Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Think Executives Are Purely Rational Decision-Makers? Think Again.

A myth has long swirled around the topic of executive decision-making, and it stems from the broad and untested perception that executives are strictly rational agents—logical and analytical in their approach to business decisions.

Now that we’ve put that premise to the test, we can also put that perception to its rest. Because it’s not true. New research from Corporate Visions reveals that intuitions and emotions have far more sway over the executive decision-making process than many sellers—or executives, for that matter—realize.

The study—which had 113 executive participants from a wide array of industries, including software, oil, finance and aerospace—yielded many unexpected findings about how much emotions influence executive buying decisions. Perhaps most compelling among them was the idea that you can provide executives with the exact same “math” with respect to a business proposition, but get significantly different results depending on how you frame the situation.

Specifically, the study tested the principle of loss aversion, an idea pioneered by social psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, which says that people are more willing to make a change or seek a risk to avoid a loss than to acquire a gain.

The study revealed that executives, across both personal and professional scenarios, are not exempt from this principle. They demonstrate a far greater appetite for the “risky choice” when you simply change the way you frame the scenario.

Words trump math!

Purely rational decision-makers executives are not! To learn more about the study and its findings—and what implications they may have for your message development and delivery—check out this article in based on the research we did with our partner, persuasion expert, Dr. Zakary Tormala.

Read the article here.

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Why the Best Story Wins

Why do customers choose you?

That’s the question we recently asked the market, hoping to get an idea about what factors actually create differentiation.

So, what is it? Products? Price? Brand reputation?

How about none of the above. Nearly two-thirds of respondents ranked sales conversations as the most important factor in creating competitive differentiation. That’s nearly 20 percentage points higher than product quality/innovation, ranked as the second most important factor.

The implication is clear: Great customer conversations come down to a great story, and the best story, told the best way, wins every time.

A great story stems from an awareness that your prospects are resistant to doing something different from what they’re doing today. In other words, your biggest enemy isn’t your other competitors, but your buyer’s status quo. That means marketers and salespeople need to develop and deliver a “why change” story that gives prospects a pathway to change that’s compelling, actionable, and—most importantly—can help them overcome the business challenges that are hurting them today.

Below are four steps to help structure a great “why change” story across your messaging, content and skills – one that guides prospects on a pathway to a new and safer alternative to their current situation.

  • Step One: Lead with an Insight – Tell your prospect something they don’t know about a problem or missed opportunity they didn’t know they had, revealing inconsistencies or uncertainties in the way they’re doing business today. This is the basic idea behind a messaging approach based on “unconsidered needs.” Research from Corporate Visions shows that this approach—instead of the traditional “voice of the customer” approach, where you respond only to the needs your prospects tell you they have—can give you a statistically significant advantage in the area of differentiation.
  • Step Two: Disrupt the status quo – Show your prospects why their status quo situation is unsafe and untenable. Highlight visually—ideally, with a whiteboard-style presentation—how sticking with the status quo could prevent prospects from realizing their most crucial business goals.
  • Step Three: Tie your prospect’s unsafe current situation to a “new safe scenario – You can do this by depicting a contrasting pathway that resolves the issues you’ve identified. That resolution point is key. Research from Corporate Visions shows that creating risk around your prospect’s current situation isn’t compelling enough to incite buyers to change. To make your message actionable, you need to link the factors that make their current situation risky with a resolution alternative that can solve these business challenges. The Corporate Visions study shows that you can make a bigger impact on the factors that drive buyer action by delivering a story that resolves the risks you’ve identified.
  • Step Four: Prove it – Finish your story by highlighting a comparable scenario where you helped another company find a “new safe” through your solution. Once again, if you’re in the field, create a sharp visual contrast between the pain that company was experiencing in its status quo situation and the value and relief they gained by switching to yours.

For more on how to tell a “why change” story that disrupts the status quo with principles rooted in decision-making science, check out this eBook at

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