Sales Technique: Create Visualization, Change the Conversation
It’s dinner time and you are famished. You weren’t hungry for Chinese food until someone said the trigger words, “Chinese food,” and now you can’t get it out of your mind. So, with an intense craving that didn’t exist 10 seconds ago, you pile into the car and head down to that new Asian hotspot everyone is talking about.
After being seated, the drink order is placed and menus cracked open. Reading the food options and their creative descriptions, you are just as confused as everyone else at the table. What the heck is Bang Bang Ji and Dou Ban Yu?
Just when you think you’re reading the names of Star Wars villains, the manager walks over with different menus - ones with pictures. Suddenly, the problem is solved. Interpretation of each food option is easier now that you can see what you are ordering.
Someone has done your thinking for you and helped you visualize your choices.
Arriving home full of MSG, you flip on the TV and catch the last few minutes of the game. The clock is ticking away when a timeout is called, so the broadcast breaks for a commercial.
It’s an ad for a Nissan Maxima. Vroom, vroom goes the sparkling car, zipping across the screen and coming to a screeching halt just as the announcer says, “Now you can get a Nissan Maxima for $249 a month. Visit your local dealer today.” Despite the fact that you are not in the market for a car, you think to yourself, “$249 a month? That’s not bad!” and your mind starts mentally replacing your perfectly good vehicle.
Someone has done your thinking for you and changed your thought process.
Paint a Colorful Picture
Both of these examples are demonstrations of a sales pitch where the selling party has done more than just spit out a description and a price. They’ve painted a picture using colors instead of a black-and-white description.
They’ve helped the potential customer to visualize and, in doing so, changed the conversation from “Are you hungry?” to “Doesn’t this look delicious?” and from “Do you need a new car?” to “Imagine this bad boy in your driveway.” The result is the desired action: a purchase.
Although we are in the graphic arts, it might as well be known as the visual arts since the result of our work is a sight to behold. But if the customer can’t visualize the outcome, we are just as confusing as Bang Bang Ji reads on a Chinese menu.
We need to do our customers’ thinking for them. We need to change the conversation.
For example, let’s say your prospecting efforts are rewarded and, finally, the customer picks up the phone and says the magic word: “Hello?” Quickly getting over your astonishment, you state the purpose of your call - to help the company with its marketing through the various solutions your company offers.
But your excitement is short-lived as the client responds, “We don’t have the money for marketing at this time. Thank you for calling.” Click! All that hard work and nothing to show for it. But let’s back up and try again …
Change the Conversation
What if you had prefaced the sales pitch with a “menu” of sorts? Let’s suppose you put a flyer together that listed three different price points: $499, $999 and $1,999. Each dollar amount represented the cost of a different combination of printed products. The $499 amount might buy 100 color copies, five posters and a banner. For $999, the customer could add 500 direct mail postcards and the cost of postage. The $1,999 option might include things like promotional products, presentation folders and five hours of design time.
If the flyer were put together in such a way that the recipient could see a photo showing the contents of each price point, not only is a followup phone call more likely to be answered, but the subsequent conversation would be less about “We don’t need marketing” and more about “I like the middle option, but can I make changes?”
Now you are in the desired conversation (as discussed in last month’s column).
Or what if you created some content and posted it on your website? For example, case studies in the form of YouTube videos describing how you helped with a product launch. Or a white paper titled, “Five Money-Wasting Mistakes Companies Make at Trade Shows.”
Incoming calls from prospects who had viewed this material instantly become top-tiered opportunities because they have identified you as the solution to a problem they are having.
You did their thinking for them.
One of the most useless and frustrating answers to the question, “Can you describe what you’re looking for?” is “I don’t know what it looks like, but I’ll know it when I see it.” What exactly does one do with that information?
“Okay, I’ll tell you what I will do. I’ll spend hours creating multiple solutions and throw them all against the wall. You let me know if any of these ideas stick. Deal?” The only thing that they know for sure is their current business need and the solution presently in place.
Sales Tool for Prospecting
Salespeople would be well-advised to carry a portfolio of samples and stories with them. In addition to bringing a pad of paper and pen to sales calls, a three-ring binder containing print solutions gives the rep a chance to be anecdotal and to paint a picture for the prospective customer.
This “do your customers’ thinking for them” concept is particularly true when it comes to digital printing. Contrary to what the vendors once told us, there is no untapped market.
No one was waiting for digital output to be discovered and lines did not form out the door moments after equipment was installed that allowed print shops to print directly from an electronic file.
What it took was education and visual prompts.
Another way to get this thinking to work in your favor is to help your “third party sales force” to conceptualize and sell what you offer. For example, suppose you wanted to sell to event planners - a vertical market that buys a fair amount of printed material. Simply calling to introduce yourself can only come across as, “I print the kinds of things that you provide your customers. Can I give you a price?” Again, the wrong conversation results.
But what if you sent pictures of ideas that they can bring to their customers? By doing their thinking for them, you are aiding in the sale and helping the end user to see something they otherwise would never visualize on their own. This approach works for ad agencies as well.
The next time you are sitting at home watching television and a commercial comes on for a new car or truck, take stock of the emotion that hits you during those last seconds when a lease price is shown on-screen.
Unless you are already in the market for a new vehicle, you will likely start watching the ad annoyed that your show is being interrupted. But, once seeing that affordable lease payment option, you’ll likely have the exact kind of reaction that was intended by the advertiser: desire.
You can create desire of your own, but you will need to start talking in colors.