You can learn a lot about asking for what you want from people who’ve made you reach for your wallet. Such was the case for me in San Francisco, as I succumbed to two pleas from panhandlers, even after ignoring dozens of others. What was it about these pitches that was so effective?
In short, they were masterful storytellers.
Knowing how to tell a story can be an effective way to evoke empathy and to get what you want. First, grab their attention. Then, give them a reason to care. And, finally, get them to take action.
What are the implications for you in your business? Here are a couple of situations where you can put this advice to work:
When interviewing for a new project, don’t forget to say what this opportunity means to you … and ask for the job. Clients have told me they select individuals who are not only qualified but also authentic, enthusiastic, and relatable—all qualities of a good storyteller. And similarly, when you need to ask clients to pay up or to pay more, they are much more likely to say yes when you give them a reason, describe the situation personally, and make a specific request … just as successful panhandlers do.
Craft a compelling story and tell it well. As the storyteller, be bold, be different, but be yourself. Know that the power of your words can make a remarkable difference, as illustrated in this impactful 100-second video.