You Don’t Sell Time-Share Property, You Save Lives. The Power of a Good Story.

Marisa Keegan Communication, Employee Coaching, Employee Communications, Employment Branding and Culture, Marisa Keegan

I just finished watching The Queen of Versailles for the second time…in two days. It’s okay to judge me for my commitment to trashy TV because I’m fully aware that I’m pretty much a reality show junkie.  But this ‘American Documentary Film’ was a trifecta of crazy:

  • Queen of VersaiBeauty queen marries David Siegel, a rich older man, and proclaims her love for him, not his money-cash.
  • The economy tanks, they are forced to sell their 90,000 (yes ninety thousand) square foot mansion, lay off fourteen of their nineteen housekeepers/nannies, shop at (gasp) Walmart, and live like us lay people in the confines of their 26,000 square foot house.
  • Beauty queen says, with no conviction, that she married David because she loved him.

Train-wreck aside, there is one clip in the movie that I believe each and every one of you should watch.

You see, David Siegel is a good business man. He made his money as the founder of Westgate Resorts which is “the largest privately owned time-share company in the world”.  His sales people are the life-blood of the organization and are amazing at convincing people to buy time-share property. Those sales people are experts at what they do and they are incredibly passionate.

In this documentary we have the opportunity to see exactly how Westgate Resorts motivates their sales employees. It’s really quite amazing. They do it by telling a good story, creating a connection, and telling employees with great clarity how their job adds value and meaning to the world.

In one scene (25 minutes into the video), a Senior Leader delivers the following message to his sales employees,

“Why are we here?! (dramatic pause) To save lives!

And you thought you were just selling time sharing didn’t you? We sell vacation, vacations are healthy for you, do you believe that?”

Sales people shout “Yes”.

“I can show you the articles and the studies – those who take the fewest amounts of vacations are most likely to have a heart attack. You are just like a doctor, nurse, fire man, police man, life guard. They all save lives. And you all do it too… don’t let these people leave here without buying something… Today, make a sale, save a life. Let’s have a great day!”

And the crowd goes wild.

I’ll tell you this, there is a reason those employees are so connected to selling their product to people who can’t really afford a time-share. It’s because they truly believe they are saving lives. They believe that the job they are doing is valuable to the lives of the customers they are talking to. And because of this connection they are hard working, passionate, money producing employees.

Do you want hardworking, passionate, money producing employees at your organization?

  1. Get used to the idea of Corporate Storytelling. Some think storytelling is too fluffy to belong in the corporate world, others use it as a way to create connection between their leadership team and their front line employees. Those who are telling a good story are winning.
  2. Figure out what your story is and make sure every single person in your organization knows it. At Rackspace our story was Fanatical Support. Leadership talked passionately about how Fanatical Support improved the lives of our customers, managers told and re-told examples of Fanatical Support, and employees worked hard to live up to these examples. Eventually, the  stories grew legs and before long every employee knew them, repeated them to potential customers, blogged about them on their personal blogs, and felt connected and inspired by them. Bam – the power of a good story.

The corporate world is a long way from truly accepting the idea of corporate storytelling but in all my years working with hugely successful companies I can tell you that the best of them understood the value of a good story, worked hard to craft and shape theirs, and saw the power they had over both employees and customers.

Where does your company stand on this topic?

Marisa Keegan
Marisa is a Culture Coach for small and quickly growing organizations trying to establish the infrastructure required to create a company full of passionate, motivated, and engaged employees. She has held culture and engagement roles for two nationally recognized great places to work, founded the research and networking group Culture Fanatics, and is an industry recognized blogger. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and twin boys and is looking forward to the day she can bike across the country to raise money for MS research. @marisakeegan.