Week 035 – Aim for Seduction, Not Demonstration – Chapter 09

Could you imagine buying your next car without taking it for a test drive? Most people would shake their head in bewilderment. It is no wonder then that for any appreciable investment, you assume that the customer needs a demonstration before she can make up her mind. But ist that really the case?

Let’s assume I have the Haglund’s syndrome. This is when the bone under the Achilles tendon is enlarged and causes a chronic inflammation. There are diverse methods of treatment, ranging from minimally invasive ones to extravagant interventions with screws and self-coalescing pegs made of industrial sugar.

Every doctor I turn to proposes a different method. As a non-specialist, how am I to decide which treatment is best for me?
I can only tell if I made the right decision after the treatment. But even if the operation goes wrong, I still can’t be sure that an alternative method would have been better. This is how it is for many companies that have to decide for or against an investment. There are many parameters in play and no possibility of verifying all outcomes.

Decision makers and their employees tend to support decisions with tests. On the other hand they cannot really judge the results of them. I call this the “incompetence effect.” The decision maker feels the urge to enlist the help of certain employees to form professional judgments. But this only leads to a different form of the “incompetence effect.”

A Story Featuring a Motorbike

Imaging that you sell dump trucks. You meet a customer who fits all your criteria and stands to benefit greatly from your product. Everything has already been discussed, but the decision maker wants to “bring in” his employees.

The silly thing is that the company’s process up to now is based on a motorbike as means of transport, which is then hooked up to a trailer. The employees are used to getting the job done with this motorbike. Now they are supposed to test the dump truck solution. The demonstration proceeds well – and yet there is criticism. The steering wheel’s shape was not ideal, a handle should be provided. The clutch should not be operated with the left foot but with the right hand.

The employees are judging the innovation through the prism of their current routine, and this has a massive influence on their opinion. Also remember that a new solution directly affects the job of the employees. There’s an apt saying here that goes: “If you want to drain the swamp, don’t ask the frog’s permission.”

What do you do if something similar arises in your selling process? I tell the decision maker this story, look her straight into the eyes and say, “How likely is it that we would create a similar problem if we were to consult your employees about this now?” I think you can help the decision maker to gain confidence by offering her this analogy that she will not easily forget. It will encourage further thought and will give her the motivation to act.

Create an Epic Journey © Fotolia 2015 / Sunny studio

Create an Epic Journey © Fotolia 2015 / Sunny studio

1. Create Suspense Between the Present and the Future

The American author Nancy Duarte has made a name for herself on how to give impressive presentations. Recently she’s dealt with the topic of unusual talks. Citing some famous examples, she showed how the speaker was able to carry the listeners on a journey from today to a better tomorrow. You can do the same.

Start by describing the current situation. Then illustrate how things will look once the decision has been made. Make sure you keep alternating between both realities, today and tomorrow, in order to increase the tension. And finally present the corresponding results and benefits.

2. Send the Decision Maker on an Epic Journey

Every investment is a foray into the unknown. A good story will describe such a journey: A hero is called to access an adventure and is initially reluctant to do so. Finally he does so, however, overcoming obstacles and attaining new insights in the process. These insights will then help him to overcome difficulties of the workaday world.

You see, you should portray your decision maker as a hero and protagonist of this kind of story – send him off on an epic journey!

3. Make Sure Your Ideas Stick

The brothers Chip and Dan Heath came up with six factors for selling an idea that sticks:

– Simple – How much can you leave out? What parts are too complicated? Do you need foreign terms?

– Unexpected – Where’s the surprise? Are there unexpected turns?

– Concrete – Can you use colorful, clear images instead of abstract words? How does it affect us here and now?

– Credible – Can you provide testimonies? Can you offer proof? At what point is it self-explanatory?

– Emotional – How can you charge your idea emotionally? What does your idea mean for the lives of those concerned?

– Stories – Can you make a good story out of it?

The more you keep these checkpoints in mind while working on your presentation, the more impressive you will be while giving it.

Next week, I will close this chapter by presenting a tool that will help you to impress.

Best wishes,
Stephan Heinrich