Today’s guest blog is an extract from “The Introvert’s Edge to Networking”, by Matthew Pollard about the transformative power of stories. Matthew is the founder and CEO of Rapid Growth, LLC. He is a good friend who has shared much of my content on his platform. I thought you might enjoy some of Matthew’s great material.
Bethany and Shan Jenkins were luxury custom home builders. They worked with people who wanted that “crown jewel,” the $3–$10 million home that blew you away. While networking, they’d meet people who wanted a home like this, but would say, “We’re looking for a designer now; we’ll reach out to you when we’re looking for a builder.” Or, “We have a builder we like already; we’re just looking for a designer to get it drafted.” When they’d try to network with realtors, the response was generally, “We already have a builder we recommend.”
But Jenkins Custom Homes isn’t just a builder—it’s a design-build firm. The distinction is important. When the design and build are done by separate firms, the two sides rarely communicate well with each other, leading to last-minute chaos. The stress can take its toll on a marriage, leave customers with a house they resent, and even turn a dream home into a nightmare. That’s why it’s so important to work with a design-build company who knows what the extras cost and how to design their client’s dream home within budget.
The Jenkins team had a problem communicating this. Bethany felt they came off sounding as though they were bad-mouthing the competition—or trying to scare prospects into giving Jenkins their business. I told Bethany we could create a system for her that leveraged her natural introverted strengths. She asked, “How do I not sound salesy when people say, ‘I’ve already got a relationship with a designer; I’m just looking for a builder’—or vice versa?” “Just tell them stories,” I said. “For example, have you ever had a prospect come to you with a designer’s plans, only to inform them that the design didn’t fit their budget?”
Bethany told me about Megan, who came to their office, explained what she wanted, then handed over her designer’s plans. The discussion went well, so to conclude the meeting, Shan said, “Great, let us take a look over your plans in more detail and we’ll get back to you on a fixed price.”
Megan replied, quite anxiously, “Can you just give me a ballpark figure now?” Normally, it takes time to calculate all the costs correctly. But Megan was quite insistent. So, Shan gave her a rough guesstimate. Megan burst into tears. She told them that she had informed her designer what her budget was. But after getting the plans, she’d gone to four different builders whose prices were double what she’d budgeted. Megan had worked with her designer for two years to plan the home of her dreams . . . and now five builders had told her there was no way she could afford it. She was either going to have to cancel building her home or spend more money to design a lesser home, always knowing it wasn’t what she really wanted. “How could this happen?” she cried.
I said to Bethany, “As unfortunate as poor Megan’s situation is, it’s a perfect story for showing—not telling—people why working with a designer and builder separately is so risky.” Today, when networking, if someone says, “I’ve already got a relationship with a designer, I’m just looking for a builder,” Bethany simply responds, “Congratulations on starting the process toward your dream home. What a huge milestone. If you’ve already locked in with a designer you’re happy with, excellent. However, has anyone told you about going the designer-then-builder path versus the design-build path, and why it matters so much?”
Many look puzzled and say, “No, what’s that?” Bethany continues: “Well, the major difference is—actually, you know what? Let me give you an example. See, when Megan came to us . . .” Bethany then wraps it up with: “So, of course, I’m not saying if you design and build separately this will happen to you, and I really hope it doesn’t. However, regardless of whether you use us or another design-build option, I strongly suggest you explore the possibility.”
When they do, who do you think they’ll see as the only logical choice? Isn’t that so much easier than self-promotion or feeling like you’re coming across as instilling fear? A simple story neatly sidesteps all that. You’re not expressly telling them they’re doing it wrong, so it doesn’t come across as judgmental. You’re not lecturing. You’re not even saying they should hire you or that their way won’t work. Megan’s story served as a way to educate prospects on the risks while inspiring interest in a different solution. It showed that Bethany understood her listeners, their fears, and how to avoid them.
Megan’s story and two other stories catapulted Jenkins Custom Homes from an annual turnover of $6 million after almost twenty years of operation, to more than $18 million the following year. Moreover, it took an introvert from hating the idea of selling and networking to loving it and dominating her industry! That’s the transformative power of stories.
The Introvert’s Edge to Networking
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