Sales Tip of the Month: What People are Communicating Through Their Stories

By: Doug Rooker, Vice President, Sales

When someone tells you a story, that person is actually telling you the reason he or she is doing something. Successful salespeople know how to determine the underlying motives and objectives that drive the stories prospects share with them.

Remember, that the purpose of the story is to communicate something. The story you hear during a sales call has a purpose. It’s virtually never told just to entertain you.

When one prospect tells you a story about a late delivery problem he had with a current or previous vendor, he’s telling you that schedule is important to him. When another prospect shares a tale about how tough her boss was on a colleague who couldn’t get the budget numbers to happen, she may be telling you that she needs your help to find creative ways to address the pricing issues she faces. And if you have ever had a prospect tell you about a quality control debacle she had with her most recent vendor, she was letting you know that she needs you to work hard to meet all of her company’s specifications for products and services offered.

Communication is key. We’ve heard that a million times. But you would be surprised at how many salespeople lose sight of the purpose of the stories that prospects happen to communicate with them during phone calls and face-to-face meetings. Keep in mind, there are no accidental stories – if your contact is taking the time to share a story about how the company operates, or what his objectives are within the company – that is something worth carefully analyzing – so be sure to have your pen ready and start taking notes. When the meeting is over ask yourself, “What is this person trying to tell me, and how can I use what I’ve just learned to help this person do his or her job better?

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