Mastering your message through the use of storytelling

February 25, 2014

Have you seen the Saturday Night Live commercials spoofing a customer's experience in a Verizon Wireless store? The sales guy throws out buzzwords, product names, and statistics at the customer, but doesn't relate to the customer or ever actually answer his questions. It's a parody, but let's be honest, how many times have you had that same kind experience when you're considering a new software or technology for business or personal use? Or even worse, as a startup founder or member of a sales team, do you see a little bit of yourself in that sales guy responding to questions with a barrage of facts? Imagine if the sales guy had instead listened to the customer's needs and tried to relate to him on an emotional level, rather than tossing out facts and stats as solutions to his questions.

Last week we had a fantastic workshop hosted by David Kurkjian from the firm Master Messaging. He specializes in helping sales and marketing teams bridge the gap between product specs and marketing buzzwords to deliver a message that hits home. Armed with loads of examples and scientific research, David showed us numerous ways successful advertising campaigns and salespeople have used the art of storytelling and emotional decision making to elevate the brand.

David and his team offer a whole platform for coaching you and your team to more successful messaging, more than we could cover in just one workshop. Here are two tools for overcoming objections:

Contrast = Value: Everyone knows it's always better to sell on value. In telling your story to your prospects, describe their world without your solution and then contrast that with a description of their world with your solution. The more dramatic the gap between these two worlds, the more our brains attach value.

The Reframe: Have you ever encountered a friend or family member who had a phobia or fear like flying? Do you remember how they responded to your logical argument that flying is safer than driving? It likely didn’t soothe their nerves at all. Fear is rooted in emotion, not in a lack of understanding or logic. The same thing happens when a prospect or customer objects to your product or service with a bias like "you're too small to work with us." Too often we try and overcome that bias or emotional objection with a logical answer. The problem is we're speaking to the wrong part of the brain. You have to give them an opportunity to see the bias in a different light by using a reframe. This is done by using an analogy or metaphor completely unrelated to the objection. "You’re too small" could be reframed as "One man in a garage created Dell Computer, Two men in a bicycle shop invented manned flight, imagine what the 3 of us can do for your business".

February 25, 2014
Karen Houghton