Leading by example

by Richard White on December 31, 2012 · 0 comments

What is your story?You know you are very talented at what you do. So how do you make it sound exciting when networking and avoid eyes glazing over?

How do you get people to think of good referrals for you even though they have not got a clue what’s involved in doing what you do?

The answer is to stop talking about your services and start giving example stories of your clients and the problems you have solved for them.

Example Stories

Rather than trying to explain what you do, just give an example! Tell people about a client and the problems they had and the results they got from working with you. You don’t have to mention them by name. You are just giving an example of how you add value to your clients.


Example stories are always about a specific person who has benefitted by being a client.

John is a data quality consultant who specialises in improving the data quality of marketing databases. Although the marketing director is the main beneficiary of his work, the person responsible for deciding to engage the data quality consultant is the IT Director. The main person in John’s stories should be the IT Director. This is the person John needs to be connected with.


Example stories always have drama. It’s what makes people want to listen to it! You want to communicate the problems that the person in the story was experiencing and how the problem made them feel.

John could easily tell a story about the drama in the life of the IT director as a result of poor data quality. For example, the embarrassment of having to explain to the board of directors why a deceased customer had received a marketing letter offering them ‘a deal to die for’ resulting in a letter of complaint from a relative! In the example the IT Director is quizzed on why there are so many complaints from customers who are still receiving mail despite having asked to be removed from the mailing list.


Now you have told the story of your client and their problem you need to let your listeners know how their life was changed as a result of working with you. The trick is to get a good contrast between the situation before you got involved and results after they worked with you.

John would then finish his story with the happy ending and saying how the IT Director was congratulated on not only a big decrease in complains but also a reduction in direct marketing costs.


Telling example stories is both an art and a science. It needs practice by can be mastered in half a day. I have had the most hardened geeks waxing lyrical about their clients. It is not difficult – it just takes practice.

Richard White
Richard White is a sales coach and trainer. He specialises in helping IT consultants win more sales through effective networking. Richard is the author of ‘The Accidental Salesman Networking Survival Guide’ and is a highly sought after speaker on the subjects of networking and soft selling.

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