Persuasive Images

By Heather Baldwin

Sales presentations are all about persuasion. So what better way to persuade than through the creation of positive images in your buyer’s mind – a big promotion, money saved, elegantly swooshing down the side of a mountain on a new pair of skis. When you can get a prospect to correlate these types of images with you and your product you’ve harnessed the power of association and gone a long way towards making the sale, says Roger Dawson, author of Secrets of Power Persuasion for Salespeople (Career Press, 2003).

Here’s how the power of association works. Dawson recalls a salesperson who invited him to play golf at the beautiful Coto de Caza Golf Club in Orange County, CA. “A golf course is a good place to build association power with a potential customer,” he explains. “With luck, I would always associate him and his company with the fine feeling I would get from that round of golf.” Unfortunately for the salesperson, the course turned out to be one of the toughest in the country. Dawson lost two balls and took 10 strokes to sink his ball – and that was on the first hole. It went downhill from there. Try as he might, Dawson says he can’t disassociate that miserable day from the salesperson and his company.

How does this apply to presentations? Dawson recommends spending time during your presentation creating positive images so that when your customers think of your product they will have warm feelings that ultimately help persuade them to buy. You do that by painting a picture of the customer using your product and, because of that product, experiencing feelings of joy, pride, success, relaxation – whatever feeling you determine to be of importance to that customer.

For example, say you sell ski equipment. The vast majority of customers will spend $1,000 on new equipment not because of all the technical advances, but for the joy of zooming down a mountainside on a crystal clear morning, says Dawson. So translate the technology into a mental image of swooshing down the mountain and your prospect will associate your product with a compelling, positive image that is the precursor to a buying decision. Similarly, most individuals will buy financial consulting services not because of the consultant’s investment strategies but because the client imagines being financially secure in retirement, enjoying favorite activities without concern for income as a result of that consultant’s efforts. “Power persuaders know how to associate their message with pleasurable images in the buyer’s mind,” says Dawson. Once you can do that, the sale is just a step away.