By Tim Riesterer
If you’re a fan of the megahit TV show Mad Men, you’ve seen Don Draper, creative director at the Sterling Draper Cooper Pryce advertising agency, deliver some brilliant pitches for iconic American brands. And you’ve doubtless heard many a real-life marketing, advertising and sales professional wax nostalgic for the good ol’ days and equate the Mad Men ways to modern-day business life. At the risk of doing the same, I can’t help but call to your attention one of my favorite scenes, in which Don vies to win the Kodak slide projector account.
So, why does it resonate with me? On the surface, I’m nostalgic and it’s a clip of an entertaining television show with well-written dialogue featuring a product I remember. But it’s much more than that. It’s an excellent example of visual storytelling and the power of personal stories to help you connect with prospects in sales conversations.
Don manages to take one of the oldest man-made inventions — the wheel — and reinvent it as a magical carousel that brings to life all of one’s cherished memories, in gorgeous color. He then goes one step further and uses his own personal story – slides from his own family – to illustrate his point.
Don doesn’t launch into a description of features of the slide projector. He doesn’t talk about how the new design locks the slides into place, stopping them from falling out of the projector. And he doesn’t point out that once the slides are placed in the carousel, there is no need to manually reset the slide tray for each show. He doesn’t need to because those features are evident in the story.
The pitch is visual storytelling at its best. The execution looks effortless, but in reality it was carefully planned and mapped out. Just look at poor Harry Crane running from the room in tears and the stunned looks on the Kodak executives’ faces. The story is a powerful weapon.
Next time you prepare for a conversation with a prospect, channel Don Draper and consider how to use one of your personal stories to create an emotional connection. And just imagine being able to close all of your sales meetings with the confidence to say, “good luck at your next meeting.”