Sales, Storytelling and Why We're All In The Feeling Business


Her physical body had grown frail with age and her time was spent bound to a chair. But her impish smile and the light that continued to dance across her eyes betrayed the ageless, endless soul that lives within us all.

I'd never met her, but my friend talked about his grandma with the same deep love and affection with which he spoke about all members of his family. I remember how, at first, I hated hearing him speak this way, his powerful love for and physical proximity to his family somehow highlighting what I saw as my own shortcomings as a daughter, granddaughter and a sister in my own blood tribe. 

He told me how they'd spent the day at the mall and hired one of those mobility scooters. He described the delight he'd seen and felt in her as she regained something of the physical freedom she had once known. A time when her legs would carry her wherever she wished and old age was something that happened in a future that seemed too far away to ever be real.

I asked him why they didn't get a mobility scooter for her at home, so she could experience that freedom and delight more often. It was a question of money, as things so often seem to be, but my mind was already tracking for ideas. My heart had been moved and called to action, perhaps as a way of compensating for the helplessness I felt with my own grandma, who was trapped inside the inescapable prison of dementia.

I asked him if we could play a game. A game where we would each commit to creating £1,000 so that we could buy his grandma a scooter.

We were both building our coaching businesses at the time and we were used to creating challenges for ourselves to move past our limited thinking and into inspired action. I asked him to agree to just one rule - that there were no rules about how we created the money. He accepted. Soon after, we hung up the phone and I sat down to write.

I poured out the words and the feelings of our conversation. I wrote about the freedom and delight she'd felt on the scooter and the way the passing of time had stolen the movement from her limbs. I then logged into PayPal, created a donation link, and posted the whole thing to Facebook.

Less than two months later, my friend bought a scooter for his grandma and sent me a photo with her sitting in it outside, that same impish grin on her face. 

Why does any of this matter to you?

I could have just posted to Facebook:

"My friend's grandma needs a mobility scooter to help her get around more easily. I've set up a donation link here. Please help us raise the money."

And you know what would have happened if I'd have posted that? Nothing. We wouldn't have had a single donation. 

And you know why?

Because the only reason people buy things or donate money is because of the way they feel and the way they want to feel. And your job, nay, your duty, as a business owner with something to sell that can impact people's lives for the better, is to help people feel something.

I recently switched my energy supplier from British Gas to Good Energy. Why? Because I care about the environment and switching to a green energy supplier helps me feel like the person I want to be in the world. 

I needed some new hand soap for my bathroom and came across The Naked Skincare Company at my local farmers market. I asked if she had any bottled hand soap and she told me they only make these traditional bars because they don't require plastic packaging and they last longer. I bought the soap. Why? Because that soap helps me feel like the person I want to be in a way that buying another plastic bottle from a faceless company can't.

It's got nothing at all to do with what you sell and everything to do with the stories you tell about what you sell and the way those stories make people feel.

The story is everything. 

Because without the story, I don't feel.

And if I don't feel, I don't buy.

So no matter what you sell, your first, last and only job is to tell a story that makes the people you most want to reach feel something. And I promise, when you start telling stories that connect with the people you're here to serve, your business will become not only more profitable, but more fulfilling too.

Let me leave you with this one last note:

Never, ever underestimate how a story can change (or even save) a life. Your words, your voice and your stories matter so much more than you will ever likely know. 

Love and courage,