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?
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.
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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media management & advertising agency. She's also the Co-host of The Marketing Companion podcast with Mark Schaefer, where they discuss jaw-dropping marketing trends. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout!
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