Blue Highways Journey – Episode 30 – Persuasiveness

Jerry Dawkins was preparing for his second solo blue highways journey. He decided to take with him a recently hired sales engineer, Annie Euler. Annie had the credentials and the personality to be a successful sales engineer, but something wasn’t working. He hoped their time together would allow him to discover her sales challenges.

As they met with people on their travels, Annie commented to Jerry: “Everyone has a story to tell, don’t they?” 

“Yes, they do, and they are great storytellers,” Jerry responded. “But what else did you observe?” he asked. Annie was stumped. I’m not going to tell you the answer, but I want you to be able to answer my question by the end of the trip”. 

As their trip progressed, Annie tried to be a better observer. At the end of each day, she would try to capture the essence of the stories to answer Jerry’s question: “What else did you observe?” She started taking notes.

As they finished their trip and were heading home, Jerry again asked: “What did you observe?” Annie was now prepared. “First, every story was positive and memorable. I’ll remember this for a long time.”

Why do you think they are memorable?” Jerry asked.

“They were personal, for one thing. I have the image of the person telling the story in my mind. They also took something I was familiar with and gave it a new meaning.” Annie responded.

“Very good,” Jerry replied. “Now, what else did you observe?”

“Every story had a purpose. Often I would be surprised at the end of the story by its purpose. That surprise ending also made it more memorable.” 

“I’m impressed,” responded Jerry. “Now what else did you observe?” 

“I was surprised by how the storytellers made themselves vulnerable by sharing something personal about themselves. But they never did it out of shame. In fact, their vulnerability made the story more relatable.” 

Jerry was clearly impressed: “Now what else did you learn?” 

“The stories made me curious. I wanted to know more. In fact, the stories were the opening to developing a relationship that made me want to know them better. I was truly listening rather than just waiting to talk.” 

“Now, how can you use what you observed, in your sales career?” Jerry asked. Annie was blown away. Now she understood why Jerry kept asking her those questions. This trip had taught her more about sales that all of the training she had gone through.

* * *

“People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others.”
– Blaise Pascal (philosopher)

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