With many organization focused on selling with insight, there’s an acute interest in equipping sales teams to be better storytellers. Sales could learn a thing or two from legendary storytellers, the kind that move people to action, emotion, & devotion in only a few minutes’ time – songwriters.
We sat down with Michael Martin, Vice President of the 525,000-member songwriter’s organization ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers). As someone who advises the association’s songwriters, Martin shared some wisdom on how songwriters (and your sales team) can craft the most successful message.
“The strongest songs are the ones that affect a heartstring. They key is getting an emotional reaction. The amazing part about a song like “I Can’t Make you Love Me” co-written by Mike Reed and Allen Shamblin or “Live Like You're Dying” is that they make everyone feel the same thing,” said Martin.
For a sales team, emotional reaction should be your first “gut” test. Does the message you’re working on elicit an emotional reaction with the people you’re testing it on internally? Do you get excited to share the message? If the answer is no…keep on drafting.
Martin advises songwriters, “If you hate that second verse, and you keep performing it, that’s a mistake.”
Don’t roll out a sales message that your organization can’t be passionate about. The prospective customer will sense insincerity, and you’ve wasted the opportunity to deliver a compelling story that drives your audience to action.
The audience doesn’t need to see the mess of your process. Martin warns songwriters not to perform unfinished songs.
In the sales world, we’d put that in terms of “sales readiness.” If your message isn’t fully formed with compelling reasons to the questions: Why change? Why now? And why us? Then it’s not a sales ready message, and you’re setting the sales team up for a flop.
“If you play songs that people don’t play attention to, stop it. They’re telling you they don’t like it. If you find something people like, keep playing that,” coaches Martin.
Like songwriters, sales teams deal with a lot of rejection – but how do they handle it? If a prospect was once engaged but is no longer opening or answering e-mails, it’s time to change the conversation. Has your story gone stale? It’s important to keep sales messages evergreen, always updated with a fresh take that will keep existing customers and prospects interested in hearing what you have to say.
“Love is love. Pain is pain. Most people like cheeseburgers. Some of the best songs are universal and simple, but they’re very difficult to write. That’s the magical part,” said Martin.
What looks simple in storytelling often isn’t. There’s a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into the magical “aha” moment in a successful insight selling customer conversation. It’s important to commit to doing the hard work to achieve a simple, compelling sales message.