Inspiring Your Customers: The Power of a Great Story

June 27, 2017

Introducing advanced, innovative technology into a new market is difficult. Being successful and making a profit is even more difficult. It is estimated that selling new technology into a new market is up to 10 times harder than selling existing technology into an existing market.

Selling existing technology can be hard enough, so it’s easy to let this statistic dissuade you. But considering how much a new piece of technology can revolutionize the way we do things, taking a risk is sometimes worth it. Siri is just one example of this.

The important question is: How can we minimize the risk?

“Selling Dreams”

Before you’ve got a product, you’ve got an idea.

This idea can range from a single thought that sprouts up from the depths of your mind as you drift off to sleep, to a fully fleshed-out business proposal. But regardless of how well thought-out it may be, that’s all it is. An idea. An idea that is worth nothing until you can convince others to believe in it.

Convincing people to support (or, God forbid, spend money) on your idea when you have very little to show for it is no easy feat. In fact, because you have nothing more than a dreamed up concept to market to your customers, I call this “selling dreams”.

Convincing Customers to Buy Your Dreams

One of my favorite advertisements is the famous ShamWow advert. It shows Vince Offer (better known as ‘The ShamWow Guy’) cleaning just about everything possible with a single wipe. It was so effective that it went viral. Millions of people spent their money on this product, just to be associated with the ‘ShamWow’ brand.

This advertisement, like many others, is visual. It shows you why you need the product.

But what if you don’t have anything to show? How can you convince your customer to take a leap of faith and invest in your product if they can’t feel the benefits? And what was it that ShamWow had, apart from the catchy advertisement, that made people get out their wallets?

The Importance of Inspiration

I first began thinking about what exactly it means to be ‘inspiring’ when I was sitting in a temple listening to a preacher recite an exceptionally great sermon. Looking around, I couldn’t help but notice how fully engaged everyone was. All eyes were drawn to him, following intently as he paced around the room. It was fascinating.

So how did the preacher do this? Of course, he couldn’t rely on a slide deck, pulpit, or demo to get his idea across to the audience…

He had to tell a great story.

Telling a Great Story

People love stories. They one of the most powerful forms of communication. The Bible, for example, is a collection of brilliant stories. Just look at the impact it has had on the world, even today.

The best thing is, anything can be turned into a story. But how do we make sure our stories inspire our customers?

1. Respond Directly to the Needs of the Listener

To be effective, a story must respond to either the wants and needs of your target audience. To discover these needs, find out where you can go to meet with people who might be interested in your product and talk to them. I guarantee you’ll learn something you hadn’t thought of.

2. Be the Most Passionate Person You Know

Be passionate. Be so passionate that you inspire passion in others. Being a passionate, uplifting person will make people want to be around you more. This will help you to sell, but more importantly, it will help you create long-term relationships with people who love what you do.

3. Define One Clear Goal, and Don’t Stray From It

Why are you telling the story? What is your end goal? How do you want the listener to feel? We’ve all been stuck in a meeting where the speaker rambled on for an hour with no clear point, and we came out feeling even more clueless than we did when we went in?

Some of these speakers are seasoned development veterans, yet no one is listening to them because they can’t decipher what they’re trying to say.

4. Make it Personal

Making yourself the main character of your story makes you more relatable. Customers will like you more if they can empathize with you and put themselves in your shoes.

Inspiring your customers improves your relationship with them, and makes them more likely to listen to you and confide in you. This will make it easier to discover their needs.

How Can You Apply This to Your Business?

The next time you’re trying to think of a way to market your product to customers and investors, take a step back and ask yourself: How can I turn this into an inspiring story?

To learn more about how to succeed when bringing innovation to market, you can check out my book, Built for Global, where I share what I’ve learned from decades of selling advanced technology to large companies all around the world.

About me:

Robert Pearlstein has 25 years experience working with Silicon Valley companies to sell advanced technology to global companies. He currently works as Vice President for Global Business Development as part of SRI (Stanford Research Institute) one of the largest independent research and development in the United States.