I asked renowned storytelling expert Paul Smith to sit down with me for a brief video interview because I wanted my audience to benefit from his research and tips on storytelling. You know how strongly I advocate working on your “sales story,” and no one has more data and ideas for how to effectively deploy stories than Paul. Grab a cup, mug, or bottle of your favorite beverage and click below to watch our short conversation about the power of using stories, and his valuable new book, Sell with a Story: How to Capture Attention, Build Trust, and Close the Sale
Paul asked me to provide the foreword for SELL WITH A STORY, and the publisher has granted permission to post it here. Friends, my thoughts below aren’t hyperbole; I’m convinced that this book can truly help everyone who sells for a living or needs to influence others…
“Sell with a Story has the power to transform your sales results. This instant sales classic is required reading for anyone who sells for a living, leads salespeople or simply finds themselves occasionally having to persuade someone to do something.
Paul Smith’s first book, Lead with a Story – A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire, dramatically increased my effectiveness as a speaker and consultant. So you can imagine my excitement upon learning that Smith was applying his storytelling expertise to a new book on my favorite topic – selling.
I spend my days helping sales leaders and salespeople develop new business and acquire new customers. More than any other topic or sales skill, the area where sellers require the most help is with telling their story. Almost every day I am proclaiming to anyone who will listen that “your story is your most critical sales weapon.” Yet, executives and salespeople tend to be awful at storytelling. Just awful. Their stories are boring, confusing, often pointless, and almost always self-focused. In fact, as you’ll read in Chapter 1, according to Smith, many lack the essential components to even qualify as a “story.”
A great sales story changes everything. It causes buyers to put down their defense shields. It helps them relax (Chapter 2). It engages their minds and their hearts by appealing to both their intellect and emotions. A great story builds credibility and properly positions you in the eye of the buyer. Instead of being viewed as a pitchman (see the pearls of wisdom Smith pulled from procurement people in Chapter 25), a compelling story helps you come across as the value-creator, professional problem-solver and consultant you so badly want to be.
Possibly even more important, your powerful story opens up buyers to share theirs (Chapter 5.) Nothing softens prospective clients to answer your probing questions and reveal their problems, needs, desired results, frustrations, and opportunities better than your ability to tell a relevant story in the appropriate way at just the right time! Too often, we blow quickly through the discovery phase because buyers are not forthcoming when it comes to sharing information. Typically, our probing isn’t effective because we haven’t warmed up the prospect, built credibility, or earned the right to ask provocative questions – all things a great story can accomplish for us.
Sell with a Story delivers on the promise of its subtitle, How to Capture Attention, Build Trust, and Close the Sale, by relaying how real salespeople tell stories throughout every stage of the sales process. These authentic stories (of how sellers deploy their own stories when building rapport, presenting, handling objections, closing, and servicing customers after the sale) are worth the price of admission alone.
One of the most interesting facets of this book is that while it’s highly entertaining and easy to read (because it’s filled with intriguing stories!), it also helps you get to work putting these valuable principles to use. Smith implores readers to treat this as a workbook: keep a pen and pad handy; download the templates; identify the narratives you need and then craft them into compelling stories you can use. The author did his homework (interviewing hundreds of people for this book), and he has earned the right to ask you do yours.
If you’re serious about increasing your effectiveness as a communicator and looking to transform your sales results, Sell with a Story is for you. This book empowered and energized me, and I know it will do the same for you.”
Paul Smith is one of the world’s leading experts on organizational storytelling. He’s a keynote speaker, storytelling coach, and author of the books Sell with a Story, Parenting with a Story, and the bestseller Lead with a Story already in its 8th printing and available in 6 languages around the world. Paul is also a former consultant at Accenture and former executive and 20-year veteran of The Procter & Gamble Company.