Elmer Wheeler got his start in sales shortly after losing his job at the newspaper that employed him. After his boss told him all they needed was more people in sales, Wheeler decided that he was going to work in sales. It was as a salesman that he coined his now-famous phrase “Don’t sell the steak – sell the sizzle.” Which is why Wheeler is known around the world as Mr Sizzle. But what does “sell the sizzle” actually mean?
When we buy steak, we buy the sizzle in the pan, the smell as it cooks and the taste as we salivate over the delicious flavour. We don’t “buy the cow”. But how does this translate in to the sales you try to make on a day to day basis. How do you SELL your sizzle, not your steak?
I reckon that at least 7 out of 10 websites that I am asked to evaluate fail on one fundamental content presentation issue. Businesses love to talk about their cow (features) but rarely mention their “sizzle” (benefits). That’s because it is so easy to talk about the things we do, to list the things we love doing, which makes it easy to overlook the benefits that our customers gain from engaging with us.
And yet, if you go through any form of sales training, you’ll learn that people (you and I, customers in other words) buy benefits not features.
As a bit of background, a long time ago I used to sell washing machines for a living. I also used to train new sales staff. When a new model arrived the sales people would give it a once over to understand where the key controls were and then take a deep dive in to the spec list to see what it could do.
Untrained sales people would focus on things like the spin speed, the weight of the load and the number of programs. Staff who had benefitted from sales training would latch on to the facts that a high spin speed meant that it would be better at drying clothes, that a large load meant that it could wash a family’s clothes in one go, saving cost and that it would have enough programs to wash every item of clothing in a wardrobe.
What they were doing was converting features in to benefits and by focussing on what people actually base their decision on, they were the ones making the sales.
It’s easy to convert your own features in to benefits. Simply take a feature, “this washer has a 1,200 RPM spin speed“, and use the phrase “which means that” to convert it in to a benefit. “This washing machine has a 1,200 RPM spin speed which means that it gets your clothes drier than the competition can manage“.
Soon, salespeople don’t even need to mention the actual spin speed, they go straight in with the benefit – “this machine gets your clothes drier than all the others here“. They keep the feature in reserve in case they’re asked how the benefit is achieved.
Salesperson: “Mr and Mrs customer, this is the machine that will dry your clothes the best”
Customer: “Oh, how does it do that?”
Salesperson: “By having a 1,200 RPM spin speed”
This is how the conversation could go, but in my experience about 85% of the time, the follow-on is not needed – but by having product (or service) knowledge, it’s there, in the sales armoury, to be deployed, but only when required.
I provide a wide range of marketing services*, and they all have features but it’s far simpler to talk about the benefits, and the core benefit is increased profits. [More enquiries lead to more opportunities which lead to more sales which lead to increased profits]. That’s why my sales pitch is based around 2 key benefits, “win more customers, make more profit“.
The “how” is a conversation that can be had, if required, but always with benefits.
I’ll take care of your search engine optimisation. This will make your business easier to find in the search results, drive more people to your website, encourage more enquiries which will lead to more sales – provided your website has been put together with this goal in mind.
If you want to increase your profits then all you have to do is get in touch.
Call me on 01793 238020 or email email@example.com. We can even schedule an introductory, FREE, 40 min call over Zoom, or Teams or any other platform.
*SEO, PPC, Website evaluation, Social Media Marketing, Blog writing, podcasting, email marketing and more