2 minutes
September 13, 2022

Storytelling in sales: Defining the villain

Every good story needs a villain. The story you create with your outbound messages is no different. Let's define the villain in your buyer's journey.
Daniel Rood
Table of Contents

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There are three elements needed in every message that sellers send to prospects to tell a compelling story. Aligning a value proposition of your product or service to include the roles of Heros, Villains, and Guides will help you create great stories that connect with a prospective customer.

I've talked about the importance of narrative structure in sales messages and discussed how sales professionals are not the Hero in a buyer's journey; let's talk about Villains.

Great storytelling needs a great villain

Without a proper Villain, a story has no power. Your outreach will also have no power when prospecting unless you properly voice the customer's pain.

Many sellers minimize a customer's pain points or outright avoid talking about it because it can feel uncomfortable. But, avoiding talking about these problems makes cold outreach, or any sales pitch, less effective.

Let's look at a classic Hero vs. Villain story to highlight the importance of defining a villain to make your prospects feel seen.

When Luke Skywalker, the Hero overcomes his Villain, Dark Vader, he deals with three layers of a problem. These problems are apparent in nearly every story you engage in or movie you watch:

  • ‍External Problem - The literal or physical obstacle in front of the Hero.
  • Internal Problem - The way the literal obstacle makes the Hero feel. The emotional problem.
  • Philosophical Problem - The way the problem correlates to the greater world. "The world should not be this way" is part of the problem.

In this case, Luke Skywalker has an External problem. He has to face a Villain that outmatches him. Luke's internal problem is that he is conflicted that he has to face a more experienced Jedi. But also that his Villain is his father. Luke also then faces the Philosophical problem. That he should not live in a world where the Empire oppresses the poor and helpless.

Less dramatically, your prospects also have problems with layers. Therefore, when you engage prospects, you have the opportunity to voice the layers of their problems in your cold outreach to create a good story.

  • ‍External Problem - Voice your customer's literal pain.
  • Internal Problem - Voice how the literal pain is making the customers feel. This is critical. Are they frustrated, stuck, or in danger of losing their job? Voice the emotion of their Villain.
  • Philosophical Problem - Voice the greater injustice of your prospect's pain. "The world should not be like this."

Prospects want to hear from sellers who identify their pain explicitly. Don't be afraid to take a chance to voice the pain of your customers to open their minds & heart to your solution. Β 

Now that you know about the Heros and Villains of customer stories, it's time to learn that sales reps fit into the story as arguably the most important character: the trusted Guide.

Learn how to become your buyer's Guide Β»