How to Demonstrate Contrast to your Buyers

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9th February 2018

demonstrating contrast

Contrast is one of the “three magic Cs” that helps you find your value equation with buyers. In our sales messaging, contrast comes into play when you show your buyer how much better their situation will be if they use your solution. You use contrast throughout the sales cycle, but it’s particularly powerful when used in early conversations with your buyer. At this stage the goal of contrast is to show your buyer their current situation is unsafe.

Demonstrating contrast is a delicate dance. To do this well you have to understand your buyer and the world they live in. You can’t begin conversations with a prospect by telling them what they’re doing is completely wrong and your solution is the only way to go—you won’t get very far. To use contrast effectively, you have to understand your buyer’s goals and show them two different states.

  • The first: How their current approach to achieving their goal is either ineffective or will soon become ineffective. Here’s the delicate dance. You can’t just tell them that. You need to shine a light on the external factors – the changes that have happened in the world – that are making their current approach ineffective. One way to do this is to say how these factors have hurt other people like them, your other customers. Your goal is for them to conclude their current approach is unsafe.
  • Next show the contrast: How your solution can help them achieve their goals and overcome challenges they may not even be thinking about. At the very least you want these challenges to be amplified in their head.

To do this right you have to show contrast it in a simple way that grabs your buyers’ chimp brain and gets it to act in your favor.

What’s the best way to do this? You have to put contrast in your buyers’ context. To illustrate this, we’re going to use an example straight out of our US east coast office: New York City’s iconic black and white cookie.

This cookie is the very definition of contrast. It’s a soft, cake-like cookie with one half frosted with smooth vanilla icing, the other half frosted with chocolate. Sizes vary from the mini to gigantic. Walk into any bakery and you’ll see one, and it will hit your chimp brain with force.

Why? It’s custom-made for the chimp. The cookie’s foundational structure is made of very basic elements: a circle featuring two contrasting colours—black and white. It’s found in a bakery, bodega, or any establishment that sells good stuff. (Slingshot Towers recommends grabbing some from Barney Greengrass, William Greenberg Desserts, and Amy’s Bread.)

Putting contrast in context

Now that you have an image of contrast in your mind, you need to make it effective. You do this by putting your contrast in context.

Even the chimp needs context. If your chimp saw a black and white cookie floating around in outer space it wouldn’t know what to make of this object: it could be a meteor, asteroid, or rocket ship. Your chimp might be wary of it but would probably sense that it’s nothing that requires its full attention, and move along.

The chimp would give the black and white its full attention if it had more context. Here’s what I mean.

If the chimp was in a bakery and saw a black and white sitting proudly near some chocolate chip cookies, muffins, and other goodies, it would immediately sense what a black and white is. And, depending on its goals, the chimp would either order ten right away, or turn and run out of the bakery.

Knowing your prospects’ goals is key to demonstrating contrast. In the example above, let’s say your prospect is visiting New York City for the first time. If you knew your prospect was a foodie with a sweet tooth you’d position the black and white as an “authentic New York food experience” they can’t miss, and make a beeline to Barney Greengrass. However, if your chimp was heading to New York to run the Marathon and on a training diet, you’d show them the black and white and tell them to avoid this cookie before the race at all costs.

In both cases, your prospect’s chimp will react in your favor because you positioned the black and white in the right context. The foodie chimp will see the black and white as a critical part of their New York food tour that will satisfy a chocolate or vanilla craving all in one go. The marathon chimp will see the black and white as a giant warning sign that will torpedo their training regimen, and know they have to avoid it if they see it.

Understanding how position contrast in your buyers’ context will not only grab your buyers’ attention, it will keep them interested and have them asking for additional meetings to learn more. For example, you could tell the foodie chimp that your black and white can be made with healthier ingredients and be just as delicious. You could also let the marathon chimp know there is no better post-race recovery snack than a black and white.

Take the time understand your buyer and how you can use contrast to show them how much better off they’ll be with your solution. Need help? Contact our chimp and we’ll get started.