open book with images of fantasy and storytelling

Storytelling: Salesmanship or Fantasy?

I have often suggested that great salespeople know and understand the value of storytelling in the sales process.  Do you actually know when to insert a story into the sales call? 

Let’s explore the types of storytelling and when to use them in the prospecting-sales call-closing process.

In the book “Stories that Stick” by Kindra Hall (professional storyteller and nationally-known speaker), she reveals the four unique stories types that can used to differentiate, captivate, and elevate your product to your prospective client.

  • The “Value Story” is used to convince customers they need what you provide…. this is probably best used as you introduce your product to the customer, early in the sales process, and should probably be part of your introduction and/or 30 second elevator pitch.
  • The “Founder Story” is paramount to help persuade investors and customers that your organization is worth the investment.  Think of your brand identity, image, and pillars when communicating this story.
  • The “Purpose Story” is used to align and inspire your employees and internal customers.  I specifically think these stories are valuable when training or coaching associates as to “why” we do what we do and say what we say.  Think about coaching or mentoring a front desk associate to use their personality and knowledge of the hotel to lead the customer to the right rate, date, and room.
  • And, the “Customer Story”.  These stories allow those who use your product or service to share their authentic experiences with others.  Encouraging reviews and testimonials from customers are a huge benefit to your salesmanship.  Using actual customer experiences and quotes as part of your sales storytelling could not be more authentic.
Image suggesting that you can grow your money.
The "Value Story": Storytelling that convinces customers that they need what you are selling.

Sometimes the biggest obstacle in the sales process is the reluctance of the customer to change vendors.  It isn’t that they think that vendor is the best, or they provide the most value, it’s the fact that “nature says that the devil you know is better than the savior you don’t know.”    By switching from feature-benefit sales to storytelling it allows a salesperson to quit “puking” amenities, and begin learning to highlight how your product affects real-life  –  using actual stories that sell.   

According to Ms. Hall,

“The most important gap any business needs to bridge is the gap between what they offer and the people, who, whether they know it or not, need it.  To capture the attention of buyers, to convince them that, yes, this is the solution, and eventually to transform them into repeat users, customers, buyers, believers.  When it comes to sales and marketing, the ‘Value Story’ is king.  And, the value of a Value Story starts in psychology and spans the full spectrum of why we say yes.”

In the book, there are so many examples of Value Stories and the benefits of storytelling.  Instead of typing them all in this blog, I am going to share one story example:

“As Ken Segall, once the creative director of Steve Jobs’s ad agency, so eloquently put it, ‘There are tens of millions of people who will stop in their tracks at this commercial and wipe a tear from their eye.  As a result, they will feel slightly more attached to Apple, which is the marketing purpose of that spot.’

Please note these key pieces of that statement:  ‘stop in their tracks,’ ‘wipe a tear from their eye,’ and ‘feel slightly more attached to Apple.”  At the time this spot aired, Apple was facing a bit of a backlash (the U2 album debacle).  The bridge they needed to build had to be heavy on captivation and transformation elements for it to work.  Pushing too hard on influence could have cause further trouble.  Wrapping the features in a heartfelt story of a teenager and his family struck the perfect value chord.

Seagall concluded, ‘The reactions have been universally glowing… [The ad] lines up perfectly with the values Apple has communicated for years.  It’s not about technology – it’s about quality of life.’

People don’t buy the thing.  They buy what the thing will do for them.  

In order for them to do that, you have to tell them a story.

That story is a value story.”

OK – so how do you create a Value Story for your hotel?

Let’s talk about a few opportunities:

  • Create your 30-second elevator pitch.  Video yourself talking about the service you provide, the quality of your staff, and the product you represent.  Your authentic words and expressions will make you stand out from the crowd.  Use the video in prospecting letters and emails…. and on social media.
  • Interview a customer on video while they are onsite at the hotel or while you are in their office visiting.  Ask them why they like your hotel and what is the value of your product to their company.  Happy, repeat customers are your best fodder.  Use these videos and or testimonials in your sales and prospecting correspondence and on social media.  (Get permission first.).
  • Video or photograph meeting room set ups and give tours of the space.  If there is accessibility from your meeting room to the exterior of your hotel – show how breaks and fresh air are special benefits for meeting attendees.  Photograph and show food and beverage options!
  • Take pictures of brides and their families hosting hospitality rooms, seeing and greeting families at breakfast, watching a bride come out of the elevator or down the stairs to go to their wedding.  Touch on the heart strings of other mothers and fathers of the bride, to show them how special their daughter will be and how your staff makes it work without a hitch.  Now upsell it.  Create a “Going to the Chapel” package opportunity for your meeting room.  Purchase a few items that you can put in your meeting or board room to make it special?  Items like full length ornate standing mirror, a vanity table, offer set ups of sparkling water or light snacks – things that make “getting ready” a special event (one that you can charge for).  
  • Show how your parking lot is capable of holding large vehicles and busses.  This is a great value to construction companies and companies that have larger vehicles.  Maybe you show how you can reserve special parking areas for motorcycle clubs and antique cars to reinforce parking lot safety.


“The most important characteristic of the Value Story is, of course, that it works.  It takes terrible sales and marketing and turns it into something that can captivate, influence, and transform.  The Value Story makes it easy for your potential client, your future loyal customer, to understand how great your product or service really is.  No matter who you are of what your story is, when you shift your focus to the people you want to serve and relieve the pain they might feel or want to avoid, you’ll stop having to wonder why your marketing seems flat or ineffective.  Create a Value Story for your offering and you’ll see the results.  In some cases immediately.”


The sky is the limit on your ideas.  A picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth a million words!  Show and tell was created at a very young age and we need to bring back this in our hotel sales efforts.


In my next blog, I’ll talk about the “Founder Story.”


Until then, happy “value story” storytelling,


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