Tell a story with BLT and you’ll weave a yarn of sales

Tell a story with BLT and you’ll weave a yarn of sales

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

Ever tell a good story? People laughing or asking more questions when you’re done? And later that day, those same people retold your story another 3 or 4 times. That’s impact.

Paul Homoly, business development expert and master storyteller, has created a formula for the developing and telling high impact stories within the sales environment. He has built a concept that makes telling stories a duplicatable process called StorySelling.

Homoly says StorySelling blends the images and appeal of stories, with the logic and intention of sales. Stories make sales presentations memorable, fun and persuasive. StorySelling is the sex appeal of selling it’s sales appeal. But, to be effective in a sales situation, it must conform to these five principles:

  1. Builds rapport.
  2. Adds value to the product, and the prospect.
  3. Has emotional appeal.
  4. Is memorable.
  5. Advances the prospect closer towards the sale.

Here’s an example of StorySelling. Let’s say you sell residential real estate. Your prospects, a husband and wife, asked about a specific neighborhood called The Cove. You know they both love the outdoors he loves to sail, and she loves gardening.

(The story is told as you’re in the middle of the sales presentation) You know, Mr. and Mrs. Prospect, years ago The Cove was part of the largest apple orchard in the state. In late spring, apple blossoms would fall from the trees like snow. My father told me stories how he’s seen white tailed deer flock like birds to those apples.

When The Cove community was planned, the developers wanted to retain the charm of orchard. The home sites, fairways, and marina were sculptured out retaining much of the rolling terrain, woodlands, and 100 year old apple trees.

Today, The Cove has 140 home sites on lots big enough for a gardener to grow a year’s supply of vegetables. The marina has 80 deep water slips with a ship’s store. Would you like to see where you can stand and watch the deer eat apples?

Let’s apply the five principles to this story:

  1. The story builds rapport. It builds the B.L.T. not the sandwich, rather the Believability, Likability and Trust of the salesperson. It seamlessly flows into the sales presentation, without of hint of sales technique. It gives us that all important glimpse into the personal life of the salesperson, more important the story is original and most important, the story is true. Nothing will kill your credibility faster than telling a non original story or worse, someone else’s story as your own and getting caught! 
  2. The story adds value to the product and the prospect. Great stories groom the sales process. Telling about the history of the land adds value to the home sites. Even though bulldozers pushed over hundreds of apple trees, and the deer are still running, the story shows personal respect for the land an important value to outdoor lovers. Lot sizes are described in terms of their garden potential and the marina in terms of its appropriateness for deep-keeled sail boats.
  3. The story has emotional appeal. A story without emotional appeal is not worth telling. 75% of sales is the emotional component. The mention of “My father told me stories…” reminds us how our parents told us stories. The deer eating apples is still true today, putting the buyer into story with a happy ending. The emotional pull here (nostalgia) is subtle just as it should be. Stories are the perfect containers for bringing emotional appeal into the sales presentation in a way that is entertaining and acceptable. What’s the easiest way to add the emotional appeal to buy? Tell a story!
  4. The story is memorable. To be memorable your story must be visual. Choose your language carefully to create the most visual descriptions. “In late spring, apple blossoms would fall from the trees like snow” and “white tailed deer flock like birds to those apples”. Metaphors, similes, contrasts and comparisons create lifelike images in the mind of the listeners. Think about the stories you retell.
  5. The story advances the prospect closer towards the sale. This story ends with a question, “Would you like to see where you can stand and watch the deer eat apples?” There’s not an animal or outdoor lover alive who would not say “yes.” And of course, as the answer (and close) to the sale, you stand them on the back porch of the house you’re selling.

Questions within the story as asides: Did this ever happen to you? or, Do you know what I mean? act as opinion seeking tools to help you understand he needs of the prospect the heart of the sales. It may also lead the prospect to tell a story (known as a “topper”) back.

A well-told illustrative story is the strongest valued added component of a sales presentation. The value stories bring to the sales process is unique to you because no one else can tell your story. The better the story, the greater the value. And it’s that value that converts selling into buying.


FREE GitBit… A StorySelling worksheet to help build your story and a bonus story self-assessment to make sure your SalesStory is on the money! Just go to click Access GitBit, register and enter the secret words, “StorySelling”.