ABC. Always be closing. Everyone in sales has heard that line. It’s taken as truth in the sales world. But here’s the thing: It’s completely wrong. In fact, the “always be closing” approach to sales is the enemy of persuasion. It may have worked in the past, but today’s low-trust world demands an entirely different approach.

Persuasion isn’t about coercing your audience to do what you want. Rather, it’s about attracting them to a particular conclusion, and letting them get there on their own. Being pulled is always preferable to being pushed. And one way to draw someone to your position is by engaging your audience’s emotions through that most human of activities — storytelling.

Consider this approach to selling through storytelling: Identify the goal (who are your characters, and what do they want?), the obstacle (what’s in those characters’ way?), and the resolution (what’s the preferred outcome?). This format works equally well in a 30-second commercial, an in-person sales pitch, or just a conversation with a customer.

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