sales article: man vs. machine
David Peterson's: Sales Article


November 18, 2009

By David Peterson

Editor -

Owner - Atlanta Sales and Consulting

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Paint the Picture

In the sales process you will eventually (hopefully) get to a point where you are "pitching" your product or service to the prospect. Getting the prospect off the fence and signing on the dotted line can be a challenge.

There is an advance selling method that can used to help the prospect SEE themselves using your product. It is called Painting the Picture. When you paint the picture the customer will envision themselves with the product, however I call this an advance sales method because your only tool is... your words.

How do you verbally convey in words the actions that will allow the prospect to virtually use your product?

Some types of sales professions have it a little easier. As an example a car salesman wants you to drive the car. If they can just get you in the car you will see, feel and smell the experience. It is just fun to drive a new car, and boy do you look good in it.

Department store salespeople have the same advantage. If they can get you to try on the suit or dress then there is a pretty good chance you will buy it. Rarely does someone buy a suite or a dress without trying it on.

But what about telesales or products that are so big or intangible that you can't try them on or test drive them before you buy? You can't "try on" a railcar, or a gas turbine. And in telesales you can't reach trough the phone and hand your product to the prospect.

No problem - do it virtually. Paint the picture for the prospect.

Here's how to set it up. There are three perspectives when you speak or write. You have 1st person (I/We), 2nd person (You), or 3rd person (he/she/it/they).

Every salesperson has probably used the Feel, Felt, Found method of telling their story. This is 1st or 3rd person describing a situation in person or face to face. As an example:

"I feel that given the specifications we may not have exactly what is required, but I have felt that in the past this has not really been and issue, because I found that the specifications never match exactly what my customer needs, and I am here to solve those needs."

Feel, felt, found are great statements but they don't get the customer involved. They don't place the customer in the product. They place the caller in the product or someone else (he/she/they) not the person that we want to use the product.

You have to practice using the perspective of 2nd person to place the customer using your product. (Remember the 2nd person perspective is You, not... I/we/she/he/they/it) Here is an example using the same situation as above only this time it's being done over the phone:

"Jim you had these specifications written to ensure a smooth transition to the new plant. I can do all of it except this one piece that you and I can probably work around. Now imagine this, I will have you up and running in your plant, where you and your employees are producing your exact product within two weeks. Can you explain what happens if you are not up and running with two weeks?"

The power in this advance selling method is the prospect gets to feel his pain or enjoy his ride without actually using the product. By using the 2nd person perspective the prospect is placed in the pitch. When you paint the picture you allow the prospect to SEE what happens without them actually being there.

This takes practice. We don't typically speak or write in the 2nd person perspective. I hope I have shown why it is important to do so whenever possible. Always get your customer in the car whenever possible. If you can't physically put them in then I suggest that you verbally paint the picture and virtually place them in that car.

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