The you know when? question

“So, what do you do?” I asked the nice gentleman next to me at the networking event.

He explained, “We create software for service providers with management reporting suites that can measure key performance metrics …” – or something like that. He also mentioned filtering data and integrated reports but, frankly, he’d lost me.

“I’m not sure what that means” I said, when he’d finished. “I’m not very technical”.

“Oh OK” he said. And there was an awkward silence.

“Do you have any other way of explaining it?” I asked him.

He was clearly struggling, so I suggested “Imagine I’m 8 and try starting with this: You know when ……….?”

He thought for a moment and then said “You know when you have a website but you’re not sure who is coming to it, or you have to turn your phone off and you’re not sure if a new customer was trying to contact you? Well, we help you to capture those people’s details and follow up with them in a way that makes them feel cared for and looked after”.

Bingo! I got it. (OK I might have helped him a bit with that).

Version one focused on the what he does, but didn’t speak to anyone who didn’t already have a basic understanding of the technology he was talking about.

Version two was pure story. It simply painted a picture of the problem he solves, the great result his clients get and the impact that has on their own business.

If you struggle to use story to explain what you do, try starting with “You know when …”