Your business is your passion. It’s been years in the making, you kicking around ideas late into the night, scribbling notes into journals, sketching out business plans and prototypes. You want to stand out. You want to be different and make an impact.
But then a day comes when those ideas take the shape of a pitch. You are sitting down at coffee with a potential investor or stake holder and something happens to all your dreams and ideas—they fall flat. The person you are talking to seems engaged, but the conversation ends the same; they aren’t buying what you are selling. Sure they seem excited for you, but they aren’t stepping up to invest or be a part of making your dream become a reality.
This was me too. I’d have meeting after meeting, lots of coffee, smiling and laughing… but all for naught. The same results. No one seemed to want to commit to anything.
Until I changed my approach.
Let’s start with what I was doing wrong first:
I was so excited about my startup and all the time my team spent laying out our vision and values, that I figured of course everyone else wanted to hear what kept us up at night as well. More times than not people thought our ideas were good.
However here is the problem:
What kept me up at night wasn’t what kept my customers up at night.
Here’s the principle I needed to wrap my brain around: I’m not the hero of the story, my customer is.
Out of defeat and discouragement I accidentally learned the right way to engage with my customer!
What I did right (the second time around) by accident:
I ditched the vision and values altogether. After my first go at things I wasn’t even sure if they were going to work! After all, I wasn’t seeing people adopting my ideas for themselves.
And out of humility I started to just say, “So tell me about you. What are you struggling with?"
And guess what happened? As I stopped talking about everything I wanted to talk about, I actually heard about the things that kept my customer up at night! As they talked I realized, “Wow! I think I could help them succeed.”
When I put myself second, and them first, I suddenly started having more and more follow up meetings than I ever had before! People started to become interested in what I was selling!
I used to actually get frustrated, when using my first method, if I couldn’t get through all 6 of my organization's values! Why do they keep taking my pitch a different direction! They need to hear about why we are so awesome!
“Building a StoryBrand” by Donald Miller explains that the customer should always be the hero of the story and our brand should be the guide that helps them win the day. If we are the guide, we ought to know the stories that keep our customers up at night.
In “The Conversion Code” by Chris Smith, a book about sales, Chris talks about how sales is listening. The best salespeople are able to “go deeper” with the people they are selling and connect to their emotion. "Why do you want to build a new deck?” “Oh you want to throw parties in your backyard! Sounds fun.” But dig deeper, there is more in this conversation. “What kind of parties are you throwing? Sounds like your place is going to be a lot of fun.” “Oh you love having your extended family over every summer for special holiday get togethers!”
And there you have it. The emotional connection to why they want to buy. They care about special moments with their family.
Keep asking questions and keep listening for the things they care about!
Here is the main principle to apply to all of your business, whether it’s in sales calls, on your website, in your emails, or anything you have that requires words:
Always position your brand as the guide and your customer as the hero.
Make this change and you will start making more sales!