I’ll never forget my second big speaking gig; I was barely in business a year and was having a major case of impostor syndrome.
I was so nervous to speak to women entrepreneurs from New York City!
What could I teach these women CEOs about branding their businesses through social media?
But all I had to do was embrace storytelling and I was able to meet four women who have since asked for, or sent me, business.
And trust me, you can too.
Start With Their Story
If it’s possible, I like to ask questions before I ever open my mouth.
I mean, how many times have you listened to someone drone on and on about their stuff? On the daily, I’m sure!
Encourage them to embrace storytelling first — it not only shows you’re interested in what they do, but it’s rare these days.
While this isn’t always possible, it certainly helps to understand the person/people you’re speaking with.
For instance, my tone may have changed a bit if I was speaking to a room full of CEOs who were men versus women.
Call me sexist, but I wouldn’t speak to those groups in the same way.Here are some great lead-in questions to ask your audience ...Click To Tweet
- What are your likes?
- What are your dislikes?
- What are your responsibilities?
- What interests you about [your industry/what you’re selling/what you do]?
If we’re speaking directly to sales, think about asking questions like:
- What does a “win” look like for you?
- How does your company define success?
- What differentiates you/your company from competitors?
- What does your company do that no one else does?
[Questions source: Action Selling]Ask these 8 questions and better your sales pitch.Click To Tweet
If you put yourself in your customer’s shoes and start answering those questions, you can see how they give you a keen insight into how you should tell your story.
Telling Your Story
If you have to tell your story first, consider your audience.
In my situation, with a room full of women CEOs, I decided to get heartfelt AND give an “anyone can do social” pitch.
I did this by telling my (very true) story of coming to fall in love with social media as a non-profit fundraiser who was tasked with creating an event that young professionals would want to attend … all in under six months.
And how I did this by utilizing Facebook to spread the word and get in front of a younger audience.
Which led to 7,500 attendees and nearly $60,000 in raised funds.
For me, Facebook was saving lives. For you, it may save your brand or business.
The key wasn’t that my story was a bit of a tear jerker. The pivotal “ah ha” moment came because:
- It was a true story
- I had authentic passion telling the story
- The story had actionable results
- The steps to success felt repeatable/within reach
- Get emotional (not that way … create desire)
- Get real (use a real story or real-world example)
- Show the steps (or at least, make it easy)
- Don’t forget your call-to-action
- Embrace storytelling as an interactive event
Let’s dive into #5 and interactive storytelling a little further.
Embrace Storytelling In An Interactive Way
What I mean by storytelling in an interactive way is to make sure your sales
pitch story is a two-way conversation (another rarity!).
I asked questions during my story with the women CEO group like …
“Has anyone heard of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation?” (few had)
“How many of you are actively involved with charity?”
By doing this I was tying them to the story and attempting to make an emotional appeal.
I also kept it interactive and pushed the “reset” button on their attention span — hopefully, no one was wandering off, but if they were, a quick Q&A session with me and the group should have recaptured their awareness.
Remember to take pause while telling your story and ask questions that can help you better understand your would-be customer or tie them to your story’s outcome.
Revisit the sales questions we started with and see how you can use those.
Here are a couple of examples:
“… so that was my BIG win for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation using social media. Have you had a big win with your comany and social yet?”
“… The Foundation defines new event success as making at least $5,000 your first year, but we hit over $50,000! How do(es) you/your team/this project define goals and tie those to successes?”
The Best Sales
Pitch Story Tip
Use your emotional appeal to get remembered.
Because in a sea of sameness, that’s the one thing people (and competitors) can’t rip off, steal, or take from you: your story.
How will you embrace storytelling this year? With sales or branding (or otherwise!)? I’d love to know! Give me a shout out in the comments below.
Latest posts by Brooke B. Sellas (see all)
- Is SMS Messaging Costing Your Brand CX Points? - May 17, 2023
- The Difference Between Community Management & Social Media Customer Support - April 19, 2023
- Automated Customer Service Could Crush Your Business - March 22, 2023
So much great advice in this post Brooke! But the most important advice you included was to be empathetic of your customer/audience. Providing context that they can easily understand and relate to makes the difference in truly connecting.
Thank you, Josh! Seems so obvious, doesn’t it? Too bad it isn’t always that way. You hit on a HUGE keyword: CONTEXT. That could be a post on its own. Want to write it for us?? LOL!
If you’re asking, them absolutely 😉
Thanks Brooke. My key takeaway is: Get real (use a real story or real-world example). That way you can be authentic and can tell the story with passion.
Thank YOU, Wambui! Glad you love that one (I do, too). Real-world examples are SOOOOOOO much better than the hypothetical. And easier, too! 🙂