You say you’ve been “Hustling”; you’ve been listening to Gary Vaynerchuk’s podcast, you’ve hired a Fiverr designer to perfect your pitch deck, you’ve scheduled a series of investor meetings and drank five cups of coffee for the dog and pony show and now, it’s game-time… you think you are ready but can you say with unshakable certainty that you will present your company and yourself in the best light possible?
Whether you’re presenting your business on Shark Tank, navigating an investor through your pitch deck or dare I say cold-calling potential investors a-la Boiler-Room style (props for the hustle), your ability to persuade the other side to believe in your business and more so believe in you as The Founder is mission critical.
Competition in every industry is fierce and for your company to even have a chance of getting off the ground, your ability to influence people on an emotional level from the first words that come out of your mouth will be a critical component to your success.
Think about it, when you start a business, you need to influence a series of people in order to: gain the initial investment for capital, hire, train develop and motivate your employees, sell your product or services and negotiate with vendors and landlords. In order for all this to happen, you need to strongly align with people and convince them to believe in your vision and ultimately believe in you.
When I ask angel investors, private equity groups and VC (Venture Capital) firms the main reason why they invest in any given business, usually within their top three answers is their sheer belief in the Founder and Senior Leadership team. “Belief in the Founder?”, where exactly does this belief come from and how is it formed and how is it measured? Certainly, an individual’s previous experience, education and background play a role, however, what genuinely forms this “belief in the founder” is their ability to clearly articulate their vision in an authentic way as well as their ability to influence everyone in the room.
The real question then becomes where does the ability to influence come from and how do you improve your ability to influence others? Few leaders are born a natural influencer, it takes most people a great deal of time over the course of their career to sharpen the saw and truly become a master of influence.
Allow me to break down some of the best proven strategies and techniques for you to focus so you can start fine-tuning your ability to influence:
Be Authentic to Your Company’s Mission
Ever hear the term “fake it till you make it?” This expression is inherently problematic as the very nature of this concept is disingenuous. Entrepreneurs think they have to act a certain way, give the appearance of being successful even when that is not necessarily the case. Those who “fake it till they make it” bastardize the principle of being authentic and do their company a disservice.
In the business world, there needs to be complete congruency between how you live your life and embody your company’s mission. You must become an embodiment of what your company stands for. Company culture stems directly from the leaders in charge of any organization. It truly is the leader’s passion that shapes company culture and also creates a bold statement internally and externally that people are drawn to.
Imagine a weight loss company selling what is marketed to be a revolutionary weight loss pill and with the company priding themselves on results but the company’s CEO is visibly obese and has not lost a single pound of weight since starting the company. Is the CEO planning to “fake it till he makes it” and wear a spandex body suit to hide the excessive rolls of fat that hang over his belt? This is clearly not the embodiment of authenticity.
Now imagine the same weight loss company, where the CEO used to be obese weighing 500 pounds but after starting the company, is down to 250 pounds, has amazing and infectious energy and has managed to keep the weight off since starting the company. He truly believes in his products because he is not only the Founder but he is a client… ;) couldn’t resist
The later scenario makes for a much more compelling and authentic story. Everything about a company reflects who is in charge and the congruency of the actions taken by a company’s leader in parallel to the company’s mission and values is a key component of authenticity.
2. Focus On How you Speak rather than What You Say
When attempting to influence another person, people tend to overthink and neglect to understand what makes the largest impact. People tend to focus solely on the specific words they say rather than how they say it. What is most important is not what you say but rather your physiology (body language) and tonality (the tone of your voice) which combined add up to 93% of the equation in your ability to influence other people.
A professor of Psychology at UCLA Albert Mehrabian, conducted a study on “the relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages” and his research later widely became known as the 7%-38%-55% Rule. The research concluded that in communication, verbal communication is only 7% important, 38% of communication is vocally focused on tonality and 55% is physically focused on physiology.
Think about it, at times people can get into a slump and feel depressed. When someone is depressed, they typically have the same overall physiology (body language): their head is down, shoulders hunched forward, breathing shallow and their voice is low. Simple by making an adjustment to your physiology, you can trigger a shift in your biochemistry and immediately get out of the slump and go from feeling depressed to feeling content. This can happen in the amount of time it takes to snap your fingers. Sound like Hocus Pocus? Keep reading.
Research has also shown that simple changing your body language and striking a power pose (for example putting your hands on your hips like Wonder Women) for two minutes can increase testosterone in both men and women by 20%. There is a great Ted Talk (LINK HERE) with Amy Cuddy, that goes into greater detail on the power of body language.
By focusing on your physiology, especially before and during important meetings, you can actively change your biochemistry and put yourself in a better mode to be more likely to close the deal and get a better desired outcome from the meeting.
Tonality is another important component in your ability to influence someone. For example, if a person from the South who speaks slow and loud is interacting with someone from New York City who speaks fast and soft, there can typically be a break in rapport because of the differences in tonality. If one of the individuals adjusts their tone both in speed and volume to match the other, both individuals will have much better rapport when interacting together. The best sales people do this naturally without even thinking about it. Generally speaking, the reason this works is people on a subconscious level, like other people like them in every shape of the word.
Some may at first label modifying one’s tone to match the person they are dealing with as phony as this is not their normal standard or whats comes naturally to them. However, consider when you visit a foreign country, you make social adjustments to be respectful to the local culture you are visiting. On a similar level as when acclimating to the norms of another culture in a foreign country, adjusting your tone to match the person you are speaking with is actually an act of chivalry and respect. During the course of a business interaction, you want to take advantage of every social etiquette norm that you can to make the other person feel more comfortable with you. Then again, don’t take my word for it, give it a try, it works.
3. SPEAK TO your Audience
Based on the specific person or group of people you are meeting with, you should cater your dialog to their particular level. I can’t tell you how often I see people white label the same presentation with a high degree of technicality for a wide range of people with different aptitudes. It may work for a particular audience but you will bomb for the rest of them. Don’t let this happen to you, show your versatility and aim to connect with your audience on their level.
Here are some basics, if you are dealing with someone with a strong background in finance, feel free to get into more intricate financial terminology and detail. However, if you are dealing with someone more junior who does not have a strong finance background, you should cater to their level of their understanding and sophistication. Although this may seem like common sense, you would be surprised home many people in business do not tailor their approach by adjusting to their audience and lose rapport and even the entire deal as a result.
Remember, people like people like them, don’t show off by being elitist, using fancy words, intricate algorithms and other “analysis paralysis” maneuvers unless you know you are dealing with people who understand and appreciate it.
4. Show Up Prepared
How can you better get to know your audience? Do your homework and show up prepared. Before a meeting with someone that you’ve never met before, you should Google them or look them up on Linkedin to find out about their background, work history, where they went to college and look for common ground; people or places that you might have in common. Using this knowledge strategically can help you develop rapport faster and you will have a better understanding of how to speak to your audience. Look up their picture so you recognize them as soon as you meet them.
If you are meeting with someone for a business meeting for the first time, you should know background information on their company and industry in advance of the meeting. This may sound like a basic no-brainer but many still many people neglect the discipline to properly prepare before business meetings… amateur hour.
5. MatchING and MirrorING Technique
Ok, if this is the first time you are hearing about matching and mirroring, it may seem like a Jedi mind trick and you may have your doubts at first. If this is the case I urge you to dig-in as mastering matching and mirroring can be a game-changer.
Here is the brief history on matching and mirroring; this technique was pioneered by Dr. Milton Erickson, a psychiatrist specializing in hypnosis and family therapy. Erickson believed that the unconscious mind is always listening and he made significant breakthroughs with patients through the art of matching and mirroring.
Erickson’s work on matching and mirroring is widely used in the business setting by mirroring or matching body posture which helps to build rapport.
For example, if you are in a business meeting and someone is sitting back in their chair with their arms crossed, by subtlety leaning back in your chair and crossing your arms in the same manner as them, you can indirectly help to build rapport and start influencing their subconscious. By actively practicing and gauging the results, you will be surprised how well it works and you will eventually start doing it naturally.
If you watch a new couple who are in love, you may notice how the body language is naturally in sync. They may pick up their drinks at the same time, both have their legs crossed and both leaning into the conversation. Matching and mirroring tends to happen naturally when people are in rapport.
Using matching and mirroring during important meetings and negotiations to help rapidly build rapport can significantly aid in the outcome.
Still think matching and mirroring is far fetched? Watch this Ted Talk (LINK HERE) on hypnosis. After watching this, in comparison, matching and mirroring will seem like a lay-up and you will become a believer.
6. FlawlessLY EXECUTED Elevator Pitch
Are you able to flawlessly articulate what your company does and why anyone should care in under 30 seconds?
Your elevator pitch is an opportunity to put all 6 strategies for influencing someone to the test. Paying close attention to both your physiology and tonality when you are delivering your elevator pitch is just as important as your pitch itself.
Does your passion for your business and belief in your mission transcend into your elevator pitch? People can tell from your delivery if you are sincere in your message and they are judging whether you actually believe in your pitch yourself or not. Here is the chance to fine-tune all six strategies, make it count and close the deal!
For a short example of an elevator pitch, take a look at the first paragraph on the homepage of my website.
ABOUT ROSS FRANKLIN
Ross Franklin is the Founder & CEO of RF Consulting, Pure Green and host of the RF Podcast. He has been featured in The New York Post, Page Six, health.com, well + good and many more.