Tell Your Story to “Sell” To Your Elected Officials


When I went through the CTIS program offered by the American Bus Association and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis we read a book titled “People Buy You” by Jeb Blount. This was my favorite book from all of the courses. In business, it is one person solving another person’s problem. People need to feel connected to you. Once they feel connected, they will become loyal. We need to make a connection to our elected officials. They are just people, like us. They chose this job because they WANT to help the people of their state. Get connected.

Here are the top 10 things you can do to become connected.

  1. Be likeable. How? Smile. Smile while you type that letter. Smile when you make the call. What do you do when someone smiles? You smile back. This sets the tone for your message. After the smile, be polite, respectful, use your manners. You must do this to get past the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper is their staff member. This is where you begin. If they like you and hear your message, you will get through. Remember, too, to use their title and name. Congresswoman Smith or Senator Smith.
  2. Use please. Use it twice. My children learned this rule a long time ago. I let them know I can be “bought” with kindness. Don’t people get further with you when you like them and they use their manners?
  3. Provide full information about yourself/your company. Share the following:
    • Company history – and make it personal. John began with CIT Signature Transportation by using his college loan to loan his uncle money for Central Iowa Transit. When he graduated, his uncle did NOT hire him! He was so sure it was a slam dunk. Obviously, he eventually was hired, and is now sole owner. My point is, tell the PERSONAL story. Not the factual one. 
    • Give your revenues – past, present, future
    • Talk about your employees – how many, where they live. Where they live is important if they live in other voting districts than you do. Elected officials care about the entire state, but they really care about those that can vote for them.
    • Discuss the impact. 
  4. Be honest. I mean it. Strip away any facades and let them see you “naked”. Being vulnerable is not a negative trait.
  5. Be confident. (No, this does not contradict #4.)This may mean faking it until you make it. Remember, courage is doing something you fear. Courage cannot exist without fear. Fear is a vulnerability.
  6. Ask questions. Have they used motorcoach service? Have they noticed the lack of motorcoaches on the road? What is their position on the issues? How can we help them on our issue? 
  7. Listen. You’ve just asked a series of questions. Did you listen for the answer or just hear it. There is a difference. Be sure to listen to everything they say. I know which of my elected officials fear COVID-19 and which ones do not. I know who cares about employees, and who cares about businesses. I listened to what they were telling me.
  8. When you listened, did you hear them tell you how we can help them solve problems they may have? We are calling them to help us with our problems, but we have to be a partner. Every time we ask what we can do, all of them say – get more people to contact us and tell us their story.
  9. Be empathetic. We are one industry reaching out. They have so many calling them. And, COVID-19 is not the only issue on their plate. The world keeps turning. Sometimes to receive empathy, you must give it.
  10. Close the sale. Yes, you heard me. Make the ask. Articulate what you want. And, do not forget to follow up. Many times the close doesn’t happen until they see you really care by following up. Be sure to thank them in this follow-up. Remember #1-3?

People will buy you if you connect with them. Make your connection and go out and close that sale with our elected officials. This sale is vital.

Kim Grzywacz, CTIS

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