Just Selling the “Sizzle” is Not Enough

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I once knew a home improvement salesman by the name of Fred. Fred could sell refrigerators to inhabitants on the North Pole to say the least. I once knew of him selling a room addition to a couple for a house that needed to be torn down and it took four signatures on the note to get the deal through. Fred knew how to sell “sizzle” and was proud of it.

The “Sizzle” I’m referring to is the sizzle on the proverbial steak. Fred would paint wonderful pictures of the work to be done. He would do it so well that the potential client could smell the sizzle long before he took the proverbial bite. Unfortunately over selling can backfire.

As memory serves me, I can’t say that Fred ever had any problem with his overselling. He was a seasoned professional and knew the balance of the dream vs. the reality. Only when the first payment came did the customer have remorse and then it was way too late.

Overselling your ability as a small businessperson can lead to trouble. There is nothing wrong with describing the benefits of buying goods or services from you. In fact you have to tell the customer the value added you provide over your competitors. Just remember that whatever you sell you must deliver, otherwise you lose your credibility.

For years car companies have been draping beautiful women over the hoods of their products hoping that the potential buyer (usually a man) will see himself in the car with that beautiful woman beside him. The inference is that by buying that car you will find yourself with a beautiful woman. The reality is that may only happen in a small number of sales and then the reality is that who wants a woman in their life that is only after the car?

Many years ago there was a movie called Crazy People starring Dudley Moore. Dudley played a burned out ad executive who was committed to an asylum. There he met a group of individuals who where really crazy and he used them to generate slogans and ad concepts for his clients. The inmates used brutal honesty in their approach and as the story goes the ads were hugely successful.

Somewhere between the selling of the sizzle and brutal honesty there is a balance. Marketing and advertising is the art of motivating a potential client to choose your product or service over your competitor’s. It can be used for the good or for darkness, the choice is in the hand of the small businessperson. Persuasion can be a powerful tool and must be respected.

Do not give in to the temptation of the dark side. Its benefits are only temporary and will not build long-term relationships with customers. Once they begin to see through the “sizzle” they will soon go on to your competitor. Overselling is not a good thing. Balance is. Learn how to motivate your customer to purchase by educating them in the added value of your product. Partner with them and guide them through the purchasing process as a support and help rather than a vulture trying to pick their bones clean.

Fred I’m sure is long dead. He had a very successful career in sales and I’m sure left many satisfied customers behind. I’m sure he also left his share of nightmares. Do you as a small business person want to look back after a long career and see the scattered carcasses that you’ve picked clean or would you rather see a lot of smiling, satisfied customers who would recommend you to anyone? The choice is yours. Chose wisely.

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