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Metaphorically Selling by Anne Miller

This article was inspired by Anne Miller's Metaphorically Selling . If you enjoy this article then consider purchasing or borrowing the book.

How to Use Metaphors in Business

“Metaphors are among the most powerful weapons of mass understanding and retention you have to wield on the plain of competing products, services, and ideas.”

In an information age, where consumers are constantly ambushed by ads and data, metaphors can capture a person’s attention and help you inform them or sell to them. Persuasive language relies on colorful imagery, which thrives in the world of the metaphor. Why does the metaphor “computer crash” have a more potent effect on the listener than the phrase “laptop failure?”

Human beings are naturally inclined to love stories. From oral traditions to the advent of the printing press, narratives have inspired audiences since the birth of humanity. When selling a product, facts and figures can satisfy the left side of the human brain, but both sides need to be engaged if you want to sell successfully. Storytelling affects the right side of the human brain and engages peoples’ creativity.

Metaphors have five valuable applications for the salesperson:

  1. Relaxing an uptight customer.
  2. Distracting the buyer from the product’s shortcomings.
  3. Keeping the listener interested
  4. Relieving the customer’s worries and aversion to confusing business concepts.
  5. Developing harmony between the salesperson and consumer.

When creating your own original metaphors, avoid clichés and parallels with negative connotations. Use these four steps to create a personalized metaphor:

  1. “Determine the client’s blindspot” – Develop a metaphor that will allow your client to see the benefits of your product as you see it. The fear of change and anxieties over price can prevent your customer from seeing the value in your commodity.
  2. “Take a snapshot of your client” – Match your metaphor to the client’s experiences. This metaphor is for them, not you.
  3. “Create you metaphor” – Use your customer’s snapshot to personalize a metaphor that will destroy his or her blindspot, opening up their eyes to the usefulness of your product.
  4. “Relate” – If your client asks how your metaphor relates to their circumstances, be prepared to give an answer.

Metaphors can open up clients to your products in unimaginable ways. They can turn dull data into strong motivating factors. When an indecisive buyer can’t choose between two options, your persuasive language can help them make up their minds. You can minimize your opposition or open up a closed-minded person with the help of metaphors.

The best way to master metaphors is to observe their usage in the world around you. From sports to politics, pop culture and the media are loaded with metaphorical language. Keep track of interesting anecdotes and especially humorous metaphors. Finally, develop a palette of usable metaphors and practice with them. When you have sharpened these tools, selling products will be a walk in the park.


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