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Sell with emotion

“Spartans, what is your profession?!!!!” Are you a potter, a sculptor, a blacksmith?


By Joe Terry, CEO, Corporate Visions

Before you answer, take a look at this quick video clip from the movie 300, which is a prelude to the famous battle between King Leonidas and his 300 soldiers of Sparta, and King Xerxes of Persia at Thermopylae.

That 10 second clip sends chills down your spine, reveals their profession, and is clear, emotional and passionate! That’s because the Spartans Lived Their Story. At that time, the Spartans were the most highly trained fighting force in the world. From the age of seven, they lived and trained to be Spartans, to be soldiers – they Lived Their Story every day. When you met a Spartan, you knew in five minutes all the details behind why he was a Spartan and why that mattered. He Lived It, and you knew it.

Like the Spartans, your employees should be living your company’s story each and every day. Your company story must be told with clarity, conviction and passion. Is everyone in your company telling your story this way? Do they believe it? Are they Living Your Story?

How do you know? Start by looking at your messages, your sales and marketing tools, and how your people are being trained to deliver your company story. Is your company’s story clear, unique to you, important to your customers and defensible? Do your employees use your messages and tools every day, and believe what they say? Do they embrace your company’s story, rally around it, and convey it with emotion?

A great story is one that is clear, visual, and told with conviction and passion – one that all of your employees know by heart. You should be able to communicate your story in your marketing programs, a sales conversation, a follow-up email to a customer/prospect, or even in the proverbial elevator. But it’s not enough to know the story – you must Live The Story.

If you want to be the best in the world, this is not optional. You should be so passionate about what you do – your profession – that you’re pissed when people don’t buy from you. Not because you didn’t win, but because they just made a decision, or no decision, that puts their personal and company success at risk.  If you don’t believe at this level, if you’re not passionate about what you do, then leave. You’re not Living Your Story. You’re working at the wrong company. Go find something you are passionate about, where you can be a Spartan. Go find a cause worth fighting for.  And if you are a leader and you are not providing the leadership around the messages, tools and skills to tell your company story, then your level of commitment to your story does not match that of those you serve. You should leave; this is not your profession.

Is this harsh? Yes. I am not a sculptor, blacksmith or potter, I know my profession and I refuse to let you make the mistake of not Living Your Story.

I can say this with clarity, conviction and passion because, “you see old friend, I brought more soldiers than you did!” We help the best companies in the world Live Their Story by developing messages that matter, deploying tools that get used, and training on skills to deliver conversations that win!

Learn how to align your entire organization behind your story at the 2013 Marketing and Sales Alignment Conference on Sept 17-19 in Chicago. It’s a conference powerful enough to change the way you approach marketing and sales in your organization, career, and life. A conference that brings together the most brilliant minds in the B2B world to crack the code in getting your company to develop and live its unique story… all the way through your organization.




It’s not a wheel. It’s a carousel.



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.

Don pitching Kodak.

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.”


Do You Take the Stairs?

Fun theory shows once again that human decision-making isn’t rational.

I always like to think that logic and rational thought rule when my prospects make a decision.  But, time and again I’m proven wrong.  That’s why you always hear us say in Power Messaging – “people decide on emotion and justify with facts.”

When I ran across this video it showed once again how emotional decision-making can be.  You and I know that taking the stairs instead of an escalator will provide more exercise.  And, we are fully aware that exercise is good for us.  (There’s plenty of research and data to prove that.)  So, it would be logical to assume that if we know what’s good for us, we’d always take the stairs instead of the escalator.  But, we don’t.

Watch this less than 2-minute video to see an interesting social experiment on getting more people to take the stairs.  It proves once again how we underestimate the power of emotions to impact a decision.


It’s the same when you go into a sales pitch with too much information.  Too much data.  Too many rational arguments.  You leave wondering why your prospect has paralysis by analysis.  It’s because you put her there.  And, as a result, she can’t clearly see enough reason to change from the status quo.

In fact, recent research indicates that 40% of sales cycles end in no decision.  Meaning your biggest competitive enemy is no longer an arch rival competitor, but prospects doing nothing.  In truth, however, this could be your biggest opportunity.  Taking market share from tough competitors is always difficult.  Getting a prospect to make a decision vs. waiting may be your next big growth opportunity.

Loosen the status quo with emotion
Just like the stairs were transformed into a piano, you need to create some emotion and excitement in your sales message.  If you want to loosen the status quo, you need a story that inspires your prospect to see the need for change.  Think about the video.  They were still stairs.  Weren’t they? They were still healthier for you than taking the escalator.  Right?  The “product” called stairs and the benefits of using them didn’t change.

Only the brand new story and the experience created around the stairs changed.  In fact, the stairs themselves became a giant prop to help sell the concept of stairs.  It engaged people’s body and mind in the product called stairs.  It made people want to try the stairs in a way that rationally explaining the benefits never did.

Where can you inject emotion?
You need a great story for your products and services.  The greatest stories are facts, wrapped in emotion.  For example, “the King died.  The Queen died.”  Those are the facts.  But, when you add emotion saying, “the King died, and the Queen died of a broken heart,” then you have a story.  You have a story that pulls people in, engages them and connects in a way that just the facts can’t.

We worked with a corporate, after-hours cleaning services company that offered a unique approach to cleaning.  It was a multi-color, microfiber cloth system that eliminated 90% of bacteria compared to just 33% with traditional cotton cloths.  You would think that fact would be enough to get prospects to bite.  It wasn’t until the company added a mini-story (drama and props) about how the multi-color cloths helped make sure your cleaners weren’t using the same cloth to clean your bathrooms as they did to clean your office telephone that they really got people’s attention.

Don’t be afraid to make your sales messages connect emotionally with your customers.  Help them see the need for change.  Help them see change is coming fast.  Help them see the impact of not dealing with the change vs. the impact of successfully adapting to the change. Creating enough emotional contrast between their current pain and the potential gain they can achieve by working with you.  And, then make your solution critical to their survival.