I often learn from entrepreneurs and I discovered a lot about storytelling and leadership recently during the Florida State Minority Development Council’s expo. On today’s episode of The Sales Evangelist, we’ll hear from two of the entrepreneurs I met there.
The best leaders learn from past leaders, whether the leadership was good or bad. CJ Latimore and Gustavo Hermida work in two different industries, but the things they share here apply no matter what industry you’re selling in.
CJ Latimore is a public art specialist who characterizes his work as “telling stories through architecture and urban development.” He says it’s about hanging on to cultural icons even after certain buildings have been torn down.
He boils it down to adding a soul to buildings. It’s one thing to have a building that’s structurally sound but CJ believes it’s vital to track the communities and demographics that existed in the building before it was torn down. Very often, when a building is torn down to make way for something new, the previous demographic is forgotten. So is their story.
CJ says it’s possible to tell a story without saying a single word, and he points to art as the mechanism.
We must bring people together more efficiently and create a sense of timelessness along the way. Begin by getting people to hear your story.
Sales reps often try to add value to the company without even knowing anything about you or developing rapport with you.
Consider this situation from a business etiquette perspective. If you don’t know me and you don’t know what my story is about, how can you act to help me? How can you add value?
CJ’s mission is to build images to help people get what they want in a prestigious way. When he shares that with people, they often ask to hear more. And when you can get people to say they want to hear more, they’re ready for your story.
He said his biggest challenge was lack of awareness. Because the human brain is hard-wired to think about food, shelter, and clothing, stories that don’t incorporate those ideas can get lost.
The answer, he said, is to be creative. Tell a story that will make people focus on something else even briefly.
In this case, many people don’t readily know what they can do with art. Perhaps it doesn’t make sense to them. They don’t go to shows or museums.
The trick is to incorporate your uniqueness and associate it with food, shelter, and clothing.
Survival and storytelling
Everyone has pain and the quickest way to get someone to listen to you is to provide a solution to help their pain go away. You’ll have their immediate attention because no one wants to be in pain.
If you can share a way to save money, save time, or educate your prospect about saving money or time, that’s what everyone wants.
People want more time with their family and more time for vacation. Your job is to stop people in their tracks with the solutions you offer.
People will remember you more if you’re unique and if there’s something about you that’s meaningful.
If it’s true that the brain has as many as 300 impulses per minute, you have to find a way to engage three or four of those with your story.
Other people telling your story
When you can get other people to tell your story for you, that’s an indication that you have a great story and that you’ve told your story well. People love to spread a good story.
Since the beginning of time, people have shared the greatest historical events through story.
Start with your story and turn it into a community story. Own your story. Compile multiple stories that work and make them your own. Make them exceptional. Give people the results that they need.
Gustavo Hermida said that his biggest struggle has always been aligning his company with the right people who will carry the company’s values forward. His goal is to find people with integrity who make a promise and then deliver on it. It’s important because people often distrust salespeople automatically.
But people are people, and buying people are people.
He has built a career on putting himself in other people’s shoes to understand what will help the other person feel comfortable making a decision or able to move a partnership forward.
Finding the right people
He expanded his search to include looking elsewhere for the right people. Although previous experience was a welcome factor, it wasn’t the main qualifier he was looking for.
He discovered that he preferred hiring the right person and then forming that person.
Gustavo started the company with zero base and limited financial resources. Over the last two years, the company has made the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in America.
He caters to small startup companies because when it comes to multifunction equipment, sometimes leasing companies won’t offer financing to companies until they’re fully established.
He helps those companies build their own credit, which has catapulted his company in terms of growth.
Gustavo advises being very careful about the people that are working for you. Ensure that they share your company values. Build a team of different ages and different backgrounds.
Motivation comes in many different forms, but find people who are self-motivated. Build a team you’re proud to work with.
“Storytelling and Leadership” episode resources
You can connect with CJ at www.myuniqueawards.com.
Connect with me at email@example.com.
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