Folks often tell me, “Frank, this business is easy for you. You have such a great story.”
Truth is, this business is no easier or harder for me than for anyone else. We all have a great story. We just need to recognize this, make our story compelling, and make it relevant to our target audience.
Our story is most often related to our why, our reason for doing the business. In most cases, money is probably the hook that attracts people. In my case it was time.
I grew up with humble means and was self-supporting by the age of fifteen. After surviving a combat tour in Vietnam I was driven to be successful not only to overcome the austerity of my youth but for all those I served with who didn’t survive. By my late thirties I had been a single parent for ten years, was half way up the corporate ladder, and had concurrently owned several diverse successful businesses. I was driving a top-of-the-line Mercedes sedan, sported a gold Rolex Presidential with a diamond face, and had built my own home. When I was forty I married the girl of my dreams. We moved to a 200-year-old mansion on an estate overlooking a historic town nestled in the valley below. I continued to climb the corporate ladder and was now earning an above-mid-six-figure income. We were debt-free. Money was not an issue.
Now for my story as told to prospects:
Insidiously, corporate America and my businesses had stolen my life. I loved the competition for and the thrill of winning multimillion-dollar contracts, but the game was on 24/7, thirty days a month. I was never home. My kids were grown and gone, and my wife was sitting at home alone. What kind of a husband was I? When I awoke in Kansas one morning and had no clue where I was, I realized the money was not worth it. I resigned that day. Ironically we had no money in the bank because we had purchased prime real estate based on commissions I had earned which the company, a multibillion-dollar corporation, later reneged on paying me. We liquidated our life savings satisfying that debt before we were able to sell the property.
At age forty-eight, all I wanted out of life was to be with my wife. Money and the stuff it would bring were insignificant to the time I was losing with my bride. I was done with corporate America, and I wasn’t going back to the headaches of running a traditional business—employees, overhead, spoilage, lawsuits, and so on. I decided I wanted to work out of my home, a very unusual concept at the time for someone with my background. I thought maybe I could become a manufacturer’s rep of some sort when I heard of the network marketing profession. I soon realized that I could own a million-dollar business with ten cents worth of headaches. Within three years I was earning nearly a million dollars a year annualized.
It is often said that “people lead to people” and “it’s not who you know, but who they know.” That’s true, but I built the foundation of my business somewhat differently. I targeted successful traditional business owners. In a business that’s built on belief, they already had the belief and self-confidence that they would be successful at anything they did—and they had the work ethic to make it happen. What they didn’t have was time freedom, because like me, their lives were shackled by their businesses. If they didn’t already realize it, my story was designed to awaken them to the fact that the sand was whistling through the hourglass. It was later than they realized. They could always get more money, but time, once gone, is gone forever.
The pay plan in the company I have represented for the past twenty-one years is binary, meaning the base starts with two lines of distribution or sales organizations rather than ten to fifteen as in most traditional multilevel companies. I relate the story to what I did in my first regional management position. I worked for the largest electronics company in the world and was tasked with building a sales organization in Baltimore and one in Washington, D.C. I started by hiring a sales manager for each location and helped them build their sales teams. My company’s structure is no different. This made it relatable.
I am a big proponent of using a third party in presentations, whether on the phone or in person. Folks often make the mistake of thinking that to validate the efficacy of the business they need someone successful to be that third party. In reality, it’s the story they need—and the story can come from anyone. I have often used other prospects:
“Bob, I’d like to introduce you to Jack. Like you, Jack is also looking at the business. Jack, why don’t you tell Bob why you are looking at the business?”
Without fail, Bob and Jack’s reasons will be similar or awaken some thought in Bob’s mind that he really did need a plan B. At the same time, Jack, by telling his story, is reinforcing his own need to change his life.
A variation could be, “Jack, tell Bob what you’ve found since you’ve been investigating the company.”
If you’ve built your organization with successful people instead of mirror foggers and you’ve taken Jack to a business presentation where he has had a chance to talk with successful people, his story will sell.
Obviously stories or testimonials on products or business experiences are invaluable. Fabrication and embellishment are not necessary and signal a lack of confidence.
Remember, all you are trying to do is establish common ground. Stick to the truth, come from the heart, and keep your story short and to the point. Your story however is just the starting point designed to stimulate the prospect’s thinking process. The real story is the prospect’s, his or her reason for looking at the business. What do they want out of life? If they don’t have a solid reason or why and can’t wrap it around a compelling story, you’re wasting your time. Next.
FRANK J. KEEFER is a veteran networker and Publisher Emeritus of Networking Times. He is the author of several books, including Reflections of a Master
and The Tao of Success.