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.”


Real World Example of How to Influence Price Perception by Using Words Instead of $ or Numbers

by Victor Antonio, Sales Buy•ologist

Not to long ago I posted a Sales Influence Moment video #60 explaining how client’s perception of pricing can be influenced depending now how you write the price on the menu.

I’m here in San Antonio, Texas where the restaurant in the lobby has used the very strategy I discussed in Sales Influence Moment #60.  If you haven’t watch the video, do that first and then check out this picture so you can understand how they are trying to “influence” their patron’s perception.

Note that the prices are written out (e.g., forty two dollars, thirty six dollars) instead of using numerical values or $ signs.

menu pricing influences perception


Fallen Ladders Don’t Matter – A Story of Passion Over Adversity

Rio Grande (Barrio Guzman Arriba), Puerto rico

Rio Grande (Barrio Guzman Arriba), Puerto Rico

by Victor Antonio

I rediscovered this article I wrote 8 years ago and thought I’d share it with you.  Although we no longer own the house, the memories will always remain.

We own a home on the island of Puerto Rico nestled high in the mountains against the backdrop of the United States’ only national rainforest, The Yunque.  To say that the trees, faunas and wildlife are incredible is an understatement.

Where we live there are only a few handful of houses spaced apart enough to enjoy one’s own privacy.  One of my neighbors is a wonderful retiree name Emilio.  When you look at Emilio he reminds you of that favorite grandfather who would probably play pranks on you.  Emilio’s humor and energy, if you’re around him long enough, is contagious.

About six months ago as I was pulling up to our house, I saw huge piles of cement powder, boards and tools scattered about Emilio’s front yard.  I went over to see what he was up to.  Emilio had decided to build his own cement patio.  “Incredible”, I thought.  I asked him if he was going to do it himself and he said, “Yeah, why?”   When I returned to Puerto Rico a month or so later he had finished the patio which extended wonderfully off a small dip in the valley giving him an even more spectacular view of the rainforest.

The next time I went to the island, I remember while sitting on my porch enjoying a cup of coffee and the view of the valley, I heard someone yelling my name, “Victor, Victor”.   When I came done the road by Emilio’s house I saw him sitting on the roof of his house with his feet dangling over the edge and laughing.  Apparently, while repairing some shingles on his roof, the wind came by and blew the ladder away and he had no way of getting down.  After a few moments of laughter, on my part, I put the ladder back in place so Emilio could get down.

Last week we went up to the house in Puerto Rico again to find Emilio finishing up the installation of a hot water heater powered by a couple of solar panels he had installed.  Apparently technology didn’t scare this old guy either.

That night we sat down and chatted while sipping on a few cold ones.  Emilio’s story of how he was raised and the adversities he’s had to overcome made him even more amazing.  One of the most recent challenges was the loss of his wife to cancer 10 years ago after 42 years of marriage.  She died before their dream house there in Puerto Rico was finished.  Emilio can’t go for more than 10 minutes in a conversation without bringing up her name.  To hear him speak of his wife, you think she’s in the next room.  A beautiful black and white photo of their wedding sits alone atop a desk and is the first thing you notice when you step inside his home.

Emilio still takes care of his house and continues to improve on it.   I suspect that in his mind he’s not building it alone.  No.  Whatever new task Emilio takes on, his wife is right there beside him in spirit.  His vision for their dream house continues to motivate him on to the next project.

Unlike Emilio, many of us have lost our motivation.  We’ve lost that drive to bring about the life we once thought of having.  We’ve surrendered it to the past and have become apathetic in reclaiming it.  Our will to pursue our passion, our dream, our vision has atrophied.

Many of us complain that it’s too late to start a career or learn a new skill.   We think we’re too old to learn anything new.  Think of Emilio.  He learned how to build the patio as he went…at 78!

Many of us stop dreaming because of some tragedy or misfortunate event.  Think of Emilio.  He taught me to work through the pain, push on and give your life new purpose, new meaning.

And, many of us are afraid to fail or look stupid in the process of building our dream.  Failure scares us.  Think of Emilio sitting on the roof when the ladder was blown out from under him.  I didn’t find him on the roof depressed or belittling himself.  Instead I found a big kid laughing at himself and the situation.  From Emilio I learned that fallen ladders (i.e., things don’t go the way we planned them) don’t matter and it’s OK to ask (or in Emilio’s case yell) for help.

Emilio shows no sign of letting up.  He’s a human Energizer bunny still going strong, still building on his dream, still holding steady to a shared vision.

Are you still holding steady to your vision of happiness?!

Are you still building?!

Remember to laugh when the winds of misfortune blows your ladder out from under you.   And, don’t be afraid to ask (or yell) for help.  You may be surprised at who shows up to help support your vision.


Copyright © 2004 by Victor Antonio G.   All rights reserved.  This article MAY be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, as long as the author’s name, website and email address are included as part of the article’s body.  All inquiries, including information on electronic licensing, should be directed to Victor Antonio G.

The Opportunity Cost of Sitting in the Back Seat

Read this great blog post on how our mind makes decisions on whether or not to make a purchase based on our perceived constraints.

Click Here

Product versus Profit Presentation

by Victor Antonio

Victor Antonio, Sales Consultant, Sales TrainerIn any B2B sales situation, it is incumbent upon the salesperson to improve a client’s ability to circulate their capital quicker. This can be done through increasing sales, shortening account receivables or increasing inventory turns.

The ability to increase a client’s sales revenues or decrease their cost are the two main pistons that power any company. The engine that drives these pistons is the ability to turnover (or accelerate) capital in the most cost effective way. B2B buyers want to buy products or services that can help them achieve those goals.

So before you give your next sales presentation, here are some questions for you to consider:

  • Does my product (or service) help increase revenue or decrease cost?
  • Does my presentation describe how it does that?
  • Can I quantify those increases or decreases in terms of the client’s business?
  • If so, how soon can the B2B client expect to see a Return On Investment (ROI)?
  • Do I provide the B2B client with proof on how my products help increase revenue or decrease cost?

Whether you’re dealing with the CXO or a Product Line Manager, both want to know the same thing; how can you help me grow? Your ability to qualify and quantify your proposal in terms of the client’s business unit is the key differentiator in any sales scenario with your competitor. Selling in today’s environment has changed.

If Your Price is Too High…Frustrate Them!

Here are two sales equations to keep in mind next time you’re selling to someone and they say, “Your price is too high!”

Low Frustration = High Price Sensitivity
High Frustration = Low Price Sensitivity

If a person isn’t frustrated with their current situation, then the need to change (i.e., motivation) is small. And since the frustration is small, any price you present will be viewed as too much since there isn’t a real need for what you’re selling.

On the other hand, if the person is frustrated with their current situation, then they’ll be motivated to find a solution to remedy the situation. This means that price becomes less of an issue. And, If the frustration is great enough, price may not even be a consideration. A hyper-frustrated client may want the solution no matter the cost.

General conclusion: Find highly frustrated people to sell to


Problem: What if they’re not frustrated, what then? Uhhhh, frustrate them! How? Good question! In my upcoming book, I’ll explain just how you do it!

I know…it’s sooooo wrong to leave you hanging like this 🙂

Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

A Bad Attempt at Selling – Example

It’s no wonder people get frustrated when they sell…they DON’T know what they’re doing. The other day I get this call (below).

Victor: Good afternoon, this is Victor!

Caller: Hi Victor, my name I Jane Doe and I’m calling from your Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. We are putting together an business event and we are looking for small business owners, like yourself, to be sponsors. The sponsorship will include a banner at the event with your company logo and a quarter page ad in the event program. Is this something you’d be interested in? (64 words)

Victor: No.

Caller: Ok, thank you.

What’s wrong with this call? Here are 20 off the top-of-my-head:

-Didn’t ask me if I was busy at the time. (inconsiderate)
-Asked me a vague question while in the ‘cold state’. (wasn’t ready for the conversation)
-What type of business event is it?
-Why should I care?
-All I hear is how much it’s going to COST me (i.e, become a sponsor); no mention of how I can gain.
-Doesn’t build value by telling me how many people are going to be there.
-Didn’t ask me who my target market was.
-How do I know my target market will be at the event if I participate.
-I don’t want to say yes without having ANY idea how much this is going to cost.
-When is the event?
-What time and on what day of the week? (This matters)
-Is this the first time you’ve put on the event?
-Why is the event being put on?
-How many sponsors are there?
-Who’s going to design the ad? Me? If they do it does that cost extra?
-How many people will actually be at the event?
-How many magazine subscribers do you have to justify the cost of the ad?
-Why (or How) did you decide to call me?
-What does Jane Doe do?
-Why would I listen to Jane Doe if I were interested? (credibility – qualifications)

I could go on but you get the idea. People stink at selling because they’re too lazy to learn how to do it right. Her question was horrible. In a nutshell here’s what she asked, “Hey, I got your name, we need money (sponsors) for an event. I don’t really care if it’ll help you, are you interested?

The key to a great sales script/conversation is knowing what to say and how to say it without causing the client to ‘shut down’ on you. How would I have said it? Well, you’d have to come to one of my workshops to find out 🙂

(I know, that’s soooooo wrong 😉

Victor Antonio, Sales Influence