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Sales From Pop Culture: Cobra Kai

How the latest hit show is a terrific lesson in storytelling

Have you watched Cobra Kai yet? I absolutely love it, and my wife and I have been watching since it came out a couple years ago.

But I’ll try and keep my fandom down a bit, and focus on what we can learn from it.

Because it serves a tremendous lesson for sales.

What’s the lesson?

𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙋𝙤𝙬𝙚𝙧 𝙤𝙛 𝙎𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙮𝙩𝙚𝙡𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙜

To catch you up if you haven’t seen it: Cobra Kai is a continuation of the Karate Kid movies from the ’80s.

Same characters, same storyline. However, it’s more grown up, just like it’s audience.

Meaning there’s cursing, plenty of scenes of alcoholics, and in general a bit more gruff than the movies.

And it’s incredible.

The difference? They completely switched the protagonist and the antagonist.

WHAT?!?

So the “bad guy” is now the “good guy” and the “good guy” is now the “bad guy”?

Yup.

How can they make everybody’s sweetheart, Daniel Larusso, (Daniel-san himself!) someone we root against?

And even crazier, how can they make Johnny, he who purposefully injured Daniel and tried to break his leg just to win, a sympathetic figure?

Storytelling.

When you learn the backstory, understand the motivations, and can relate, you sympathize with that person.

In the Karate Kid, we follow Daniel, we learn all about his story, his motivations, why he does what he does. We connect to his drive and his ambitions, we relate to his challenges in our own lives, and we pull for him because of it.

But in Cobra Kai, they flipped it on us. And they did it brilliantly.

We follow Johnny (mostly, there is plenty of Daniel too). And Johnny is the classic “peaked in high school” story. Now he’s down and out living in a low rent apartment, while Daniel owns a big business and lives in a mansion in the hills.

The writers masterfully get us pulling for Johnny, even though he makes plenty of mistakes and falls in to several of his old ways.

Yet we are still hoping to see him succeed.

The storytelling is powerful indeed.

So: how well are you telling your story?

In sales I call your own story your “Personal Why” – why is it you do what you do.

When your prospects learn your Personal Why, they’re more likely to sympathize with you, and trust you.

It’s even been proven that prospects want to hear about you. People buy from people, and they need to know who you are.

Yet too many times salespeople don’t go so far as introducing themselves.

Don’t let that happen to you.

Craft the telling of your story, show the history and the struggles, then the things you’re trying to accomplish. Soon enough your prospects will be pulling for you to succeed. And they’ll be on your side, connected to you, and much more likely to close.

Do this, and become the sensei!

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