I had walked upstairs to give my ten-year-old a hug and tell him good night, when he said, “Every time I try to talk about the things I like, like Rocky or karate, everybody goes ‘Ugh!’”
His voice quivered and his eyes began to tear as he spoke about what was happening at school.
“I listen to them when they talk about the things they like, but they don’t listen to me.”
“When one of your friends starts talking about something they like, do you ask questions and talk about their thing?” I asked. “Or do you start talking about something you like?”
Can you guess what he said?
I’ve had similar conversations with adults too.
It typically starts like this, “We need to do more marketing.” Or, “We need a story that demonstrates the value we bring.”
Their underlying story says, “If others would just pay attention and listen, they would better understand what we do. And they would appreciate what we offer.”
I’m leading a workshop later this week. The group is getting eaten alive by the competition in their market.
I don’t believe they have a marketing problem. Or a sales problem. They have a story problem — they aren’t living a story that invites prospects in. No white rabbit, you could say.
They’re too busy selling, instead of helping prospects buy. They barrage them with talk of their process and terms, rather than listen to what prospects actually want and value.
So what do think my son said?
When I asked him that question — do you typically join your friends in their interests or do you talk about your own — he admitted (not immediately, mind you) that he tended to talk only about the things he liked. “The things they want to talk about are boring,” he said. At least he’s honest!
Marketers, sales professionals and fundraisers tend to talk too much about their interests too.
As a connective storyteller, you can help.
Introduce this question in your next client or team meeting:
Are we spending our time trying to sell prospects, or help them buy?”
Amazon decided, many years ago, they were in the “helping customers buy” business.
That’s a story more organizations should live, as well.