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Accentuate the Positive when Selling New Technology

Earlier this year I found myself at the fabulous Bristol Hi-Fi Show. Looking for somewhere to take a little rest I blagged a seat inside the What Hi-Fi demo room, where a brand new Samsung 8k TV was about to be demonstrated to a bunch of wide-eyed public.

My inner geek was quite keen to see this, and after a few minutes adjusting my eyes to the dark and my lungs to the lack of oxygen, the show began. The excitement was palpable. This was a great TV, at least according to What Hi-Fi who had recently reviewed it and given it four stars.

However, my excitement was curtailed when the presenter opened his demo with the words: “Now, the thing with 8K is that there’s no readily available content. And we’re not sure if there are any firm plans for it to be made available any time soon. We’ve been informed that the Tokyo Olympics will be broadcasting in 8K but will they really be able to achieve that? We’re not sure.”

Ok. So this lack of 8k content available for public consumption is a true fact. After all, we’re just getting our heads around 4k, and plenty of ordinary people I know (ie, those who aren’t involved in the CE industry) have only the meanest relationship with it. The majority seem content squirting standard DVD content through cheap HDMI cables into their brand new UHD TVs. Which fills me with horror. And to be fair to What Hi-Fi, the upsell from 4k to 8k alone wasn’t enough for them to award that extra shiny, even though by all accounts it’s a great TV.

In fact, from what I saw, it’s a fabulous TV. They played some of Samsung’s proprietary 8k content from a USB stick and even though I was sat at the back of the room, some 15-20 feet away from the screen, I felt as though I could stand up and walk into the picture like someone enraptured by The Light. It was astonishing.

A large, flat screen TV
The Samsung QE65Q900R 8K QLED TV - Astonishing!

But if I was an early adopter, and could afford to buy the thing, would I be convinced by someone whose opening line was so negative? Of course the presenter wasn’t a sales person in a retail shop, but what he said resonated with me because I’ve heard similar statements from actual sales people on shop floors a lot over the years, particularly with TVs.

It’s easily done, especially when the technology or the product is very new and support for it is thin on the ground. Customers might be asking you questions to which the answers are all a very strident “no”. Of course you might want to pre-empt these yourself by telling your customer upfront that the thing they’re drooling over won’t be able to do this or that. After all, you’re trying to be helpful and you don’t want your customer to be misled. Maybe it goes deeper, maybe there’s no stock, or there are no delivery slots for Tuesday morning. You lay all these things out like unwanted hurdles in a 100 metre sprint and before you know it your customer disappears, disappointed and disillusioned, before you’ve even fired the starting pistol.

Fact is there’s a real danger that if you start your conversations or bombard your customers with a string of unending negativity, you could lose them – not only that but the brand you’re trying to sell could lose them too. And in a world where everything is shared and re-shared across mutiple social media platforms, the effect can be widespread.

Part of the solution could be to open your demonstration with the good stuff. Focus on what the TV will do, rather than what it won’t. Involve the customer by giving them the remote and showing them how all these amazing new features will bring to life the content they enjoy – and take the time to find out exactly what they do enjoy so that you can make it personal to them. Show them how, for example, the TV will render their lower resolution content to make it really come alive – you and I know this as ‘upscaling’ but try not to litter your language with jargon unless you think they’re going to be responsive to it.

Of course at some point you’ll be obliged to break the bad news, but think about how you deliver it. To my mind, the whole thing about 8k TV – if previous formats are anything to go by – is that content will start to appear, whether that’s through platforms currently available or even through some future innovation. So the TV is futureproof, which means it’s an investment. This isn’t exclusive to 8k either. Don’t forget that there’s a whole bunch of people who still don’t know much about 4k, and the upscaling on my 4k TV is phenomenally good.

And instead of telling people there’s no stock, or that you can’t possibly deliver on Tuesday morning, you can tell them stock is due in next week, you can reserve one for them as soon as it arrives and deliver it on Wednesday or Friday.

You can’t ignore the negative, because you can’t mislead your customers, but don’t lead your demos or conversations with it. The point is if you accentuate the positive then you might just convince your customer to make that investment after all.

An earlier version of this article was previously published in Innovative Retailing Magazine, April 2019

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