Stories Without Contrast Are Just Irritating

I spoke on a panel discussion recently about “The Status Quo: Defeat Your Biggest Competitor in Marketing and Sales.”  One of the attendees asked what one tool we would arm our teams with if we could only have one. In answering the question, I said it would have to be a purpose-built story with which I could arm the Sales team that would describe how the prospect’s status quo was unsafe and would lead toward my solution.

But, not just any story. It has to be a story with contrast. Too often, we spend a great deal of time crafting a great story that makes a compelling case for our solution. What we often fail to do however is to draw a clear, and concrete contrast between the prospect’s current situation and what life will be like after implementing our solution. No matter how great we make life with our solution sound, we won’t be effective at loosening the status quo and moving the prospect toward a decision unless we can clearly articulate the contrast. If fact, without contrast, our stories are just well-told accounts of how great our solution is…and that’s just irritating to prospects as it sounds like everyone else.

Contrast can be underscored with a variety of techniques:

  • Clear verbal transitions between the bad and good;
  • If you’re writing or drawing, use different colors (red for bad and green for good);
  • If you’re presenting, make a clear transition with strong visuals and support with concrete narrative;
  • In sales tools, use front page/back page to depict the before and after
In my experience, the more complex and compelling a solution, the greater the risk that a firm will get trapped in building a great story for the solution but fail to spend time on clearly contrasting the new solution from the prospect’s status quo. According to Sales Benchmark Index, around 60% of deals in the pipeline are stalled because the prospect is stuck in status quo…they don’t feel a compelling reason to decide to move toward a new solution. By deploying stories with contrast, you can help unseat the prospect from status quo and lead toward your solution.

(Image Dog’s Face used under CCC)

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One thought on “Stories Without Contrast Are Just Irritating

  1. Pingback: Passing The Storytelling Baton | Marketing & Sales Alignment

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