Most people are wired to believe what they experience, not what you tell them they will experience. Without actually having their hands on the wheel, and their feet on the pedals,  prospects will never quite get where you want them to go or what you want them to believe.

Why experiential marketing? It stems from experiential learning which is the process of gaining practical or fundamental meaning (knowledge) from direct experience.

According to David A. Kolb, an American educational theorist, knowledge is gained through both personal and environmental experiences. Experience is the key word. Students learn best by doing. When people acquire knowledge by firsthand experience instead of hearing or reading about the experiences or narratives of others, it has more of a meaningful and lasting impact.

Experiential marketing is the application of experiential learning to the marketing of products. It’s one of the best ways to help buyers come upon their Aha! revelation which is essential to the selling process. Emotional engagement is triggered by firsthand experience and learning.

Aha! revelations are the inspirational flash that happens when the customer suddenly“gets it.” And in fact, it can be a physical sensation. Aha! revelations are not associated with logic. Logic has more to do with an individual’s capacity to reason. As an example,  I may strongly believe in the logic that email wastes a lot of time. I “get” what that really means when the email system goes down and I experience work uninterrupted.

Sellers and Marketers can set the stage for prospects to experience Aha! revelations by asking key questions. But you will rarely stimulate those essential aha! moments with statements. That’s because passive listening, by itself, seldom engages the prospect at an emotional level. Engagement is fundamental to emotional response.

It’s when you ask questions—questions that get buyers to really think something through, to visualize the chain of processes, and come up with an answer (or solution) on their own—that the 300 watt light bulbs go off.

How can you use experiential selling to create Aha! revelations?

Video
While not exactly experiential, video can be more engaging if done right. VidYard’s video solution offers a lot of capabilities that bring the viewer into the scenario – like personalizing the video with the prospect’s company or contact name. It also makes it possible to ask questions that get the prospect to think (and that gives you important insight into their need). VidYard’s partnership with SnapApp (see below) makes it possible to have interactive tools pop up that encourage the audience to engage as they watch your video. Very powerful.

ROI Tools
ROI tools that the prospect directly interacts with are often quite effective. But they are much more influential when the buyer actively participates in creating the data input. This self-generated interaction obviously enhances the likelihood the prospect will buy-off on both the calculations and your solution. Alinean’s ValueStory is a great way to deliver customized online interactive content that enables prospects to self-assess challenges, benchmark against peers, and quantify the cost of “do nothing.”

Interactive Marketing Content
Marketing content doesn’t have to be boring (even though a lot of it is). If you’re producing marketing content to help educate or coach your buyers, you’re missing the mark (and perhaps the sale) if you don’t integrate interactivity. There are a number of solutions designed to help you do just that.

SnapApp mentioned above, offers knowledge tests and quizzes, assessment and personality tests, interactive PDF documents, and more. Again, asking questions is the most important element when it comes to creating buyer Aha! moments. Rather, it’s the act of answering those questions that does the trick. So be sure to ask questions that get your prospects to think, not just questions that collect information you need.

ION Interactive also offers tools for interactive marketing as well as a sales enablement solution called Sell-Side that ties the buyer behavior to the contact or opportunity record in Salesforce.

All of the above solutions were named a Smart Selling Tools Top Marketing Tool of 2016.

Your task is to lay the groundwork for buyers to move beyond conceptualization. Experiential and interactive marketing is the key.

About the author

Nancy Nardin

Nancy Nardin is a recognized thought leader on sales technologies and building a sales stack. Smart Selling Tools reviews the latest sales and marketing software across multiple categories, including Inside Sales, Sales Intelligence, Sales Acceleration, Pipeline Management & Deal Flow, and Predictive Sales Analytics. It's been named a Top Sales Blog by HubSpot, and Nancy Nardin has been named alongside Forbes’ top 30 social sales influencers in the world. Follow Nancy on Twitter @sellingtools