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Building Sales Rapport Means Learning to Tell Stories
Good sales enablement materials are critical to the sales process. Today, there are more choices than ever, and include digital media such as video and animation. While these tools can be used to enhance the sales process, however, it’s important they don’t detract from the most critical part of the puzzle: the ability to tell a story.
As human beings, we’re hardwired to appreciate stories, and they can add significant value to an item being offered for sale. Think about the goofy auctions you see in the news sometimes: a grilled cheese sandwich with the face of a beloved religious figure selling for five figures. It’s not because anyone wants a moldy grilled cheese sandwich, but because that sandwich has become famous thanks to the story being told about it on the Internet.
Successful sales are about building trust, and stories are one great way to do that, according to Carey Green writing for the Anthony Iannarino “Into the Arena” sales blog. In the blog post, Green reviews Paul Smith’s book, “Sell With A Story,” and an accompanying podcast. Green notes that sales professionals who include more stories into their sales pitches can increase trust, and thereby increase sales overall.
“Sales professionals tend to rely on their data and slide decks far too much when they should be learning to tell stories of successful clients, of difficult scenarios their company has worked through, and of preferable futures their clients want to attain,” wrote Green. “That’s because stories are one of the primary ways human beings build trust between each other – and sales is all about building trust.”
In the sales process, stories represented by well-written case studies, for example, are important. Prospects are interested in hearing how a company similar to theirs identified and solved a problem with the implementation of new technology. But while written case studies are good, the ability for a salesperson to tell the story in a compelling way is better. Sales people who rely too much on presentation materials often run out of things to say.
“Many times a sales presentation goes sideways when the slide deck is put away and all the stats and figures have already been said,” wrote Green. “That’s because the prospect throws out a scenario they foresee happening and asks the salesperson what their company would do in that situation. If the salesperson doesn’t know how to tell a compelling story about a time the company faced a similar problem and overcame in spite of the difficulties, they’re going to come across as too good to be true and inauthentic.”
Most sales professionals have long known that a great presentation is less about what is said and more about how it’s said. A bulleted list of benefits is never going to be as effective as having those benefits described and woven into a real-life scenario by the salesperson. For this reason, sales professionals looking to boost their close rates need to not only make the stories available, but learn to tell them in a compelling way.
Edited by Alicia Young