Picture yourself as a high school student who is exceptionally good at football. In walks a college football coach. He is going to try to convince you to join his program.
He tells you:
- We have won 2 conference championships in the past 5 years
- We send players to the NFL every year
- We have a nationally ranked academic program
- We have an exiting and growing college campus
- We play in front of 80,000+ people
All of that’s good and important, but it’s boring. You’re not inspired. You’re not interested.
The next coach comes in, talking about a similar, equally strong, college football program. The difference is he makes a personal connection. He has your mom and dad telling him stories about you. Everyone is laughing. He asks you what you’re looking for in a college and sounds like he really wants to know.
Then he tells a story:
“Our first game next year is September 7th. You will run out that tunnel wearing your number 10. You will look into the crowd and your mom, dad, and brother will be there, along with 80,000 screaming fans. You will have just come off a week of training, practicing and studying, but you will have an opportunity to play for a conference and national championship. It will be hard. You have to show up ready to work, and not just on the football field, but in the weight room and classroom, too. We built this program for a player like you. You are what this college program needs to succeed. We want YOU, son.”
You look over and your parents—always emotional–are crying. You can picture everything the coach is saying and you feel inspired by his story. You aren’t ready to commit just yet, but deep down, you know you have just found the place where you’ll be going to college.
Now come back to reality. You’re not a teenager and maybe you can’t play football at all, but you do know business. Next time you hear a company representative speak, listen to how they talk about their employer: we are the ranked in the top 5 of this; we received that award; we’ve had the top-selling product for the past year; we have been in business for 20 years. We, We, We. Statement, Statement, Statement.
More like boring, boring, boring. You don’t really respond to that kind of approach any more than a young football player would, do you?
When it’s your turn to talk about your business, don’t make the same mistake. Obviously you need a great program, a great product, to begin with, but that’s not enough to make you stand out from the competition. You need to help your prospect engage emotionally and you do that by talking about your prospect, not just about yourself. Ask them about their hopes and dreams. Show them how working with you can help them realize their dreams—and why you need them to help you realize yours. Tell them a story so they can picture it.
You might not see it right away, but they’ll be inspired.