Pat Henneberry is vice president of global learning and development at Hearts On Fire. She also is founder of The Jewelry Coach, a sales training community for jewelers.
I’ve been teaching how important storytelling at the counter is for more than 30 years. I am also preparing a new class on the subject for Hearts On Fire’s upcoming University (a three-day event to help retailers with their personal and professional development).

I believe we can all be great storytellers; it’s in our DNA.

Learning to sell through storytelling is, in my opinion, the single most underutilized tool a sales professional can have. Earning a customer’s trust is essential when it comes to selling. It always has been, and today it’s more important than ever before.

We know the new customer demands a unique experience and a connection with the salesperson. They also don’t want to be sold to. It’s human nature to want to make a connection with the person whom we’re buying from, to feel like our needs are understood and that the sales associate cares about more than just a commission.

Therefore, closing on a sale depends on the salesperson’s ability to make a customer feel as though their unique story is being heard.

The key here lies in understanding. As a customer, when we feel understood, communication with your sales associate is more natural, and we tend to feel a level of trust. Once trust is established, we are more open to hearing a sales associate’s story about how this item solves the customer’s problem or need.

From there, we can say “yes” without feeling pushed. No one wants to feel pushed.

Sell Stories, Not Jewelry
One of the most effective ways of making sure sales associates don’t come off as untrustworthy is to ensure they are thinking about their store, their brands and their potential customers as a collection of stories.

I tell sales associates, managers and owners every day that they should be able to tell a story about everything in their cases. Yes, they look at me like I am crazy (I am not.) Winning over customers is to think of everything in your cases and the store as a narrative that aligns with your customers’ stories.

We are living in a time of unprecedented knowledge and skepticism, and many of the old methods of persuasion selling are no longer good enough. In order to close a sale, we need to connect with our customers on an emotional level. I will go to my grave preaching this, and I preach it every day.

In almost all situations, people respond to great stories. Sales is no different. Sales associates must learn how to effectively encapsulate the value of what they are offering within the context of a customer’s pain point, as this is the best way to truly connect with them.

If you sit in one of my workshops or academies at Hearts On Fire, you know how passionate I am about this. I call it your customers’ “unspoken need.”

Sharing
But, how can we improve the quality of the stories the sales associates are telling?

A first step is to establish an environment of collaboration among your team that encourages them to share winning stories, compelling language and tips on objection-handling with one another on a regular basis.

Storytelling is most effective when it comes, as the saying goes, “straight from the horse’s mouth.”

Therefore, managers should find ways to collect peer-generated insights that sales associates can easily refer to as a refresher whenever and wherever they need it.

Practice your brand stories with everyone. You should be able to tell a story about everything in your cases and be able to connect the story to your customer. Working together on this will be essential.

An easy way to do this would be to assign items in your cases to a sales associate, and that associate will need to report back the brand or collection story and train the team on it. Everyone wins.

Best of luck!

Pat Henneberry is vice president of global learning and development at Hearts On Fire. She also is founder of The Jewelry Coach, a sales training community for jewelers. Reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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