Think about the recent election cycle. When Donald Trump wanted you to thinkabout an opponent ina derogatory way, he found a simple metaphor – that stuck.
Remember, these people? “Lyin’ Ted”, “Low-energy” Jeb, “Little Marco” Rubio, “Crooked Hillary” and “Crazy Bernie”. Sure you do. Why, because, just as a picture is a thousand words, metaphors are memorable because they paint the “big picture” and leave out all the words, that often no-one wants to read!
In Conversations that Win the Complex Sale, Erik Peterson and Tim Riesterer, remind us of this point and give us some interesting pointers when we’re engaged in selling. In a sales situation, the first thing you need to do is set the framework – draw a picture of what your prospect’s world looks like. This allows you to demonstrate you understand his/her world and enables you to help create the framework you want to use.
(Remember, in the “old” world of sales, where people were to note features, sell benefits and overcome objections, the objections usually came from the fact that your framework missed key issues and they arose “objections”. For instance, if you’ve qualified the prospect as having the budget you need, and created a framework for high ROI and value, then price isn’t an objection anymore.)
After you’ve created the Big Picture, present the detailed sales points, providing evidence to support each one. Then, close with a metaphor that summarizes your point and makes it memorable. Another example: a client with a warehouse, created a sales pitch in which he notes the pain many customers experience in other facilities (often hidden charges, complications, slow services), describes the quality, speed and efficiency of its logistic services, while showing the facility, and ends with a metaphor that appeals to the emotional side of the buyer: warehousing made easy.
What metaphors do you use in your sales presentations? Share them with us!
After years of sending manfuacturing to offshore facilities, America has realized that it’s damaged our economy. As US factories close, millions of jobs were lost and many workers were not able to find other sources of work. The trade deficit ballooned and it may have reduced our innovative edge. Indeed, President Trump campaigned on a platform to bring jobs back to America and won the election.
Gary Pisano and Willy Shich, in “Producing Prosperity: Why American Needs a Manufacturing Renaissance”, suggest that another key benefit of moving some manufacturing back to the United States is to revitalize innovation.
Theses Harvard businness professors, argue that when a company loses it’s capability to manufacture, it also loses the ability to innovate and compete. “ Instead of job creation, we believe that the central objective of a national manufacturing strategy should be keeping America’s innovation capabilities healthy, because innovation drives productivity and productivity drives wages.”
Pisano notes that the trend to deindustrialize the US started with the globablization of supply chains. Companies thought they could move manufacturing elsewhere to be cost-competitive, yet keep design (innovation) here. Solar power technologies offer an example. While solar cells (Photovoltaic (PV) cells) were first invented in the United States in 2012, only 3% of PV production was based in the US and Canada; 81% is Asia, with China and Taiwan leading the market. “Once you lose the capabilities, you can bring them back, but the level of investment, activation energy to bring back is higher”, says Pisano.
Indeed, Shih discovered this first hand while working with Kodak. “ Because of earlier decisions to outsource camera manufacturing and consumer electronics assembly to Asia, the innovative capability no longer existed in the United States.” Today’s “endangered species” of American industries include semiconductors and rechargeable batteries.
Andrew Liveris, Chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical, notes “without a vibrant manufacturing secor, R&D will be done not by the US but by its major competitors. Over time, that will leave America dependent on intellectual property that’s created by other countries; American’s ability to generate its own growth will atrophy.” (Make it in America: the Case for Re-Investing the Economy by Liveris.)
Two companies that appear to be aware of this great risk include Intel, which controls the manufacturing of its proprietary process for making chips, and Corning, which maintains leadership in all its business, including Gorilla Glass, a very thin, damage-resistance glass display for mobile devices.
The authors make a second important point: that distance matters in certain industries. For example, biotechnology and life sciences are mainly clustered in Boston, San Francisco and San Diego. Semiconductor manufacturing is amassed in Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Shanghai and Beijing. High-end shoe producers are located in the south of Venice, Italy. Hi-tech and Venture Capital grew in Silicon Valley; the auto industry grew in Detroit, Michigan. Why? Because these industries form “industrial commons” that operate within an “ecosystem” and share know-how and capabilities. To stay innovate, they stay close to one-another, so there are frequent interactions between workers, companies, suppliers, universities, etc. This also permit these companies to cultivate a workforce to meet expanding workforce demands in these industries, through apprenticeship and internships.
In sum, innovation is fueled by close contact and communication – not by distributing parts of the process to the four corners of the world. We must facilitate the development of ecosystems for design, innovation, teaching , manufacturing, etc. of critical industries so jobs which will enable people to stay creative and innovate new solutions for delivering superior products.
What do you think? Share examples!
Years ago , when I founded Brilliant Image, a computer presentation graphics company, I trained my sales people to understand our mission: to help our customers (who make presentations to win over the audience) become heros. It was a key part of our culture for 15 years, till we sold the company. In Conversations that Win the Complex Sale, Erik Peterson and Tim Riesterer, identify the same approach in sales by noting the need to “keep the customer the hero of the story”.
Their concern is about the language we use. All too often a salesperson shows up, analyzes the situation proposes a solution, and then the customer adopts it and is a success. The issue is whether “I/we” found the solution (meaning the salesperson is a hero) or the customer found the solution. Smart salespeople keep the buyer focused on their ability to execute great solutions so they can feel like heroes.
Great sales presentations focus on the customer and make him/her the hero directly. Good people in the company are trapped by a system or process in a world that changed and now isn’t meeting the needs of its people, and the customer is looking for a solution, found it and adopts it. By saying “I/we are introducing this new element to you”, you’re stealing some of the thunder and that diminishes their role as the hero solving the problem.
For instance, a sales person would say “Since the world changed (e.g., entry of a new competitor, new regulations, new technology, etc. that interfere with the system that was working well), changes are needed. You need a new system that takes into account these changes. Companies come to us for the ways to succeed in the new environment, and when they do they’re able to identify the competitive advantage they need.”
As they note, you’ll still get the credit for helping them, but now they do so as a generous hero, rather than an obliging customer.
How do you help focus the customer on being the hero? Share your approach with us!
You’re probably familiar with the Geico tagline – “Fifteen minutes can save you 15 percent or more on car insurance” commercial. Have you ever thought of why it’s so effective?
Erik Peterson and Tim Riesterer, in Conversations that Win the Complex Sale, make an interesting observation about it:
- It talks to you, not at you.
- It first addresses your emotional need – minimum time commitment – to increase acceptability
- It focuses on your objective need – people know that insurance is a necessary evil, so why overpay, as you probably would if there’s a middleman who has to spend more time
- It uses specific numbers (e.g., 15) which are more believable than generalizations
- By using the number 15, twice, it increases memorability.
- It simultaneously addresses two needs, not just one: the ability to make your life better (save money) and less stressful (15 minutes)
Think about some of the commercial company taglines – what makes them powerful? Share it with us.
Once you’ve committed to an innovation strategy, you need to make sure that the culture will support it. In addition to the many steps the leaders must take (which were mentioned in prior blogs), here are a few additional tips:
- Make sure that teams tasked with producing potentially disruptive innovations are truly cross-functional. The diversity of perspective is key to both spurring creativity and avoiding potential blindspots when it comes to execution.
- Keep innovation teams connected to the core business. While companies often separate the “skunk-works” early stage innovation efforts from the rest of the company, it’s important that once the innovation take shape, it graduates and is re-housed in the department that will operate it hereafter. This encourages excellence in execution because the core business has that skillset and key relationships.
- Assure that key leaders are actively engaged in the process. They are the bridge between the stage of innovation development and execution.
- Measure the impact of the new technology from the long-term, not short-term perspective. Not all technologies have immediate higher profit margins than the legacy business; your job is to figure out how it can be incorporated into the larger business and eventually become more valuable. At this time, most use of sustainable energies are not as cost-effective as legacy sources of energy. But governments take the long view in supporting them. Companies need to do the same thing – or else their competitors will figure it out and then disrupt them.
Do you have other innovation culture-related advice to share? Please do.