There is an old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words.  That’s because a good picture tells a story, and a good story makes us think in a way that words or data never will.

All sales people usually arm themselves with a mountain of data, case studies, scientific studies, references and specs upon specs to prove the value of their product or service. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, until they proceed to “show up and throw up” all of that data on some poor unsuspecting prospect who never even asked them a question. Studies show that this data usually does more to improve the conviction of the people selling the product than it does to the people thinking of buying it. Facts are important, but prospects will often fail to be convinced by facts alone.

Why is it so easy for prospects to live in denial of the data?

Denial isn’t logical, it is emotional at its very core.  A good friend of mine is a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for over fifteen years now.  We were discussing his journey to sobriety once, when he mentioned that the key to breaking him out of his denial wasn’t based on data or logical evidence, although there was plenty of that to go around.  What got him to finally STOP and make a decision to even look at the data and evidence of his alcoholism, was relating to a story he heard someone share at an AA meeting.  He SAW himself and his situation clearly through hearing the experience of someone else.  That story was the key to breaking his denial, and hence getting him to take action.

What we learn from that relates to how I define the job of sales, which is to get our prospects to think differently than they currently do about our product.

To get someone to think differently, you have to get them to feel differently because a change in feelings is key to getting someone to even consider the evidence, or have a conversation about data.  Remember, people buy for emotional reasons, and then use logic to justify that buying decision.

Only a story is likely to change an emotional attachment.  Data alone will rarely do that.

That’s the advantage of telling a story, ideally backed by data, versus just hitting someone over the head with facts or raw data.   Telling a good story gives you a chance because it makes your prospect FEEL, and then rethink from there.

Start collecting and telling stories.  Stories speak to people on an emotional level, and that opens the door for a logical conversation.  Do you have your client success stories ready?  Do your sales people know those stories, and how to tell those stories?

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but a story is worth a thousand pictures.