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February 19, 2018 BIZ BOOKS

How to capture attention, build trust, and close the sale

Jim Pawlak

“Sell with a Story — How to Capture Attention, Build Trust, and Close the Sale” by Paul Smith (AMACOM, $24.95).

Buying decisions aren't all about the “numbers.” Emotions play an important role, too, because they solidify the prospect's thinking about the problem and create a personal connection to the salesperson. Both of these sell the numbers. How do you sell to emotions? Through stories. People see themselves and their roles when stories are told.

A prospect's stories provide content and context for a sales story. They provide a salesperson with an understanding of the prospect's link to the situation. How do you get a prospect to tell a story? Ask open-ended, “describe an event/day in the life,” questions like: “When did you know you had a real problem on your hands?” and “What are the effects of the situation on the various departments and staff involved?”

With their stories in mind, the salesperson can draw from various types of sales stories that connect to the prospect. Here are three:

“Why I do what I do” stories will influence a buyer's trust in you. When you're passionate about how you chose your profession and employer, you'll pass the “sniff” test with flying colors.

“I'll tell you when I can't help you” stories speak to honesty. Trying to fit square pegs and round holes won't work. Prospects will appreciate that you won't try a “guinea-pig” solution. They'll also remember what you can do, which will likely lead to a call when there's a match.

“I'll go to bat for you with my company” stories deal with handling disagreements. Often, such situations aren't directly connected to the salesperson (e.g. quality, installation, warranty, post-sale services, etc.). Buyers want a sales rep who will weigh both sides and help resolve the problem.

Two things to remember about story delivery: 1. It shouldn't come across as memorized. 2. It should maintain a conversational tone.

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