I find a lot of parallels between ideas, sales, and what is known in writing as The Hero’s Journey. The Hero’s Journey was a concept shared by Joseph Campell, a professor in literature who primarily worked in comparative mythology and religion. Campbell identified a common story arc containing multiple stages that runs through every compelling adventure myth and legend which he dubbed The Hero’s Journey.
Modern writers use this same story structure to create the world’s most popular books and movies. Once you know the structure it almost spoils movies for you, because you can see how the trick is done. Keep a copy of the The Hero’s Journey in front of you and watch Star Wars. Then watch The Wizard of Oz. Then watch Raiders of the Lost Ark. You’ll easily be able to identify each of the phases within The Hero’s Journey. I’d argue that the better the movie — the more clean and uncluttered the story is, the more closely it follows The Hero’s Journey.
The very first stage the primary protagonist encounters is called The Call To Adventure
This is when our hero’s normal, mundane, day-to-day existence is shattered by the arrival of exciting and unexpected new information. When Frodo gets the ring, when Luke finds the hidden message from Leia within R2-D2, when Alice sees the White Rabbit with his waistcoat and pocket watch… the characters all have the option to ignore this new information and go back to their normal world (which is what usually happens for at least awhile in a stage called “Refusal Of The Call” until they encounter the “Meeting with the Mentor” stage) — but it is when they move on to the stage called “Crossing the Threshold” when they commit to their new reality and set off on their adventure.
I believe that this same Hero’s Journey structure works incredibly well when pitching a prospect or client on any new idea.
A great proposal always leads off by recapping your original conversation with the client and confirming the challenge you both agreed on that is facing their company. This is to make certain that the idea you’re about to pitch is focused on the subject you thought it was (no use pitching an idea that doesn’t solve a problem for your client!)
At this point you are essentially showing them their “normal world”.
The way their reality currently exists.
Now you’re going to begin positioning your big idea — the exciting and unexpected new information that can change their world (if they choose to accept your Call To Adventure).
Remember to expect some initial resistance.
The Hero’s Journey arc calls for the protagonist to initially refuse the Call — but then they have a Meeting With The Mentor which convinces them to cross the threshold and begin their adventure.
In Star Wars, Luke’s visit to Old Ben Kenobi served as the mentor meeting. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy met with Glinda. And in Harry Potter it’s Dumbledore in the mentor role.
And in the presentation to your customer — YOU are in the role of mentor.
You must guide and advise the hero (your customer) on the choices that are best for them — which if you’ve done your research and needs analysis correctly — should be accepting your proposal and crossing the threshold into a new and exciting world!
Many salespeople think they are the Hero in the interactions with their customers. After all, you want to be able to come to their rescue and save the day — but the really effective sales professionals know that the role of a trusted advisor (The Mentor) truly has the most influence with a client.
Do you want someone to treat you as the hero of the story?
If you’ve recently encountered some exciting and unexpected news that has changed your world, and you’re trying to decide whether or not to cross the threshold — you need a Meeting With the Mentor. I’m happy to play that role for you with a new service I am offering named “The Call To Adventure“. It’s a quick 15-minute phone call where we discuss any new opportunities you’ve been wanting to explore and I listen, ask questions, and help guide you toward making your choice. Click here for details and to reserve your session!