Becoming Quotable: Win Themes

By Rachel Cavallo on Sep 2, 2014

2 Minute Estimated Read Time

Today, I read an article whose headline suggested it would tell me why some movie lines are more quotable than others. I thought I could learn something useful that might apply to my world. I could uncover the formula that would transform sales presentations from dull and boring to memorable and quotable… the possibilities! Unfortunately, the author’s conclusion was that no one really knows why some lines are more quotable than others. Wow – that was anticlimactic. So, I started Googling…

It turns out there has been a bit of research on this topic – some related to the psychology of people connecting through shared experiences (“Hey – I loved that movie, too!”) and some related to the structure of the quote and how repeatable it was. In fact, a Cornell study* suggested that the use of pronouns in quotes, like “You had me at ‘Hello,’” meant that anyone could repeat them, thus increasing the frequency of use, and they were generic enough to be used in a multitude of situations.

Now, without having done much research on the topic… other than taking accounting classes from a compulsive movie quoter (shout out to CJ Skender, who worked tirelessly at trying to make accounting interesting) and working with another one who claims his compulsion is a genetic disorder… I have a few more theories. First, it’s my observation that generally more popular quotes come from the middle to end of the movie where viewers are highly engaged and invested (“Nobody puts Baby in a corner”… “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”). Second, I think the most popular quotes strike a chord within us – they are either a uniquely phrased expression of what we frequently think (“Show me the money!”), or surely they provide humor that can give us a jolt of levity each time we recall them (“Don’t call me Shirley”).

So, what can we do with these musings, and how is this possibly relevant to a sales blog? Let’s talk about the win themes we recommend you use throughout your sales process. Win themes should be the 3-5 most memorable messages your customers recall from your sales efforts when they make their buying decisions. Now, what can we learn from popular movie quotes that will help us to build better win themes?

  • Get your buyers to truly hear and internalize your win themes – don’t start meetings with win themes. Engage your buyers, get them invested in what you have to say, and then introduce your win themes when your buyers are leaning in to learn more.
  • Make your win themes strike a chord deep within the buyer. Skip your jargon and use their language, weave in elements that relate to their experience, and create a vision in their minds.
  • Make your win themes easy to remember and repeat from the buyer’s perspective.
  • Add some levity to the conversation, if you can. A win theme tied to a light analogy or humorous story may relax your buyers, make them smile, and take them back to that positive energy when they remember the message later in the buying process.

Can we guarantee it will work? Well, courtesy of my compulsive moving-quoting colleague, we’ll leave you with this…

Let’s think about this for a sec, Ted. Why would somebody put a guarantee on a box? Hmmm, very interesting…Go on, I’m listening…Here’s the way I see it, Ted. Guy puts a fancy guarantee on a box ’cause he wants you to feel all warm and toasty inside… Yeah, makes a man feel good… ‘Course it does. Why shouldn’t it? Ya figure you put that little box under your pillow at night, the Guarantee Fairy might come by and leave a quarter, am I right, Ted?… What’s your point?… The point is, how do you know the fairy isn’t a crazy glue sniffer? “Building model airplanes” says the little fairy; well, we’re not buying it. He sneaks into your house once, that’s all it takes. The next thing you know, there’s money missing off the dresser, and …”

Well, you probably know the rest!


Topics: sales process

Rachel Cavallo

Written by Rachel Cavallo

If there’s anyone who understands how sales people tick, it’s Rachel Cavallo. Rachel specializes in strategies that drive sales forces to adopt real change… the kind of change that produces results. She has managed many sales force transformations, helping sales leaders realign organizations and define new selling models, as well as designed and delivered sales training, coaching, and change management programs. At Symmetrics Group, Rachel is loved for her creativity and big picture thinking – she has a knack for crystallizing complex concepts into a single picture with high impact messages.

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