Selling Opens Up with 3-D Visualization
Before the internet, customers interested in any type of product needed to trek to a brick-and-mortar store to see, feel, and touch it, and then sit down with a salesperson to discuss it. That’s no longer always necessary today. From images and videos to purchase reviews, potential customers can scour the web for background information before ever contacting a salesperson.
But there are cases, especially for larger, specialized, business-to-business (B2B) products, when items are not yet in production or generally available. Other customers might need custom solutions built to their own unique specifications. In either case, the presales experience could leave some customers without a clear idea of how the product will fit into their physical workspaces or current operations.
The process can also be expensive and time-consuming as new prototypes are created, evaluated, and sent back for additional refinements, resulting in a great deal of back and forth between customer, salesperson, and engineering team.
3-D visualizations can help, significantly enhancing the customer experience and boosting B2B sales by creating an interactive way for buyers to self-explore and learn more about products.
There are a wide range of potential uses that B2B marketers are already offering. Take, for example, the roofing industry. Jesse Silkoff is founder of MyRoofingPal, an online marketplace that connects people with the best local residential and commercial roofers in 4,000 cities across the United States. The company has been looking for a way to help clients generate more leads and better serve their own customers.
“The roofing companies that work with us typically do full roof replacements costing $10,000 or more [and] sometimes much more in the case of roofing for large businesses,” Silkoff says. “It’s understandable that some leads may be hesitant to put up that much money without knowing what they’re getting, even if it’s a necessary expense.”
3-D visualization, says Silkoff, would give roofers an opportunity to build trust with their clients before the project even starts. “It would also allow them to show off different roofing materials, letting the client see how their home or business would look if the roof was done in slate or cedar shake, for example, instead of asphalt shingles,” he says. “This could be an especially effective tool as the more expensive roofing materials tend to be a harder sell for obvious reasons.”
Savvy contractors, says Silkoff, could “give the client a preview of the completed job and make a promise of quality to match it, which should draw in even the stingiest business owners.”
Commercial real estate is another area that could benefit from the promise of 3-D visualization in sales. Laura Frenkel is a commercial real estate broker in Boulder, Colo., and is already using 3-D visualization to conduct virtual tours of her real estate listings.
“We have found it to be a very helpful platform in getting parties interested in our listings before they schedule a showing in person,” Frenkel says. “It is also a great tool for clients who have branches out of state and do not have the ability to get everyone through to take a look in person.”
Most people start their real estate search online anyway, she says, and “making a strong impression online often makes the difference” in closing sales, she says. “In general, [3-D] has been a very effective tool.”
Stephen Childress, chief creative officer at marketing and advertising agency Scoppechio, which is based in Louisville, Ky., has worked with GE Appliances on several projects that provide an immersive 3-D and augmented reality (AR) experience prior to purchase. “We’ll create 3-D kitchens, and then that allows us some flexibility in the AR space to be able to allow users to use their phones and explore these 3-D kitchens that have our appliances in them,” he says.
People can interact with the appliances to get a sense of how they work and their features. “We can make it feel a bit more immersive and really give them a sense of how they would look and feel in their homes,” he says.
Nick Thompson oversees U.S. marketing for Tacton, a 3-D sales visualization company that has worked with manufacturers like Caterpillar, Mitsubishi, Siemens, and Toshiba to help them create 3-D video that allows them to quickly customize and configure products, with complete integration to CRM, enterprise resource planning, and computer-aided design systems. “From a marketing perspective, you can actually configure a product and see it through our visualization in real time,” he says. “If you make an adjustment or change, you’ll see that. Customers and salespeople are able to integrate with a 3-D visualization of the product they’re configuring.”