Tim Riesterer, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, Corporate Visions
In order to break the status quo, you need a theme and you need to get everyone’s attention. When I thought of status quo busting, I thought of the TV show MythBusters. They take urban legends and blow them to smithereens. They take stories and wives tales and they prove them to be either wrong or plausible. They bust myths like we want to bust the status quo.
In order to make the status quo unsafe, you have to get your prospects and customers to move away from what they are currently doing and get them to do it a different way. That’s what sales and marketing’s job is. The new book “Power of Habit” validates this theory and what we’ve been teaching here at Corporate Visions. The brain goes into a habit and it goes on auto pilot. The part of the brain that wants to do something different, “the old brain,” then goes to sleep. If you want to break the status quo, and wake up the part of the brain that has been sleeping, you need to make your customers and prospects smarter so they can make a decision.
Here are the 5 messaging myths that need to be busted:
1. Personas are the best tool for developing effective messaging – The need to change is not driven by a persona. If you want to wake up the “old brain,” you need to create a sense of need and a deficit or a gap. You need to convince your customers and prospects that maybe the status quo they are standing on is unsafe and that it has a few leaks and squeaks in it.
Alternative: Status quo clusters – this is the idea that your customers or prospects have a certain status quo that they live in. They think this decision is safe and secure. You need to help them explore their world today and why they think they are safe. You need to determine what gaps they might have in their current assumptions. The best way to do this is to find a story that lives in contrast to that safe story. If you don’t define a status quo cluster, you are not going to get them to change. Show them the gaps in their assumptions and give them evidence to validate the risks they might have if they stay in their current status quo.
2. Voice of the customer research is essential for effective messaging – This method causes prospects and customers to lead you astray. The fact is, customers have a hard time telling and describing to you the pains and challenges that make them want to change. And truth be told, change is hard. They see change as a painful management project. The problem is that you have no distinct point of view if you use this method.
Alternative: Your prospects and customers have unknown or under-appreciated problems and there are new threats emerging every day that you can make them see. You can also help them see there are new obligations that they must meet and that there are more opportunities out there. Help them see that these opportunities that could be missed are more imminent than they might think. Your job as a salesperson or a marketer is to introduce new problems to your customers and prospects and how you can help solve them.
3. 20-question discovery is the best way to start a new sales cycle – We’ve discovered that executive buyers aren’t reacting as favorably to this methodology. The expectation of buyers is that you are informed. They think you know more than they do, so you need to act like it. This methodology forces you to know nothing about your customer or their business. Everyone has the same 20 questions, so this method does not distinguish you from your competitors. What you need to do is share insights and wisdoms that make the customer realize the story that they need to live in.
Alternative: You need to build a buying vision and introduce a new framework for how you engage customers. Doing this is just as powerful as asking good questions, but it adds more value because you’re sharing insights and data in the marketplace for them that they can’t get out of their own task forces. Doing this gives them a vision. Focus on the “why change” gap and broker a conversation that frames their story and get them to see the issues that threaten their status quo.
4. Zen presentation techniques are a must have – This method floods presentation slides with large metaphors and abstract pictures. Visuals are needed in presentations because the “old brain” does not have the capacity to process language and they provide contrast. The problem with zen presentations is that you’re making the brains of your customers and prospects work even harder. You have to have a whole different conversation, and avoid “why us” and instead explain “why change.” Really good visuals are simple and concrete. You can use the value wedge to help you achieve this.
Alternative: Use visual storytelling to communicate visually. By doing this you’ll wake the “old brain” so it can sense emotion behind the story and get a sense of where the new story is. Visuals need to be told in ways that can be drawn and clearly understood. You need to make meaning out of a complex idea and make it simple. What was once abstract is now concrete so that means it’s doable for your prospects and customers. In fact, the point of view whiteboard pitch can help you do this. It helps you make a difference and reframe their story. This pitch is your gift to them, because they came into the room thinking one thing and then you enlightened them to the impactful issues surrounding them.
5. You can’t make a difference in a big organization – Maybe you work at a big company and you think they aren’t going to change. Or maybe you think you are just here to personally enrich yourself. Or maybe you’re too new to bring ideas like this to your company and poke holes in the status quo of your organization. However, you have an opportunity to make a difference, to initiate change and to challenge the status quo.
Alternative: You can make a difference as an individual. The idea that you can’t make a difference is just simply not true. One of our customers, Jen from Motorola, attended our conference previously and she was the only one here representing the company. Motorola is a huge organization and today we have about 20 people from the organization here. Embrace yourself as an individual and make change happen.