Have you ever had a salesperson ask you to tell them a story so they can get to know you?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 240,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

Have you ever had a salesperson ask you to tell them a story so they can get to know you?

  • Yes, it happens frequently: 20.6%
  • No, I’ve never been asked to tell a story: 79.4%

Stories tell more than the story. If you’re in sales -- and let’s be clear, we’re all in sales since we’re always selling ideas -- getting your buyer to tell you a story will give you insight into their challenges, their preferences, and their decision making approach. Asking buyers to tell stories also helps build a relationship and build trust. The more you know about the other person and their experiences, the easier it is to connect with them and understand their perspective. There are a few critical yet simple techniques to get your buyer to tell you stories like asking for specific events or prompting their story by asking about a specific problem. Who knows -- the next story you hear might help you close that sale or get your idea approved!

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."