Why Your Founding Story Is Killing Your Bottom Line
Don’t Tell Your Story, Tell Your Client's
Be honest, you love telling it. You know the story I’m talking about. It’s the founding story of you and your product or service. One day, you couldn’t find the exact website address you were looking for and that’s when you had this idea that became Google. You were fixing something on the wall in your bathroom, fell and hit your head, then woke up with the idea for the flux capacitor (points if you get the reference).
Please, for the love of god, stop telling this story. We, as human beings, are born to care about ourselves. When your acquaintance is telling a story about how it took them five hours to cross the George Washington Bridge this past weekend, what are you really thinking about? I know I’m nodding and being empathetic on the outside, but inside I’m really thinking when is this going to be over and what's for lunch. I don’t care.
This is especially true if the person you’re telling your story to is your prospective client! If you’re selling me something, you better tell a story I care about. And, what do I care about? Myself and my problems.
So, is it cool that your founder was on a beach one day, tripped on a log and decided to invent the face trampoline so no one ever got hurt by face planting again. Sure, that’s cool, and I guess it’s kind of interesting. But, how does your cool interesting story help me? I got my own problems, buddy.
A story about a dog dying is sad, but it’s much sadder when you tell me a story about my dog dying. I’m gonna care a whole lot more. This is your goal going into every meeting. Tell them about their dog, not yours and you will gain instant credibility.
Optometrists were my clients for one of my previous companies. My first few days, I was telling an optometrist how the company was founded and that its mission was to bring young people in to their store. The guy stopped me cold. He said he didn’t want any part of it. I said how can you not want it, I haven't told you anything about it yet?! He did me a huge favor and leveled with me:
You have any idea what’s happening to optometrists right now? We’re getting killed by young people. We make all our money selling frames. It’s not about the exam, it’s about the $200 pair of Dolce and Gabbana Glasses they buy when they’re done. Young people come into the store, get the prescription and the exam, and then go home and buy the frames online. I want nothing to do with young people.
He didn’t buy from me that day, but I took that story and embedded it in my pitch. I would speak with an optometrist and the first thing I would say is here’s what I’m hearing from every single optometrist - they’re getting killed by all of these patients who are coming in, getting fitted for frames and then going home and buying them on the internet. Immediately, I had their attention because I was telling them their story, not mine. And I instantly gained credibility because I wasn’t just some guy trying to sell them, I was a guy who knew what I was talking about.
What my youth hating optometrist didn’t realize is that the patients I brought in generally had better insurances who had a stipend for glasses from their insurance company, so they didn’t care how much they cost because they weren’t footing the bill. When I combined telling them their story with the ending involving my product being the hero, that was the golden ticket that led to a huge increase in sales. And, if you’re not sure what your prospective client's story is, ask them and listen. If you pay attention, they’ll tell you everything you need to know.
Telling a story is good, telling their story is a game changer.