Amplify your voice to influence major decisions and win more deals
Grit. Passion. Energy. Chaos. Tech. Hustle.
These are the words that come to mind when I think of Vietnam. It is the country of my parents, and although I was born in Canada, as a Viet-Kieu I feel this deep connection to Vietnam. This feeling was reinforced when I had the honour to host the inaugural Echelon Conference in Ho Chi Minh City.
It truly exudes the vibe of the ‘next tech dragon’ to me (and I’ve lived in many countries!). Vietnam is on the upward path, yet it still faces a major challenge.
I’ve worked with dozens of startups and met hundreds of others, across a variety of industries like fintech, e-commerce, edtech, physical products, F&B, and more. What I often encounter are super smart, talented, and hard working people. They are truly experts and show a certain a level of grit that others may lack. Yet there is still something missing.
They struggle to wow the world.
A game to not only to win cash, but to win hearts
“To win the attention of the investors and community, you have to be talented and skilful, but you have to able to introduce yourself and what you are doing with an inspirational message. Shark Tank [and the startup world] is a game to not only WIN CASH, but to WIN HEARTS. You have to show authority and credibility, and to inspire the investors, the team, customers, and community. You have to draw them into your dream, your hunger, and what you are doing to make a better world.”
I wholeheartedly agree. For me, I see the potential. I see the path to the future, but too many people I meet lack this critical capability and skill set. The ability to WOW. The ability to amplify their success and voice. And this is often related to the ability to RELATE or EMPATHISE.
To wow (and thereby influence) your investors, clients, or the world, you have to be able to read them. You need to understand how they think, interact socially, and even how they use your product. You need to understand them both cognitively and emotionally. Only then can you create a product that is truly inspiring, and you can successfully communicate that out to your market and beyond (think Steve Jobs!).
If we learn to work with these crucial stakeholders, and draw in angel and seed investors, success is likely to come that much easier.
[It] is very crucial when it comes to understanding other’s stories and questions
The Vietnam Winner of Echelon 100Startup Pitch, Marketing Director Lenka Nguyen of DesignBold, knows this. I watched her pitch and how she handle the tough grilling. I was impressed. She had a good product (so did everyone else), but she handled the grilling the best – with poise, authority and credibility. This is what she shared with me afterwards:
“I’ve always been an active listener. I listen to what others have to say and see things from their perspectives. I think that is very crucial when it comes to understanding other’s stories and questions. Sometimes it’s worth it raising a rhetorical question against the judges. Judges are sometimes just trying to test us. So, stay calm and ask them back. ;-)”
I love the smiley face. She made that face in real life after flipping some questions back to the judges. It was a simple way to be endearing and likeable. It amplified her status and made me smile (and I’m sure it worked on the judges and investors too!).
With all this in mind, I thought I would share some of the training I do with senior executives of investment banks and startups to amplify their voices to influence major decisions and win more deals.
The 6 principles of persuasion
I’m going to share about the work of Robert Cialdini, the father of the art of influence, and how his six principles of persuasion can work to build better relationships and influence outcomes for your business.
It’s easy to get caught up in the doings of daily business. You’ve got to be able to pivot your attention from your investors to your team to your customers and back again both wilfully and reactively. As you’re reading each of these, consider how you can implement them for each stakeholder group.
Scarcity: People love things they can’t (or think they can’t) have
Cultivate a feeling of scarcity, and you’re likely to see results. Customers and clients will do a lot to gain an uncommon or rare advantage — whether that’s a new physical product (think iPhone) or new knowledge.
If potential customers realise there is a limited opportunity to engage with you (or your product), they are more likely to get on board. What does this mean for startups? Look at limited releases, or time-bound incentives. Mark Sisson harnessed the art of scarcity just this week by offering ‘limited-time only’ specials for those who purchased his new book. Make sure you’re offering genuinely scarce products, or follow through on timing cut offs, or customers will see straight through your efforts.
Likability: People buy what they like
Likability is all about getting people on board with your brand or product. Think about Optus Dan.He generated a flurry of goodwill toward Optus, the Australian telco, even though the brand was being barraged by complaints. Dan was in charge of responding to complaints on Facebook and his responses were seen as “refreshing and human.”
By being authentic and likeable, Dan singlehandedly pushed the brand into the international news cycle. Well-loved brands can build an emotional attachment over time. A friend of mine once built up such a strong association with a self-care brand that she felt guilty if she used another (even if no-one else knew!).
How can your brand make more friends? Make videos with approachable, relatable people using your product. Build an amazing ‘About Us’ page (and share your story!) — it helps everyone to engage with you on a deeper level and grounds the customer experience before getting to know your product.
Authority: People trust the experts
If you’re viewed as an authority, people will be more inclined to trust you. From teachers, to police officers, to other figures of authority, they have a certain amount of sway and influence over us (regardless if they are correct or even legitimate). In Asia, we all know this message quite often. The power of authority helps us navigate difficult decisions, even if they can be dangerous ones (like the Milgram experiment).
So, how do you communicate authority? It’s not just about power here; It’s about showing that you’re in a position of knowledge and influence. Learning how to build authority and influence is quite an advanced technique. But, I have a simple short-cut to help you get started.
Use authority by association. Any brand that uses an endorsement of a celebrity or elite athlete is borrowing their authority and hoping that customers will associate the two in a positive way.
You’re aiming to become top of mind when people talk about your area. Align with authorities by producing reliably excellent products or information. If you’re going to use full stack credibility as a method of building transparency and authenticity, do it well.
Social proof: If others use it, it must be good!
People do what they observe other people doing. It’s a fact, and well known public experiments have shown hilarious examples of how well it overrides people’s normal social behaviour. Connect with this powerful message and use it to your advantage. High numbers of likes and followers on social media tell customers that engaging with you is a good idea. Sharing your content is an endorsement of your brand so encourage it by creating shareable, valuable videos or articles. Reassure your investors, too, with confirmation that what you’re doing is popular and valuable.
Also, testimonials are SUPER effective. Create a database of testimonials by rolling out a limited beta release to select members of your market and asking for honest feedback. Channel this data into your website or product review page — wherever is most effective for you. When you launch, you’ll have ready proof that your product is liked by others. Watch your sales skyrocket.
Commitment/consistency: Who we are today are who we will likely be tomorrow
People like to be seen to be true to their word. Being consistent and meeting commitments signals reliability and trustworthiness. This can encourage connections beyond when an offer expires or an obligation ends. Work this desire for consistency into your business by offering trials of your product or service for a reduced price, or free.
Often customers will stay on board with you (at full price) because they want to be seen (subconsciously) to be living up to their commitment. If you can get these commitments to be shared publicly (such as social media), you’re even more likely to see a higher retention rate. Make this work with your team members and investors too, by showing them consistency in delivery of updates, results and kindness.
Reciprocity: Scratch my back & I’ll scratch yours
Remember Mark Sisson, the guy I mentioned earlier? He can also show us a thing or two about reciprocity. He’s made the entire first chapter of his book available for free. Anyone who reads that chapter is going to feel that it would be a good idea to buy the book, almost to say thanks for giving them so much for nothing.
How can you harness the same idea? A common way startups do this is to create a top notch ebook to offer in exchange for a customer email address. Create excellent content and give it away. This works for team members, too. Giving them support will establish a reciprocal cycle of going the extra mile.
If you incorporate these principles, you’ll get your team invested in the mission of the business. Your customers will buy in with their dollars and their emotional connection and their social profiles too. You’re far more likely to connect to your investors in a meaningful way, and garner new investors too. Connect using these six principles and you’ll see the results in your bottom line in no time.
This article shares very advanced level examples of the skills and techniques I’ve mentioned. These techniques are used by senior executives and marketing companies galore. These skills are learnable. Go out! Learn them, try them. And if you need someone to give you the short-cuts and guide you, perhaps you can recall Amplify Influence, and we can help.
Kimble helps companies and professionals become more BADASS (more confident, powerful, and awesome) at work. He focuses on training and coaching on communication, empathy, and leadership skills that is directly applicable to everyday business.
He has trained senior executives in Investment Banks, government officials, and plenty of start-up talent. He enjoys helping the little guy take on the scary world so that they can make the world a better place.
The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, submit your post here.
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