Have you ever had that dream where you turn up to school or work ahead of a big exam / presentation? You find yourself in front of your peers, ready to deliver your all important performance.
Only you can’t remember what it is you’re supposed to say. The answers are blank, the presentation topic completely out of your mind.
You suddenly realise you’re completely naked.
Cue waking up in a cold sweat and thankful that it was only a dream.
If you’ve ever experienced this dream you know that awful feeling in your stomach from standing in front of people feeling completely exposed and vulnerable. It’s one of the most common anxiety dreams out there and you can use this concept to unlock another technique in your ability to Write With Influence.
Why this dream is important to your influence
The main themes represented by this type of dream include:
- Feeling unprepared
- Being exposed as someone who can’t deliver / perform
- Being criticised / feeling embarrassed in front of their peers
Most people out there (whether they dream about being red-faced and naked or not) have these same concerns, and you can use these to build a connection between your customer and your product.
The way you do this is to show them how they could end up red-faced and naked, and why you are the person to prevent this. It’s a pretty simple system, and it’s all about how to…
Identify and Agitate the Knowledge Gap
Your customers know what they know, and don’t know what they don’t know.
Usually I abhor empty statements such as that one, but it’s a good indicator of how this exercise works. Whether you sell to businesses and your customer is an expert in their industry, or whether you are targeting complete beginners, there is great influence if you can:
Show your customer they have a vital gap in their knowledge that could leave them well and truly red-faced and naked
Dave is a salesman. Back when the economy was booming Dave was popular in his work and with his customers. They loved to see him and loved to buy from him. Dave always assumed he just had the kind of patter than made his offers irresistible.
More recently, in tougher economic times Dave is struggling. He’s finding it harder to get through the door not just to new clients, but even to his biggest fans. Not only that, but once he does get an appointment, what worked before isn’t bringing him the same results. He knows he’s a good salesman, he’s got a great track record and builds rapport easily but this recent turn of events is really bringing him down.
So what does Dave not know?
In this example it could be that the changing economy has forced smart sales people to change the way they have sales conversations. If Dave has only ever known the good times he may not realise he needs to adapt his approach when companies are tightening their belts.
As a result, the following article headline might just catch Dave’s eye:
Why 2008 sales conversations don’t work in 2015:
Discover the bad habits that are undermining your sales performance
What he sees from this is:
- Something has changed with sales conversations between then and now
- He may have habits he doesn’t know about
- These habits could be affecting his performance (leaving him red-faced and naked)
So, what you need to do with your customer is:
- Identify what situation would leave them feeling red-faced and naked
- List the different possible misinformed actions that lead to this situation
- Identify the knowledge gap that caused the misinformed action
- Explain why the knowledge gap exists
1. What makes them feel red-faced and naked?
What kind of situations would make your customer feel unprepared and vulnerable?
Some great starting points to think about include:
- Wasting time or money
- Not getting the results they want
- Making the problem worse
- Being embarrassed in front of colleagues / superiors / customers
- Feeling like their ability / skill set / personality isn’t good enough
- Falling behind in comparison to competitors / friends / colleagues
Remember, these may not have happened yet
An important thing to remember with the Red-Faced and Naked technique is that these aren’t necessarily situations that have occurred, but are situations which could happen and would leave your customer feeling uncomfortable.
For example, Dave may not feel that he has damaged rapport with his current clients, but if you were to ask him if he would want to avoid such a situation, he would most likely say yes.
2. What misinformed action could cause this situation?
Now this next step is pretty simple. Just focus on the immediate action that your customer would have to take in order to find themselves in an embarrassing situation.
You want to think about an action that they may take, or have taken that isn’t in their best interests. This is because we’re going to show later on that their action was a result of not being better informed about the situation.
So in this example Dave has bought sales software but it’s not working. That’s because he’s bought software that perhaps doesn’t suit his needs, or because he doesn’t know how to use it properly.
Got it? Great. Then we move onto the next step:
3. What gap in their knowledge could cause the action?
Here we take one more step back. Our customer has taken (or is likely to take in the near future) some kind of action that isn’t good for them.
No-one takes an action that they know is going to cause them unnecessary pain. A new driver doesn’t fail to check her oil and tyre pressure because she’s hoping to overheat her car or have a tyre blow out, these things happen simply because:
They don’t know any better
What is it that they don’t know that might lead them to take this action?
In our example it might be that:
- Dave doesn’t realise his problem isn’t sales software, but his sales technique
- Dave doesn’t know how to talk to customers for the current economy
- Dave isn’t aware of some of the latest sales techniques
Okay, so now you’re starting to build some compelling points to make your customer listen to you. The final part takes a little more thinking about, but once you’ve got it, you’ve got the grounds for some really influential writing.
4. WHY don’t they know what they don’t know?
The final step in building out your table is to jot down why they have this gap in their knowledge.
Here’s a tip – try to find something which doesn’t pin the blame on the customer.
In our example with Dave, we wouldn’t tell him that he’s struggling because he failed to keep up with the latest trends, Dave wouldn’t be very likely to listen to us after that! Instead, we would explain that times have changed, that sales people need training that matches the never-before seen demands of customers struggling in today’s economy.
In this example it might be that:
- The landscape has changed, what used to work no longer does work
5. How to present the knowledge gap
The next step is to use the information in your table to show your customer:
- There’s something you don’t know (that you should)
- It’s not your fault you don’t know this but…
- Not knowing this might lead you to taking this action
- This action could cost you (and leave you Red-Faced and Naked)
You don’t have to keep it in that order, but it’s a good place to start as you practice identifying and agitating your customer’s knowledge gap.
If you want to increase leads and revenue, you need to know that sales software alone will not help.(1) The sales industry constantly tells companies they need software to succeed so it’s easy to believe that once you buy you should soon see a return on your investment (2). What most businesses don’t realise is that it’s not the attraction or tracking of leads that needs attention, but the sales conversation between rep and prospect.(1) Businesses are far more budget-conscious than they were in 2008. If you buy a new sales system (3) but your reps don’t change the way they talk and still can’t close sales, you risk wasting money on software without ever seeing a return (4).
Want to master this in your copy?
The full lesson for writing copy that makes your customers feel red-faced and naked is available within the Write With Influence core course. Write With Influence is an online resources that helps business owners write better marketing content, faster and easier.
The full lesson includes:
- A grid-system to help you plot out at-a-glance your red-faced and naked sales argument
- A workbook to help you brainstorm the answers for your product or service
- Phrases you can use in your copy to make your customer feel like the knowledge gap is costing them something.
When you join Write With Influence today you also get access to the full Cookies and Puppies Irresistible Copywriting Blueprint. You can read more about this copywriting resource here.