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Show and Tell

There are two times when a sales pitch doesn’t seem like a sales pitch. In both examples, the buyer is so engaged in the experience that the pitch itself is a part of something more. It works like this:

Pitch #1 – You’re sitting behind the wheel, breathing in that new car smell and feeling the pulse of the music. The driver’s seat supports you perfectly, as if it were custom-contoured to your body. The engine is deceptively quiet as you accelerate and the car responds without hesitation. The modern dashboard is well-equipped, giving you all the information you need in a single glance. With ease, you can alternate between the navigation system and rear view camera displays.

As you immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the ride, the observant salesperson in your passenger seat comments about the automatic satellite updates for the navigation system, the tight cornering at high speeds, the lumbar support and heated steering wheel…  Your questions are answered even before you ask them, as if the salesperson is reading your mind. As you open the sunroof and crank up the volume on a favorite tune, the salesperson affirms what you are feeling by giving you the J.D. Powers rankings on this car. Your car.

Pitch #2 – You’ve procrastinated long enough and today is the day you’ll be buying a new mattress. It takes two hours each morning for your stiff neck and aching back to loosen up, and you are convinced that a new mattress – the right new mattress – will get your days started out with more spring in your step. You’ve already visited a department store and a furniture store because the mattress offers they advertised were appealing. But you just weren’t sure if those mattresses were any better than the one you’re determined to never sleep on again.

And now, in a name-brand mattress store, you find yourself laying on a mattress that’s on display. You have adjusted your side of the bed to the perfect angle and firmness. You feel yourself melting into the bed, relaxing despite the public setting. You feel weightless and oh-so-comfortable. The salesperson understands and speaks in a soft, soothing voice, describing the delivery options as you nod in agreement (and try not to nod off to sleep).

Obvious in both examples is the buyer’s engagement. These aren’t generic pitches with the same rote features being recited robotically. These are experiences. They actively involve the buyers, stimulating rich discussion because the buyers can’t help but visualize what these experiences would be like for them on a regular basis.

In each example, the seller’s proposal stirs the buyer’s engagement… With this approach, buyers may fall in love and take the plunge.

Now think about another scenario. It’s you on a typical sales call. How are you engaging the buyer? What experiences are you offering that stir your buyer and provide an opportunity for him or her to fall in love and say “yes” to your proposal?

Oh, you don’t have a product that can be tested and experienced in this way? Well, then, the good news is that your competitors don’t either. This is good news because it means that you have a unique opportunity to really differentiate yourself.

Here’s how:

If you truly cannot show your buyer what it will be like to have your product, you’ll have to tell them. But you don’t have to tell them in the same old way you always have, the blah-blah-blah way that every other seller is telling them, too.

Instead, you can tell in a way that’s more compelling. Use metaphors and similes to paint a verbal picture, using what’s familiar to help your buyer visualize what’s less familiar. Offer rich details – not just the facts and figures details, but the details that tell a story about this buyer.

Avoid generalized statements that blandly recap what your product does. Opt for storytelling techniques that prompt your buyer to imagine exactly what it would be like to use your product. Compare and contrast, offering specifics about what they use now and what will be different when they choose your products. Vivid descriptions ought to include details that are unique to your buyers and their companies.

It’s the difference between saying “our vacuum picks up more dirt” and “imagine vacuuming in half the time it currently takes you to pick up dirt that your 6-year-old tracks in… with our lightweight, heavy duty vacuum, you will never have to retrace your steps. You’re going to have more time to spend on the tennis court perfecting your backhand instead…”

In order to paint vivid, compelling images, you will need to get the backstory about your buyer. Asking questions about lifestyle, preferences, and the current situation gives you the setting, props and characters for your story.

Don’t forget the most important part of any story is the hero or heroine. It’s not you. You are not the main character – the buyer is. You are the fairy godmother or genie who helps bring the main character’s unrealized dream to life.

Words can be powerful. When you can’t show your product, be sure to showcase it in a story.

The CONNECT2Sell Blog has been discontinued as our focus has shifted to leadership at every level. Research with buyers demonstrates that buyers respond favorably when sellers show up as leaders. If you'd like to step into your full potential as a leader (and boost sales!), take a look at our free and affordable courses on