WOW statements are crafted to invoke a “Wow, tell me more!” or “Wow, how do you do that?” response from the other party.
Upon meeting a new person in a variety of different situations, by far the most common introductory question is “What do you do?” The question is asked more out of instinct and little forethought than by genuine curiosity. Asking what you do is as routine and commonplace as offering up a handshake when you meet someone.
When many people receive the perfunctory “What do you do?” question, they simply react by launching into their well-rehearsed elevator pitch. However, like much business advice today, having an elevator pitch is often stale advice because after a few words, we have frequently lost the attention of the other person.
Rather than deliver an information-packed elevator speech to a less-than-totally receptive person, a WOW statement is designed to make them engage with us and request more information, which leads to a real two-way conversation.
The key to a good WOW statement is:
- Leaving the other person with a level of curiosity that makes them respond with, “Wow, that is so interesting. Tell me more.”
- Creating a powerful image
- Being brief
WOW Statement – Curiosity
The first step in developing a WOW statement-especially in sales situations is to give the prospect just enough information to elicit the right amount of curiosity.
When asked what I do with my small business blog, I borrow a WOW statement from Bill Reichert, the managing directors or Garage Technology ventures and reply,
“I help start up startups.”
This often invokes a follow-up question like:
“Wow, how do you do that?”
WOW Statement – Imagery/Language
If you focus on a particular industry, it is always advisable to create a powerful image using language closely associated with that industry. For example, I have a business that has developed a product to educate investors in the oil and gas industry that assists salespeople. When asked what I do, I often respond:
“My business fracks your sales process and unlocks your investor’s reserves.”
Fracking and reserves are images that oil and gas people can relate to, and is designed to elicit a “Wow, that sounds interesting. Tell me more” response.
A technique to come up with good visual imagery is to go to Google or a stock photo site. Enter a search word or phrase and look at the images that come up for ideas. You need to get a couple of pages deep or start from the end of the list since the first few images are way too literal. What you really want is a visual metaphor that is a bit obscure so you make the prospect intrigued about how to connect your verbal image to what you do.
Another technique is to look for quotes with your keyword. Once you find an acceptable quote, change the quote up by replacing a few words.
The How Answer
Once you have crafted and delivered your opening WOW Statement, you must be prepared with addressing the “How do you do that?” or “Tell me more.” follow up response.
After I deliver my opening WOW statement “I help start up startups“, and have received a “Wow, tell me more” response, I’m prepared to answer the How response with:
“I developed a free database of tools and content that the small business owner can access 24/7 to answer the most commonly asked questions I have answered in nearly two decades of mentoring small businesses.”
In another example after I deliver “My business fracks your sales and unlock your investor’s reserves”, I might respond to their further inquiry for more information with the following:
“I have interviewed scores of nascent oil and gas investors and addressed their most pressing questions in twenty videos that I license to exploration and production companies looking to raise capital for an upcoming drilling program.”
Your reply to the How answer should be limited to one sentence or a few listed items. Brevity is important, as we want a two-way conversation and do not want to talk long enough to make the other person’s mind wander.
Qualify the Lead
Since we often use a WOW statement in a sales situation, the final step after delivering our “How answer” is to get them talking and qualify them as a potential lead. We do this by asking them what they do or ask a probing question. For example, I generally conclude my how answer with;
“Are you a small business owner or thinking about becoming one in the near future?”
“How much time do you or your salespeople think that you waste each year educating prospective oil and gas investors about topics that are basic and common to any drilling program, and not specific to your project?”
This final qualifying question engages the other party in a more meaningful and two-way conversation. Moreover, based on their answer I know pretty quickly if I should spend more time with them or move on.
WOW Statement Conclusion
The initial WOW Statement should:
- Create curiosity to the degree that they ask “Tell me more” or “How do you do it”
- Invoke a visual image and include language that the prospect will understand
- Be short. I often tell my clients it needs to fit into either a headline or a twitter post, but no longer.
You should prepare a “How answer” response that it one sentence or no more than three bullets.
You should qualify the lead to determine if you should continue to invest time into the relationship.
Finally, the entire process, like an elevator pitch should take fewer than 30 seconds to deliver all three parts.
WOW Statement Bonus
Obviously, if you are approached out of the blue by a stranger who asks, “What do you do?” all you can do is deliver your WOW statement and hope for the best. However, if you are granted an audience with a prospect and have some time to prepare, you can use showmanship to make an even bigger WOW statement.
A while back I was asked to speak on a panel about overcoming adversity. To make my opening remark stand out from the rest of the panelists, I employed the use of a small brown paper bag and placed it conspicuously in front of the microphone. While other speakers were giving their opening remarks, I was sure the people in the audience were curious about the contents of the bag.
When it was time for me to make my opening remarks, I pointed out that the story of David and Goliath was about overcoming adversity, and that it was about what I call “Employing the Underdog Strategy,” which I said would relate to the game Rock-Paper-Scissors later on in the program.
As I delivered that line I opened up the bag to produce-you guessed it-a rock, some paper, and a pair of scissors that I left sitting in front of me. I left the audience in suspense wondering how the rock-paper-scissors game was related to the story of David and Goliath, which created the “WOW, tell me more” response in everyone’s head until it was my time to relate my story.
There is a good video by Nathan Gold on how to create a WOW statement.
What is your WOW statement?
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