this week’s video I talk about using the power of storytelling to grow your business.

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

Use the power of storytelling to grow your business

Cogito ergo sum. French philosopher Rene Descartes proposed this idea in 1637, which translates to “I think, therefore I am.” Certainly the power of abstract thought is what separates humans from other animals.

Anthropologists now believe Homo sapiens succeeded, unlike other members of the genus Homo, Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon for example, because our brains had a greater capacity for speech and language. Today Descartes might have modified his philosophy to “I think and speak, therefore I am.”

In “Wealth of Nations,” Adam Smith proposed the written word as one of the three great human inventions. But long before humans were writing we were telling stories. And these stories – told, memorized and retold over millennia – became the headwaters of human development. We humans love to tell stories almost as much as we love to listen to them.

Another thing that’s older than writing is the marketplace. Long before Madison Avenue ad copy, merchants were verbalizing the value and benefits of their wares. Surely early business storytelling was the origin of modern selling skills.

In 1965, Intel’s co-founder Gordon Moore made an observation that became Moore’s Law: “Computer processing power doubles every two years.” But in his 1982 watershed book “Megatrends,” futurist John Naisbitt posed this paradoxical prophecy: “The more high tech we create, the more high touch we will want.”

So what does all of this mean? It means that in a time of rapidly compounding technology generations, the most successful businesses will consistently deliver high touch to customers with one of our oldest traits – the telling of a story. Here is Blasingame’s Three Cs of Business Storytelling:

Connect – Use stories to connect with prospects and convert them into customers.

Convey – Use stories to convey your expertise, relevance, humanity and values.

Create – Use stories to create customer memories that compel them to come back.

Storytelling is humanity in words. And since small businesses are the face and voice of humanity in the marketplace, we have a great advantage in the Age of the Customer. No market sector can execute the Three Cs of Business Storytelling to evoke powerful human feelings more than small businesses.

And regardless of how they’re delivered, stories don’t have to be long. I just told you five different ones in the first half of this article.

The Holy Grail of storytelling is when someone else tells your business’s story to others.

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On The Small Business Advocate® Show I recently talked about growing your small business with the power of storytelling. My segment dives deeper into the topic of maximizing the growth of your business. Click the link below to listen.

Grow your business with the power of storytelling - with Jim Blasingame

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!




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