Contrast Principle in Selling and I’ll Think About It!

by Victor Antonio, Sales Buy•ologist

When you think about selling, most people have a complicated sales process in their heads about how to go about making a sale.  This past weekend I challenged myself with the notion of coming up with the simplest definition of selling and a basic model that anyone who is in selling could grasp with little or no effort.

In my Occam Razor-esque search I was able to formulate a basic conceptual model that encapsulates the gambit of selling.  The concept is very simple, but deceivingly so.  Selling is about Before and After.  A client wants to know what his life will be like after he buys your product or service.  His motivation to buy will be based on his ‘before’ context or reference point.  That’s it!  Sales in one simple concept; before and after.

Rich Poor Before and After Sales Training - Contrast Principle

For example, if you are selling a new piece of technology that has many whiz-bang features, the client will first take note of his current situation (before) and evaluate whether buying from your will improve his position (after).

We’ve all seen those weight loss adds that show the before and after results.  We all seen the hair loss commercial where the guy is bald, but afterwards they have a full head of hair.  This is essentially the contrast principle in action.  If you can show the client what the ‘after’ will be like and show a dramatic difference, the more likely you are to convince the buyer to buy from you.

All a customer wants to know is what will be the difference after he buys from you.  Here is where the salesperson’s ability to draw attention to those differences (differentiators) will make or break the sale. On the other hand, if the “after” image the salesperson presents is full of uncertainty and ambiguity, the client will stick with their ‘before’ status and not buy.

When a client says, “I’ll think about it.”, what they’re really saying is “You haven’t convinced me that my buying from you will change for the better.”


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