The purpose of sales communication is to have the buyer interact with both the sender and the material, to engage around the core issues, transform thinking and activate the buyer to create change.
If your sales letters and proposals look visually boring and are chock-full of features and benefits, and “product-speak” that’s all about you, then it’s time to stop sending them and re-assess what you are trying to achieve.
Do the images you use on your Website, in your sales letter, proposals and sales conversations create clarity or confusion and cause the buyer to turn off as they try to unpack the meaning of all the chart junk, drop shadows, text boxes and block arrows?
A picture is worth a thousand words – and it truly is when it comes to communicating your ideas on your Website, in-person, over the Internet and in a sales letters and proposals.
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More than 50% of the brain is dedicated to processing information in the visual field. The brain processes images differently than it processes words. Simple images are stored as complete objects, no reconstruction or thought process is required to recognize them or understand their meaning.
Collections of images tell stories in context and pre-date written language, with man’s earliest visual images painted on cave walls at Chauvet Cave in the South of France, some 45,000 years ago. These images give an inkling of the sophistication of the human brain and the power of images alone, to tell a story.
Introducing Visual Confections
According to Edward Tufte, Visual Confections are “structures that consist of a multiplicity of image events that illustrate an argument, organize information, show and enforce visual comparisons; they should be transparent, straightforward, obvious, natural, ordinary, conventional…with no need for hesitation or questioning on the part of the viewer.”
When I create a whiteboard story, I am effectively creating a visual confection, consisting of hand drawn images, words and numbers that tell a story, that is ideally meaningful without any explanation.
A day in the life of a Visual Confection used in sales
The exquisite beauty of visual confections is their scalability and adaptability for a multitude of sales and marketing purposes.
The Business Card
Here is an image of my business card, which I created specifically for the HubSpot #Inbound2012 conference in Boston a couple of months ago. Think for a moment about a business card and how it is used. Most of them convey the company brand, the name and role of the person and contact details…that’s it. In a brief exchange of formalities, they are pocketed and either forgotten or trashed in most cases.
But what if you could use a visual confection to convey a great deal of meaning around the services you provide without saying a word, simply by handing a person your business card, with the visual confection side up?
I handed out more than 50 of these cards at the HubSpot event and closely watched as people interacted with the card. In nearly every case they studied it for a couple of seconds and made a comment about the images of relevance to them, or about the use of the visual confection itself… before they turned it over to read the printed side.
So what, you might be thinking. The point is that I have created a visual reference around my services in the mind of the person I just gave the card to, and that itself is a differentiator.
Trade-shows are an essential lead generation channel for thousands of companies Worldwide. In the dental industry for instance, it’s the most effective way of showcasing your wares and salespeople will take million dollar orders on the trade-show floor.
In the tradeshows I attend in the technology business, visitors come thick and fast during the breaks and at lunch and drink’s sessions. You have 20 seconds to hook the visitor and between 2-4 minutes to discover their top issues, tell your story, qualify their interest and get permission for follow-up.
Here is a tradeshow visual confection I have used most effectively for the past couple of years.
This has enough information on it to quickly convey meaning and to allow me to get the big-picture across and to engage the buyer around their issues.
On Websites, in sales calls, Proposals and Sales Letters
I do most of my sales call remotely, but the principle is identical whether in person in a formal office environment, at lunch using the back of a napkin, or sitting next to someone on the plane. Big pictures tell stories.
This whiteboard is how I tell the Advanced Marketing Concepts story, both on my website, in person and in follow up sales communication. I capture buyer issues, convey proof points, drill down on pain and focus the conversation on the areas of most interest to the buyer.
When the sales call is over, I save the image or take a photograph of it and send it to the buyer in a meeting summary letter. The meeting summary letter serves to circulate my big picture ideas to the stakeholders in the buyer’s company and enable me to position my capabilities.
Summary: Visual Storytelling and why you should be using Visual Confections
Visual Storytelling images and visual confections used in sales and marketing create value in the following ways;
- Scale in use and complexity from a 3 second snapshot on a business card to a one hour meeting with a buying committee.
- Convey meaning in their own right, without a talk track.
- Create congruence in sales and marketing communication throughout the buying cycle.
- Help salespeople to articulate their value proposition without using slides.
- Can be used anywhere, any time, with just a pen and paper.
- Help buyers cut through the clutter to get to meaning.
- Are perfect for conveying meaning over the Internet on a phone call, when webconferencing is an issue….just give the buyer the URL to the page.
- Can be animated for use on the Website, or as part of a sales training deliverable with a voice-over using video-scribing
- When used as part of a Whiteboard Selling deliverable help create message ownership within the sales and consulting team to improve sales performance.
- When used in induction programs are effective in rapidly ramping new hires and overcoming call reluctance in the assimilation period.