Mark Richardson: Make it visual

Your biggest competition today is your prospect making the right decisions and choices. They have been sitting on the sideline so long that the level of pent-up demand is very high. Meanwhile, the proliferation of products and choices has many homeowners paralyzed.

July 01, 2013

Today your biggest competition is not other remodelers, it is not other big purchases in your prospects’ lives, and it is not fear of investing in their homes. Your biggest competition today is your prospect making the right decisions and choices. They have been sitting on the sideline so long that the level of pent-up demand is very high. Meanwhile, the proliferation of products and choices has many homeowners paralyzed.

Homeowners tend to see and think visually. You have heard the adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” This couldn’t be any more true today. With technology, we tend to gravitate toward fewer words as the pace of life forces us to speak in sound bites to communicate. While this may be efficient, it is not always effective. Based on our busy schedules, we tend to send an email rather then drive over and meet with the prospect to discuss important decisions. With this dynamic we need to focus more on how we communicate rather than just what we are communicating.

Remodelers tend to be visual thinkers and doers. We work with blueprints, photographs, and flow charts. Many of your clients also understand visuals much better than words or concepts. If you can master the “make it visual” mindset, you will speed up the decision process, increase sales and close rates, and create a less stressed client.

The following are a few “make it visual” techniques to begin to master. Many techniques, when mastered, will become important differentiators between you and your competition—who believes communication is “all about words.”

1. Diagrams

Many years ago, I would describe our design-build process in words. After meeting with a prospect they would ask, “Now what is your process?” I would explain it again. They would eventually give me a check. After the first design meeting they would say, “Now how does your process work?” Finally, I realized that it was the way I was communicating, not the process itself. So when describing our three-step process, I would draw a simple diagram showing the three steps and which deliverables were provided with each step. They not only stopped asking questions but more people also proceeded to sign the design contract. By using a simple diagram, they could see where we were now and the process of getting to their dream—a finished remodeling project. There are many ways to use diagrams rather than words. You can illustrate budgeting with a diagram. You can show them the flow of the construction with a diagram. You can also show how different team members work together with a diagram. The goal is effective communication. You own it, not your clients.

2. Your website

A good website today is a necessity, not an option. It makes you look both professional but also bigger than you might be; however, the real question is how you are using the website, not whether you have one. In the spirit of the “make it visual” theme, your website may be one of your best tools or techniques. I have polled many remodelers with a simple question: What percentage of the time is your client or prospect at their computer when they are speaking to you over the phone? The answer is 80 percent of the time. Begin to master the use of your website while you are on the phone. Ask your client if they are near a computer and have them you pull up your website. They immediately have a different experience on the phone. You can reference visually what you are talking about. They can look at other interesting things and ask questions that you would not have predicted. The relationship with you moves to a higher level, and their comfort in the remodeling subject improves as well.

3. Metaphors

While a picture is worth a thousand words, a metaphor is worth a thousand pictures. Your client today is very smart, but they are ignorant when it comes to remodeling. A great way to address ignorance is to share a metaphor of a world they understand. We do this in normal conversation, but begin to more consciously master the use of metaphors. The best metaphors to use are ones they understand; for example, if your client has purchased a vehicle, you might use the metaphor of different levels of vehicles when describing the type of companies or products. If a client is into sports, you might describe different players on your team like different positions on a football or baseball team. You might even use metaphors about risk investing when describing the choices they are making. By using these ways to communicate, your prospects not only understand but they also remember you.

It has been said that business is a game—the greatest game in the world. When you experiment with these techniques you not only improve your skills and see better results, but you also enjoy the game much more, too. PR

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Mark Richardson, CR, is an author, columnist, and business growth strategist. He authored the best-selling book, “How Fit is Your Business,” as well as his latest book, “Fit to Grow.” Richardson will also be a speaker at Professional Remodeler’s Extreme Sales Summit in September 2013. He can be reached at mrichardson@mgrichardson.com or 301.275.0208.

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