Places of authenticity

A customer is telling you how he’s doing these days. Suddenly the tone of his voice changes, he takes a deep breath and looks down for a minute or so, and you know that he’s about to tell you something beyond the normal business conversation between a sales person and a customer.

He mentions that his dad died last week. You can see the sadness in his eyes. He tells you how they started the business together and how much his dad helped him in the early years of the business when he was young and inexperienced.  

“My father was the kind of person who’d never let a client down, even if that meant losing money” he says.  “I remember once he offered a deferred payment to one of our customers who was going through a rough patch. The guy didn’t ask for it, but my father knew he was in an extremely difficult situation. He had a young family and had been working hard to keep the business afloat and pay all his employees’ salaries. My father said he was one of the very few decent and hardworking people that he knew in business.”

He paused for a second and added “It’s important to be able to trust people you do business with, and I do trust you. You know that time you offered me a great discount on one of your services? I knew you were going the extra mile because we needed it to get the account with a new customer. Well, that day I thought you were a bit like my father: someone who doesn’t let their customers down.”

You were touched when you heard this story. 

You told a couple of friends and your partner about it. You thought about it before going to bed. Next morning you still had a warm feeling in your heart when you thought about it. 

When people ask me where they can find their first stories I tell them to start looking into conversations that have moved and touched them, remembering the times when they made a difference, when they shone.

This would be a great story to explain why you do what you do and who you are when the chips are down. 

It is also a very rare conversation. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have experienced this level of intimacy with your customers, but what matters here is that the story reveals something about you: what we can expect if we do business with you.

Stories that connect always start in places of authenticity.