Facts tell. Stories Sell.

It's an old saying in the sales profession and one I have observed at work countless times in my career. A mechanic can instruct you to change your oil every 3,000 miles, but the message will sink in better when he also tells the story of a stranded motorist who blew his engine because he neglected an oil change.

At a training session recently, I listened as Kendall described ways in which his clients leverage the power of a brand. I had noted then, as I have many times, the importance of understanding that builders don't build things for a living–they sell them. Kendall described how he uses this philosophy to strengthen relationships with remodelers.

"I hold meetings with my clients to help them on their website content and brochures," he said. He described one situation in which a client used the logo of a popular window brand on the client's website to establish credibility.

"It wasn't even a product we were selling [at the time]," he told his peers. "But I suggested that my client should feature the brand because it would help him sell all of his products more effectively."

The results were easy to see. The client reported that people began asking about the window brand and scheduling meetings to discuss the product as part of larger remodeling projects. Meanwhile, the success of Kendall's advice elevated his status in the market. He was a salesman they wanted to keep close and out of their competitors' offices.

The result is that Kendall became a powerful ally to his customers and they became powerfully loyal to him. He has been able to sustain fair margins while holding negotiations to a minimum. More important, he has frequently been able to add additional products to the packages he sells. He is the leading salesman–by far–for his employer as a result of his consultative selling approach.

The same thing will work for you. Provide ways in which your clients can sell their services and products more effectively. They will become loyal clients that seek your advice for years to come.

Here are the three keys to help you craft influential stories:

1. Make your point. State the facts about a situation or product and be specific about the point you are trying to make. Kendall's point was that brand recognition helps make sales easier for remodelers and contractors. My point is that you should teach your clients to sell more effectively. Prove you're a great Sales Leader by transferring your selling skills to your clients.

2. Tell a story. Kendall's story presented a case study of the remodeler successfully promoting a product brand to draw attention to its website and sell a package of goods to the consumer. His ability to get other clients to heed his advice is not based on the facts he tells, but by the story he sells.

3. Apply the story to your client or prospect. In Kendall's tale, the lessons were applied directly to the unique perspective of the client–i.e. how contractors can gain more leads by leveraging brand awareness.. My story applies to you in that it demonstrates how you can overcome price objection by establishing your value as an adviser who enhances clients' profits.

If you don't have stories to tell, it might be a sign that you're not paying attention. Keep focused on the facts and seek ways to apply those facts to case studies and success stories of your clients. You'll be amazed at the impact you create.

Rick Davis is president of Building Leaders Inc., an LBM advisory firm specializing in sales management training. He is an international speaker and author of Strategic Sales in the Building Industry, a BuilderBook publication. 773.769.4409. E-mail: [email protected]