Have you ever had prospects who truly did not understand the value of your product or service? I know I have. It's tough to convince sellers to change what they're doing, when prevailing wisdom says they should just work harder & make more calls.
That's why I want to introduce you to internationally-recognized speaker & seminar leader Anne Miller. She's the author of Make What You Say, Pay and Metaphorically Speaking.
I recently had the opportunity to interview her about strategies that sellers can use to open minds and close deals.
JILL KONRATH Why are you such an evangelist for the use of metaphors?
ANNE MILLER: I'm a cheerleader for metaphors because they are the best way to combat the barrage of information that comes at our clients every day. People see about 3000 messages daily. They tune out more than they tune in, if no other reason than to survive!
As sales people, we want to be the ones that make it through their noise filters. Metaphors and analogies do that because they register instantly and emotionally with the way we are wired. There are many descriptions of the September 2008 crash, but it was Warren Buffet who made the news when he called it an ”economic Pearl Harbor.”
Metaphors grab our attention and stick. The 21st century needs fresh ways to engage, to sell, to position products and services and to influence the outcomes of a meeting. Metaphors solve that problem.
JILL KONRATH: Who uses metaphors - besides my high school English teacher?
ANNE MILLER: That is the beauty of metaphors: EVERYONE does, only they are not aware of it. Any time you say, “That is a train wreck waiting to happen. I don’t have the bandwidth to process that right now. The Goliath of the industry is X and I am David..” you are speaking metaphorically.
In business and the media, all your top CEOs and public figures use them. Carol Bartz CEO at Yahoo! recently responded to a critic of her leadership to improve Yahoo!s stock by saying, “This isn’t a job where you come in and do fairy dust. It takes time...” thereby taking the steam out of that question.
JILL KONRATH: How does this need for metaphor apply to the web: blogging, social media, websites?
ANNE MILLER: It applies now more than ever, because metaphors help separate you from the masses. For example, there are 337,000 listings on Google for marketing – but there is only one firm called Marketing Sherpa. Guide, expertise, ability to conquer tough business terrains –all neatly tied up in a single metaphor. Who wouldn’t want to check them out!
Metaphors can be used as Blog headlines, and as ways to get remembered when you are adding posts in your favorite social media.
JILL KONRATH: If metaphors are so powerful, why don’t sales people use them more often?
ANNE MILLER: Metaphors and analogies are something people learned in their English classes and associate with poetry. What they don’t realize is that the technique of the poet is a power tool for selling as well.
JILL KONRATH: Can you use metaphors even if you were not a good English student?
ANNE MILLER: Absolutely! You do not need to create lines like “My love is like a red, red rose.” You just need to think in parallels. For example, if a prospect is already using a competitor and you are seeking a small project to show what you can do AND you know the person plays golf or tennis, you can win the day by saying,
“Mr. Prospect, you play tennis, so you know you can get around a weak back hand with a strong forehand, but when you add a strong back hand, your game improves immeasurably.
"That is what we are saying here. Your current supplier is your forehand. Keep them. Let us be your back hand, so that you can improve your performance in your market. Let us do a test for you.”
To someone who plays tennis, you have shifted his view of the situation with an argument that is reasonable in HIS mind and you will more often than not get that test.” The key is to create parallel images in your buyer’s mind, metaphors or analogies that he/she gets instantly.
JILL KONRATH: How can people strengthen their metaphor power?
ANNE MILLER: There are three ways. First, think “It’s just like...” Second, notice how frequently metaphors and analogies are used in the business press. Third, clip out ones that you like, save them, and use or adapt them to your needs.
For example, Warren Buffet’s “economic Pearl Harbor” can become a “systems Pearl Harbor” in a presentation to management to release funds for needed IT improvements.
A metaphor or analogy is like oxygen. You are not consciously aware of it, yet you use it everyday, all day. Just as you need oxygen to live, you need imagery to survive in our information overloaded world.
JILL KONRATH: Thanks so much for taking the time today to share your insights on metaphors. Until I read your books, I had no idea just how powerful they can be.
And, to all of you who are reading this, I encourage you to check out Anne's books. They're excellent. Plus, she's a great trainer too. Here's a link to her website: www.annemiller.com