Forget the Elevator Speech: Sharing Your Value Through Stories
December 19, 2016 @ 3:09 pm by ACT
With the holiday season under way, many of us will have a chance to meet with extended family, friends, and loved ones. Often, it can be difficult to start a conversation around financial planning with family and friends. You want to offer them help and ideally have them become a client. At the same time, you don’t want to seem pushy or come across as leveraging the relationship just to get an account. The best way to do this is by sharing stories.
As a speaker and coach who travels the country extensively, I get the opportunity to speak to thousands of advisors, managers and staff every year. I often do repeat engagements and when I see former participants they rarely say, “I heard you last year and I remember that concept you shared on _______.” Rather, almost 100% of the time, they say something like, “I heard you last year and I remember that story you told about _______.”
Stories are powerful. They stay with us, they move us and they persuade us. Stories tend to hit both the logical and emotional parts of the brain and represent the historical way that humans have shared information across the ages. Stories can be humorous or serious, but one thing they have to be is effective. So what makes for a good story?
To be highly effective, a story needs to contain the following:
- A protagonist – someone to whom the person listening to the story can relate
- An antagonist – what challenge is the protagonist up against?
- The critical moment – what was the “aha,” what is the meaning behind the story?
- The transformation – what changed and what was the impact?
Let me give you an example that was effective for my business. I had a friend who was a major decision-maker at his business who had never hired me despite knowing what I do for a living. I always wondered, “why didn’t he bring me into his company?” At the same time, it felt uncomfortable to try to sell him on my value. Plus, since we attended church together, I just felt uncomfortable pursuing him too aggressively.
One night while sharing a nice Cabernet on my deck, my friend asked me how work was going and I shared the following:
It has been going great. In fact, I have had some interesting challenges lately. A couple of weeks ago I was with a group of managers in financial services doing a two-day program on coaching skills. The first day was going poorly. Participants were negative, distracted on their cell phones and doing a lot of whispering to each other. It got so distracting that I had to stop the session and just ask them what was going on. It turns out that they had just gotten their new compensation plan and they were pretty upset about it. There were also some major disappointing changes in the firm announced over email during the session.
Once they shared this, I threw out the entire presentation and instead started an interactive session on successfully navigating change. I did some venting techniques with them, let them express their skepticism and eventually got them to focus on some things they could control. By the end of the session they were doing better and expressed gratitude that we could go off script and meet them where they were in the moment. The second day went extremely well, as they were focused and positive.
The day after sharing that story my friend called me and said, “You know, we are going through a lot of change in my firm and I would like to bring you in to help us lead through that change.”
That win-win result did not come from me sharing my value proposition in a canned way, but rather from a genuine story of a real event told with passion and conviction.
If we break the story down:
- Protagonist – the managers in the session
- Antagonist – massive change in the organization
- Critical moment – meeting the participants where they were in order to lead them out of it
- Transformation – they were grateful and the next day they were more positive and able to focus
I encourage you to use this article to create a handful of stories (protecting client confidentiality of course) that you could share with connections during the holiday season. The most effective place to start is to think about times you have helped your clients avoid making major mistakes and/or times you went beyond the call of duty for your clients.
Create some powerful stories and you will discover how effective they can be in inspiring the right conversations around financial planning with those close to you this season.
By Dr. Tim Ursiny
CEO & Founder
Advantage Coaching & Training, Inc.