Trading Tales for Sales

Craft a powerful story behind your business to differentiate yourself in a saturated market.

A man came to my door the other day. I had never seen him before and at first glance I could tell he was down on his luck. He said he was homeless and asked if he could cut my lawn for money. I started to say no when he began telling the story of his struggle.

It wasn’t long before I was agreeing to let him cut my grass that didn’t need cutting. He worked through the job quickly, leaving patches of high grass here and there. When he finished, I handed him $20 and a bottle of water and he was on his way.

In a way, this incident illustrated how important it is to tell your story when trying to win over new customers. It’s not about backing customers into a corner where they can’t say no, but being sure they have a chance to really get to know you and what you are about before making their decision. In your marketing and sales calls you should be telling current and potential customers your story, the reason you are in business and the virtues that have gotten you to where you are.

As this man has shown, the entry point into this market is low. He made $20 cutting my grass with my mower that I filled with gas. While it is true this isn’t likely going to turn into a successful landscape operation for him, if he finds 10 more people like me who are willing to grossly overpay for adequate lawn service, he could save up enough money to buy a used mower and trimmer and start something for himself—with a great story for how he got there.

That’s why just telling your story isn’t enough unless your story is a good one. Look for ways to differentiate yourself with products, services, accreditations and the way you do business. Whether you use organic products and environmentally friendly equipment, or make regular contributions of time and money to local charities and organizations, find ways to build a business with a strong story to help you get your foot in the door with new clients. Create a story you can be proud of and customers will be drawn to. In a saturated market, your story will set you apart.