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AlgarveA few years ago my husband and I vacationed in the Algarve region of Portugal. I was struck not only by the stunning scenery, but also by the gracious and elegant service we received. Wherever we went—whether it was to a fancy restaurant, a roadside café, or a little shop—we were welcomed by the warm, friendly smiles of the courteous staff. Still, one encounter stood out above the rest…

We’d spent the morning strolling along a white-sand beach and as the sun reached its peak, we stopped at a nearby café for a light lunch. My husband ordered a salad and I ordered an omelet. When I requested some salsa with my omelet, the waiter’s brilliant smile suddenly froze. He apologized, saying he didn’t know what salsa was. I described it as a sauce made with tomatoes and peppers. He thought for a minute and explained the kitchen was capable of making many sauces and he was sure they could make salsa. Then he posed the magic question, “What would you imagine it would be like?”

This simple question transformed my experience. As my waiter and I imagined my salsa, I could almost taste the sweet, earthy tomatoes set off by spicy peppers with sharp cilantro accents. My anticipation grew by the minute. That’s when I realized envisioning what the experience was going to be like made me want it even more.

You can create this same anticipation for your customers by helping them envision how they will feel when using your product or service. By engaging their emotions, envisioning increases your customer’s desire. Here are a few tips for how you can create an image and connect it to your customer’s emotions:

  • Know the moment of joy – Find out what’s behind your customer’s desire to purchase by asking open-ended questions. Think about when their moment of joy will occur. Will it be when they see the look of surprise as someone opens their gift, or when their friends comment on their new dress, or when they take their new car for a spin through the neighborhood? The moment of joy becomes the key to painting the picture.
  • Paint a picture – Be as specific and descriptive as possible. “Can you see yourself in this car?” does not have the same impact as “How will you feel driving down the Pacific Coast Highway with the top down and the ocean breeze wafting through your hair?” Use evocative language to create emotion.
  • Create emotion – The key is to focus not just on the image, but also on engendering a feeling or emotion. It’s not, “How do you think you will look when wearing this dress?” but rather, “How will you feel when you enter the party wearing this dress?”

When my omelet with salsa finally arrived it was every bit as delicious as my waiter helped me imagine it would be. Though some time has passed, I can still vividly recall everything about the lunch—the scenery, the aromas, the feel of the sun on my skin, and, of course, the taste of my meal. Envisioning involved my senses and created a memorable customer experience for me. Helping customers envision what they will feel, sense, see or taste creates a powerful experience—one that will not easily fade away.