Sharing Stories Embeds Values

img3 In early 2014 I had the pleasure of interviewing a senior sales manager for a big box retail operation on the West Coast of the US and asked her to share a few of her secrets for success with me. Danielle shared the 3 principal keys she uses to inspire her sales team on a daily basis and how these simple actions make a huge difference in her team’s sales performance.

Key 1 – The Daily Huddle
At the beginning and end of each day she gathers her staff together for what they call The Daily Huddle. Huddles usually have 10 – 50 people depending on the team’s work schedule. A Huddle lasts no more than thirty minutes and is usually led by the senior sales manager.

Key 2 – Daily Inspiration through Stories
Huddles are comprised of 80% inspiration and 20% housekeeping. The structure looks like this. Inspiration > Housekeeping > more Inspiration. Sessions always start with an uplifting story. They’re also used to convey housekeeping information from corporate but this is purposely minimized.

Only positive stories and information are shared in the Huddle. A happy, upbeat and inspired sales team increases customer engagement and customer satisfaction. Team members are encouraged to exceed customers’ expectations and, whenever possible, tailor unique solutions for every customer. Inspirational stories help the sales team to accomplish both.

Key 3 – Keep it Simple, Keep It Real
In a recent Huddle, team members were asked to think of something simple they could do that would make a real difference in customers’ lives. Groups of four to five worked on this for about 5 minutes; one team’s answer was simplicity itself: listen. And the moment they recounted was awesome.

Sebastian, a junior sales associate, recently listened to a customer as she told him how she left her hospital administration job and dropped out of the workforce for 2 years to deal with her daughter’s rare illness. She spent a considerable amount of time fundraising for her daughter’s cause and successfully raised the significant amount of money that was needed to treat her condition. After several years of treatment and her daughter’s disease now under control, Mother wanted to rejoin the workforce but could not find a job in hospital administration or anywhere else. Extremely frustrated and obviously venting, she finally said, “I’m at my wits end!” After attentively listening to her plight, Sebastian simply replied, “Have you ever considered fund raising?”

“It was one of those ah ha! moments,” Sebastian said. “You could see the light bulb going off in her head and she became a different person!” The two of them spent the next 10 minutes brainstorming about all the possibilities she simply hadn’t seen before. During the last 2 years, she had become a very successful fundraiser for her daughter’s cause and with Sebastian’s help suddenly realized she could apply this valuable experience and skill to reentering the workforce.

By simply listening and caring, Sebastian created a customer for life. Often, the most important part we play in a conversation is simply listening. And, it’s good to know that by listening to another person’s story, we can make a real difference in their lives.