Sell with a Story
How to Capture Attention, Build Trust, and Close the Sale
Author: Paul Smith
Pub Date: September 2016
Print Edition: $24.95
Print ISBN: 9780814437117
Page Count: 304
e-Book ISBN: 9780814437124
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Building Rapport with Potential Buyers through Storytelling
Five Types of Stories that Open the Door to Closing Sales
People tend to do business with people they like and trust. That’s why building rapport with a potential buyer is crucial to sales success. “Storytelling is the quickest way to build rapport,” says Paul Smith, an expert on business storytelling. “It helps people get to know you more intimately than reading your résumé.” As he shares in his new book, SELL WITH A STORY (AMACOM 2016), every salesperson should have these five “stories about me” in their repertoire to ease buyer bonding and buy-in:
1. “Why I do what I do” stories. To know you well enough to trust you, a buyer needs to understand not just what you do for a living, but why. What drew you to your profession or your company? “The reasons say something about who you are as a person,” Smith notes. “And the passion you show will influence the buyer. After all, who doesn’t want to do business with someone who’s passionate about what they do?”
2. “I’ll tell you when I can’t help you” stories. If you’re honest enough to tell buyers when your company is not right for a particular need, they’re more likely to believe you when you tell them you are the best choice. How can you tell that to a prospect before there’s a problem? Tell them a story—about a time you told another buyer, “I’m not familiar with that,” or “That’s not something we do,” followed by “Let me see what I can find out,” or “Here’s someone I recommend.”
3. “I’ll tell you when I made a mistake” stories. Simply saying, “Yeah, I’ve made mistakes before, but I always own up to them,” doesn’t do much to demonstrate your credibility and trustworthiness. Telling a story about a time you made a mistake and then told the buyer, before they heard about it from anyone else, does.
4. “I’ll go to bat for you with my company” stories. In disagreements between a customer and the company, sometimes one side has a better argument and sometimes the other side does. Buyers want a sales rep who is able to weigh both sides and willing to lobby on their behalf when the customer is right. Rather than wait around for buyers to learn that on their own, share a story about when you’ve actually done it.
5. “I’m not who you think I am” stories. Buyers sometimes presume the worst about a seller’s character or motives. So how can you overcome unspoken biases? First, consider what negative preconceptions prospects are likely to have about you. (Can’t think of anything? “Ask your boss, your peers, your predecessor, and even your most trusted customers,” Smith urges. “They’ll know.”) Then think of a situation that demonstrates the opposite conclusion and craft a story around it.
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