Story telling has been around since the beginning of mankind. It was used in handing down both tradition and other pieces of information from generation to generation. Good story telling is an art that for many has gone out of style in an age of wanting just the facts, more PowerPoint bullets, etc. Most importantly, every one of us has a story to tell. Selling, or bartering (a form of selling), has been around as long as storytelling. For some who could tell a good story, they would eat well that night but for others who could not, they would go to bed hungry.
Paul Smith in his latest book “Sell with a Story” takes these two ancient forms of communication and shows you how to leverage the power of a story in every step of the sales process. If you are in sales, this book is a must read, go and get it now. However, if you think this book is not for you because your career is not sales related, be aware that you are still a person who has to sell. Every day of your life you sway others towards or away from something; even if that something is what movie you and your co-workers will go watch tonight. Everyone is a sales person, but not everyone sells as a career. I say this because I think many of the points the author makes are relevant to both people in the sales profession and those who do not. Do not pass up this book just because you are not officially a sales person.
The stories and examples given in this book are memorable and very well thought out; not be a surprise for a book that is about creating stories. I enjoyed the flow and layout of the book very much. The first half explains what a story is and what it is not along with many examples along the way. The second half of the book walks you through how to write stories so they are memorable and impactful to your audience. It is the how-to portion of the book which includes examples and activities to help you better understand story writing. I felt the author did a wonderful job of blending several examples along with exercises giving the reader much needed actual experience of the material covered.
For those of you who read this book, you will be surprised how many of the example stories used you will remember not only for the day but I’m sure months to come; especially pig island. This recalling of the story is exactly what the author wants you to do for your customers. I was happy to hear that the author was not telling me to abandon my current selling techniques or style as other book attempt to do. Not at all. Instead, it is clear from that start that this storytelling method is something that augments your current sales process and improves one’s relationship with their clients. What surprised me was the author’s multiple reference to other sales related materials and authors. For me, I discovered many new authors which I will be adding to my “to-read” list soon. The author shows how weaving a story or two during the sales cycle brings one’s message or pitch to life and that it more often sticks with them.
The author provided real-world examples and backs up his claims using published research from psychological, economic, and behavioral sources. There is a science to all of this story telling and for those who have used this technique in the past, you know it works. If you are one who already is telling stories, the author early in the book directs you to the second half where you will learn what makes a story good and how to build various kinds of stories. It is a very powerful and useful section that should not be skipped. I would recommend you listen to the whole book no matter what as we can all learn something from it. In this second half of the book, the author covers the topic of stories not being used a means of manipulation, but more as a compelling tool to help them better understand your business, product, or technology. He also discusses how to address or handling made-up stores, which are valid to use with some caveats. The author shows that in both cases it is important to remain ethical and open about one’s intentions. Not being ethical is a quick way of destroying any relationships you have developed with your customers.
Another powerful point I took away from this book was that it is important that not only you tell a story to your customer, but also trying to get your customer to tell a story to you. There is so much detail and other data one can be glean from another’s story that is not included or found in closed-ended questions; so much more than simple yes or no answers. And to this, the author says that you need to listen to the story being told, do not think about your next meeting or how to solve their issue at this time.
The narration for this book is also done by the author himself. Both the audio quality and narration was professionally done. I enjoyed the narrators voice and the pace at which the book was read. I did not notice any audio artifacts while listening. There was absolutely nothing bad I could say about the book’s narration.
A note for those of you have listen to the Audible or audiobook version of this book, make sure you download the companion PDF from Audible’s website located in you’re “My Books” found under the book’s title listed as PDF. It contains the figures referenced in the second half of the book along with some of the example sheets found in the print version. Secondly, visit the author’s website at http://www.leadwithastory.com/resources for additional resources related to the book.
In summary, I think this is a powerful and well-written book that is good for anyone to learn from. As intended, I think it is more geared towards those whose careers are in the selling profession, but do not let this exclude you from listening. The author also has two other books, which I have not listened to, “Lead with a Story” and “Parent with a Story” which may be more geared and focused on areas of interest to you. Based on this book, I would recommend you also check out these others of you are not in sales.
Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.