John O' Gorman

Capturing Your Buyer’s Imagination

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A sales person can provide the buyer with all the information in the world, but if the buyer can’t imagine the seller’s solution in their business there will be no sale. Capturing the buyer’s imagination is an important part of winning the sale.

Buyer Imagination

We traditionally associate imagination with poets, writers and artists, yet it plays a vital role in all human activity including business buying decisions. That means it must play an important role in selling too.

Why Buyers Require Imagination

In a fast paced and highly innovative world managers must envision new products, channels and markets – ones that may be greatly different from the past, or the present. They must imagine the future of their customers, propositions and competitors.

Indeed the requirement for imaginative strategies and solutions in business would appear to be greater than ever before with four out of five CEOs predicting that major changes or bold moves are imminent for their companies according to a recent IBM study.

Do you help buyers to envision your solution in the context of the future of their business?

Increased business complexity combined with increased marketplace uncertainty mean that imagination, once the preserve of artists and day dreamers, is now seen as key to business decision making. This is evident from the number of Business Universities offering creativity and creative thinking courses to their students.

Decision Making Under Uncertainty

A buyer can easily analyze the past or the present – in terms of requirements, prices and suppliers. But that is not enough. In a time of change the past is a poor guide to the future. Analyzing the past must go hand in hand with imagining the future.

Do you know what the buyer dreams of for their business, project or team?

The imagination is key to answering ‘what if’ and ‘why’ questions. It is key to forecasting benefits, predicting performance and planning for change. It is the imagination the helps a buyer to process:

  • Possibilities and alternatives
  • Simulations and scenarios
  • Forecasting and predictions
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Assessments of uncertainty and risk.

All this has implications for sellers. Quite simply if the buyer can’t imagine your solution in their business there will be no sale.

The Newly Discovered Role Of The Imagination

Beyond logic and numbers beyond the five senses is the imagination – a powerful aide to decision making.

How do you captivate the buyer’s imagination?

The dictionary defines imagination as ‘the power to create in one’s mind’. But such a definition belies its importance in our decisions including business and buying decisions.

While salespeople don’t typically describe buyers as being creative and imaginative, cognitive research has revealed the true nature of the imagination and its vital role in how decisions are made. Applying it to the buying decision, tells us that:

  • Imagination is powerful in terms of its ability to stimulate the buyer with passion and emotion.
  • Creativity, innovation and inventiveness are linked to imagination on the part of the buyer.
  • Logic and analysis in the buying decision go hand in hand with imagination.
  • Imagination shapes what information gets filtered out and what actually gets through.
  • The buyer’s expectations are shaped by the imagination.
  • Imagination is not neutral, it is shaped by emotions etc.
  • Imagination is fueled by the buyer’s hopes and fears, dreams and desires.
  • What is vividly imagined with repetition can have the semblance of reality.
  • Imagination is visual – it leverages the visual wiring that accounts for up to 50% of the brain.

Every innovation from the internet to the iPhone has been spawned by imagination. It began with an entrepreneur or innovator seeking to imagine a better way. Where there is no imagination there is no creativity or innovation and in the present fast changing market place that spells death.

Learning From Politicians

Our politicians and prophets know only too well the power of appealing to the imagination. The politician with a vision that appeals to the masses inevitably wins out over the candidate with a well researched policy paper.

The winning politician offer a compelling vision – appealing directly to people’s hopes and fears – to their imagined future. That is something sellers can learn too.

How well do you connect with your buyer’s hopes and fears?

The seller’s equivalent of the struggling politicians policy paper is the lengthy sales proposal, or detailed technical manual. These are important in the sale, but they are unlikely to capture the buyer’s imagination.

Selling With Imagination

The salesperson must tap into the buyers imagination in order to sell his, or her product/service/solution. That requires:

  • Understanding the buyer’s hopes and fears
  • Shaping the buyer’s expectations
  • Brainstorming ideas and exploring alternatives
  • Unleashing the buyer’s creativity
  • Fuelling the buyer’s imagination
  • Helping the buyer to envision the future
  • Helping the buyer to break with the past
  • Encouraging innovation on the part of the buyer
  • Challenging the buyer’s assumptions or old ways of thinking.

Helping The Buyer To Envision Success

The seller must be more imaginative in exploring problems and proposing solutions. He, or she must help the buyer to envision the future success of his or her project team or department with their solution. If the buyer cannot imagine your solution in his her business then no sale.

How imaginative are you in your approach to developing ‘the ideal solution’ for the buyer?

He or she must help the buyer to vividly imagine increased personal and professional success, whether that means more sales, more savings or any other goals.

Of course the seller may at times want to keep the buyer’s imagination in-check, ensuring that expected outcomes and perceptions of risk are grounded in logical analysis.

So how will you tap into the buyer’s imagination – helping to create a compelling vision of your product or solution in their business?

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