Yesterday, I had such an awesome day. I spent the morning doing some video and some sales coaching with a new salesperson and a new friend when out of my mouth came the phrase: Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle.
It has been many years since I have said that phrase and I would not have remembered exactly where I got it if it weren’t for the vast depth of information on YouTube. The photo above is a record album shot of a record that I listened to many times when I first entered the car business in 1972. The general manager at the Chevy dealership that hired me as a 22-year old green pea had a bunch of sales related record albums and I had the pleasure and advantage to listen to them to my heart’s content just by asking. This was one of them. They were all from the 60s, and much of the content was from the 40s and 50s, and all of them were excellent as well leaving a lasting impact on my mind.
There is a tendency, especially with familiarity, to take shortcuts in our sales talk by pointing out feature after feature, such as this has tilt-wheel, cruise, power group, blue tooth, and all the bells and whistles. Now it’s funny for me, but when I got in the business, tilt steering wheel which is so taken for granted in today’s automotive offerings, had to be purposely sold. It had just come out and people didn’t know it or trust it. We had to demonstrate how it was used and what the benefits were to them.
And, that leads me to the part that is missing from a lot of sales talks: the benefits to the customer. Each feature has a benefit and more time should be spent on the benefits than the features. It is the benefits and having the prospective buyer understanding the benefits to them that closes the sale. Features are insignificant without the benefits.
There is also a tendency to use ‘car talk’ or ‘industry jargon’ that we may be completely clear on what it is and the prospective buyer not having a clue. One such phrase is in a paragraph above: power group. What the heck is that? It’s best to avoid using industry jargon at all then we won’t use it with a prospect.
The other aspect of selling the sizzle is the emotion we attach to the communication. It is the enthusiasm which is always contagious. It is caring enough that it becomes obvious that you care about the other person. It is the love and attention you bring to the communication, and how you feel about what you do and your own life has a bearing on all of that and more.
Whatever our business, it is good to remember to sell the sizzle. Sell the benefits. That will improve the experience and it will also be better received and be more meaningful to the person we are trying to communicate with, and in addition, create more business and close more sales.
Just for the fun of it, here is a link to a video of Elmer Wheeler’s Sell the Sizzle: