The 3 stories you must know when pitching, presenting or persuading people

Posted on February 5th, by Dr Rob Yeung .

How can you win people over?audience

I recently ran seminars for two groups on a similar topic. The first was a class of business students with goals of setting themselves up as entrepreneurs, aiming to sell their products and services either to other businesses or perhaps home consumers. The second was a group of experienced travel agents who wanted to improve their ability to sell luxury holidays to their clients.

In both cases, I told them that they needed to be very aware of the 3 stories involved in making a successful connection with people – whether that’s in a one-to-one conversation or when pitching or presenting to a roomful of people. Here are three questions to think about:

1. What’s your client’s/customer’s/audience’s story?
To be be able to win someone over, you need to understand the story that your customer/client/audience is telling themselves. Imagine that they are halfway through a story. What does the happy ending of that story look like?

For example, a customer who is interested in buying an insurance product may be interested in having security for his family and peace of mind. A client who is thinking about buying an exotic holiday may be looking for an experience that she can tell her friends and family about for years to come.

So what would a happy ending look like for your customer, client or audience? What would be a good outcome or even a great result? Often, the best way to figure out someone’s story is to ask them directly. Consider questions such as “In a year’s time, what would you consider a great result?” or “What would help you to feel that today had been a successful day?”

If you’re presenting to a roomful of people, you may not be able to ask them. In that situation, you may need to make a guess as to what most people are looking for.

2. What success stories can you tell?
Before you meet with customers, clients or your audience, think about examples of how your products or services have helped other people. Many sales people find that it’s useful to jot down a few notes summarising some of the best success stories that they have.

Then, when you meet new customers, clients or audiences, you can share a story that as closely as possible matches the needs of each particular customer, client or audience. For instance, if you are meeting with an older woman customer, you should tell her a story about how you helped another older woman customer. If you can’t, then at least use an example about a woman or perhaps at least an older man. Or, if you are dealing with a corporate client, think about the type of organisation you are selling to. If your client is a small business specialising in business-to-business sales, then use as your example a story about a small business specialising in business-to-business sales.

As far as possible, try to match the success story or stories you tell to the background and situation of each person or group you encounter.

3. What’s your personal story?
Finally, what motivates you? Whether you are an entrepreneur or a corporate sales person, you are almost certain to get asked why you got into your particular line of work.

Don’t just say it’s because of the money! So have a think about your personal story. What interested you about your field of expertise? What caused you to work on this product or service?

The most successful entrepreneurs and sales people can say convincingly why they are fascinated or even excited by their line of work. Can you?

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