Five Tools in the Toolbox

by Doug Foster on March 12, 2011

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Ask any master craftsman – all will tell you that besides experience and skill, you need the right tool for the job.

Successful convincing happens when you know the process and you know your tools. Convince Me! teaches you the process.

Now let’s open the toolbox and learn about your tools: a plan, your story, proof, an experience, and a guarantee. These are your power tools; one tool for each step of the process.

Five tools you need in your toolbox:

A plan

You need a plan. Selling is like taking your buyer on a trip. How will you get them from their position – point A – to your position – point B? Start at your destination and work backwards. Why would they want to go? What sites do they want or need to see? How long is it; a short jaunt or a lengthy tour? Big sales need big plans, small sales need small plans.

Here’s a few planning resources. Need a long term plan? Consider The Art of the Long View. Need to make some smart choices? How about A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions. Persuade some critics? Read How to Argue and Win Every Time.

Learn more about strategy: read Plan the Trip.

Your story

Every buyer wants to hear your story. YOUR story is unique. It should be informative, entertaining, maybe even inspirational. Your buyer needs to know: who are you, what are you selling, when can they have it, where can they get it, why is it better than the competition, how does it solve their problem, and how much does it cost?

A story is your most versatile tool. Don’t copy someone else’s story and change a few words, tell YOUR story. Need inspiration? Go with me to the National Storytelling Festival next Fall. What IS a story? Browse The Screenwriter’s Bible. Need a role model? Learn from the Master Communicator: Talk Like Jesus.

Learn why telling a great story is so critical: read Tell Your Story.

The proof

A story without proof is just a story. A story with proof becomes a convincing argument. How do you prove what you said is true? You can use facts and numbers to substantiate your claims. You can let others testify how your product, service, or point-of-view has helped them. You could also use a demonstration; seeing is believing!

Several years ago I helped sell a new technology – Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephones. VoIP phones were new – and scary to seasoned telephone administrators. When we told our story with PowerPoint; they liked it. But when we had them make calls with the new phones; they loved it!

Learn why and how to prove your story: read Show Proof.

An experience

If seeing is believing, trying is buying. To really convince your buyer, engage them with an unforgettable experience. A great experience uses the power of emotion to create memories that last long after the details and facts of a story are forgotten. Deciding is logical, buying is emotional. Would you buy a car without a test drive?

When we sold VoIP telephones, we could have had customers sit back and just WATCH a demonstration. Instead, we asked THEM to make the calls. When they talked live to their colleagues – they smiled in astonishment and their doubt went away.

Learn why nothing beats a great experience: read Try It.

Your guarantee

A happy buyer is your best salesperson. An unhappy buyer is your worst nightmare. If you have a strong story and believable proof, a “completely satisfied” guarantee can “completely convince” your buyer. Your guarantee can also satisfy an unhappy buyer. Remember, your goal is a long-term relationship with your buyers. Short-sighted sellers sell short.

Put it in writing. Who has?” FedEx: “You can count on FedEx reliability. We have a remarkable on-time delivery record, and we back FedEx Express® shipments — and FedEx Ground® shipments within the U.S. and to Canada — with a money-back guarantee.“, Travelocity: “From the price, to the room, to the trip; we guarantee …“, and Match.com: “Make Love Happen” to name a few.

Learn why a satisfied buyer is so important: read Satisfy Completely.

. . . . .

Follow the Idea Mechanic and I’ll talk non-stop about these five tools:

Let’s wrap-up and pull it all together: read Five Skills of an Idea Mechanic.

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