When you are approached by a sales person, do their questions actually irritate you? Do questions move the needle towards you buying their product or service? Emotions are a bad word in business probably because men are not comfortable in letting down their guard. Getting men in business to imagine their business with your products or services can be achieved by using stories. Consulting firms call their stories "case studies".Here is a great article on using stories.

During years, I have been taught that art of selling had a lot to do with the ability to ask intelligent questions, and then to present one's offer in the context of the answers provided by your counterpart.
However, with hindsight, when I look back at my most significant sales - or at least those I am the most proud of - 3 spring to my mind. And I have to recognize that what they have in common has little to do with my ability to ask "intelligent questions". These transactions shares a common characteristic, though: they were all generated via a story loaded with emotion.
  • More than 20 years ago, as I was working as a sales executive with a computer manufacturer, one of my customers was a large insurance company. One day, as a bold move, I decided to call the CEO of the company and I provided him with some evidence that, without a fast move from his company in terms of increasing their IT processing power, they might find themselves confronted with difficulties during their beginning-of-the-year premium collection process. 3 weeks later, I was signing a $6m transaction with this insurance company.
  • About fifteen years ago, I experienced a situation with a business intelligence (BI)project manager with a mobile phone operator who wanted to equip his sales people with customer intelligence capabilities on their laptopsAfter a few words, it appeared clear to me that this project manager had a competitive technology in mind and that the only thing he wanted from me was just a low price, which he could leverage to make his preferred vendor drop his own price. In a state of desperation, I decided to tell the project manager the horror story of another mobile telephone operator who had launched a similar initiative, and who had experienced a resounding failure. WhySimply because the sales executives had not made the effort to use the new capabilities. Too far from their good old habits. Too much disruption. After telling this story, and presenting some elements that he might consider to avoid falling in the same trap, my counterpart revisited the specs of his project, and eventually made the decision to buy... from me.


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