Stories and proof: A cornerstone of successful advertising sales methodologies


josh gordon BPA presentationJosh Gordon, in this old video prepared for the BPA, advocates a combination of a story that captures the emotions and reasoning of the intended clients, with proof. Although this 10 minute YouTube video is only part of the story, it provides a tantalizing clue about how to succeed in selling.

The first thing, he says, is to find a definitive advantage that means something to your clients.  In one case, he said he faced a competing publisher’s rep who told clients that the magazine he represented “didn’t care about the Canadian market.”  This statement arouses nationalistic feelings, but the key to the success in the message is the proof — BPA audit figures, in this case, showing that indeed the magazine Gordon represented had significantly lower circulation in Canada than the competing product.

Now, of course, it is a bit of a stretch to say that just because the circulation of one publication is lower than another in Canada, that the publisher doesn’t “care” about Canada.  But that is the stuff of emotion and it carries a whole lot more weight than saying, simply, “we have more circulation in Canada than the competition.”

Here, you can see a clue to successful selling practice.  You look at your potential client’s needs and emotional soft points and capture a story or message that touches these nerves.  Then, you validate the assertion with a rationale, or proof.  The proof is often at the other end of the “because” word — and, no it doesn’t need to be scientific or hard data like a full BPA audit (of course if you have one, that is great, but if you don’t you can still find other ways to express your thoughts.

Remember, facts and figures don’t matter that much unless you can pull together a story that creates a convincing message — then the facts and figures might well provide the crucial validation for the story, and reduce the skepticism and concerns that you are just trying to pull wool over the eyes of your potential clients.