Exposing Sales Myths #6 – Sell the sizzle not the sausage

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In a world where so many products are commoditised and it is difficult to tell competing products apart, surely it’s the sizzle in the presentation that makes the difference? In this lesson, Sales and Marketing educator, Mark Blackmore, explains his view that this isn’t always the case.

Video length: 2’52”

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About Mark Blackmore

Mark Blackmore is an experienced consultant and passionate sales and management educator. He has consulted and trained in a wide variety of sectors and his clients include both blue chip and household names (Barratt Homes, Mamas & Papas, G4S, NHS; Nokia, AutoTrader; Google, Hellmanm Logisitcs).

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  1. Interesting comments!

    Yesterday I saw a well known small business “guru” selling a new marketing product by telling us that we should all devote more time to being “marketers” rather than “doers”. This seems to be a trendy theme developed over the last few years. It is a reasonably valid point in that most businesses probably don’t understand marketing – why should they? I recognise this from my own businesses over many years – I didn’t get it – no one told me!

    So as a non-marketer I want to keep things as simple as possible!

    It seems to me that we as business owners get too focused on ourselves and what we sell. This is partly inevitable perhaps as the business is our profit stream etc. Yes it is “all about us” but with the vital proviso that we recognise that every pound of profit comes from our customers – our partners to quote Grant.

    Maximising the value of the transaction for both parties comes from as closely satisfying their needs/wants as we can. It is this satisfaction they are buying rather than what we sell. So, we only really go to the hairdresser to look/feel better rather to have a haircut.

    Customers don’t buy products/services just results. Unfortunately results aren’t necessarily always an easy sell particularly as customers often don’t realise that it is the “hole that they want not the drill”.

    1. Author

      Hi Adrian, I really enjoyed reading your post. Thank you for your comments. The reason why I think it is imperative today that we all become marketers, or at least understand marketing, is that we now live in a world where every single one of us owns our own media channels.

      I agree that most business owners find it very hard to understand their offering from their customers’ point of view. That is why, at Sticky Marketing Club, we came up with the concept of Problem Maps®. These force you to look at your offering through your customer’s eyes and really be clear on your value proposition.

      You are absolutely right, customers buy results. However, in a world where there are many companies claiming to deliver results, the ‘experience’ you provide while achieving those results becomes tantamount. So, like you pointed out, we go to the hairdresser to look and feel better. However, we don’t just want to look and feel better when we come out, we want the delivery itself to be an experience to savour.

  2. It seems that Mark Blackmore has rather missed the point of “selling the sizzle”.
    In my mind, it’s nothing to do with the whizzy PowerPoint slides, or whether the product is commoditised or not, and it’s not really even about whether the product is differentiated or not. It’s about using more abstract and emotive concepts and imagery to inspire the customer, appeal to their basic needs and make the “product” more compelling and attractive.

    Let’s take it very literally and imagine you’re selling sausages. You could very easily imagine a sales pitch that describes the ingredients of the sausages, the fat content, the production methods used to make them, and the price per pack. All of that would be very factual and dry (boring) – even if you attempted to describe the health benefits of the carefully selected ingredients and the high quality of the production methods, etc. You might end up leaving the customer picturing a cold, pink, limp, uncooked sausage that completely turns them off!!!

    Alternatively, you might imagine an advert that pictures a warm, sunlit kitchen with a dad and a couple of hungry kids, arriving home from walking their dog, to the sound, sight, and smell of sizzling sausages as the camera pans round to picture a batch of nicely browned juicy, crispy sausages sizzling in a big frying pan, shortly followed by the image of the kids slapping a few sausages between two slices of buttered bread, with lashings of brown sauce, which drips down their face as they bite into it!!

    Even as I was writing that text, I was practically salivating at the image that it created in my mind!
    If I saw that advert, at the right time, I would happily walk to the local shop and grab a pack of those sausages to eat (regardless of the ingredients, production methods, and even the cost!!)

    The point is, the second advert was not describing the sausage. It wasn’t describing the ingredients, the production methods, the cost or even the quality, but it could potentially create a stronger and more compelling emotional response than the other advert.

    Companies that I work with often get bogged down in describing the features of their products to their customers in their selling and marketing and they don’t have the imagination (or confidence?) to sell the “experience” of using those products. They don’t think deeply enough from the customers’ perspective or really understand their needs and desires.

    So I think, “selling the sizzle” is about using images and concepts to appeal to the imagination and emotions of the target customers to stimulate their desire for YOUR product (even if it is more expensive than half a dozen other identical products!!!). It’s about selling the VALUE and not the FEATURES or DETAILS of the product/service – i.e. what the product can do for the customer, what pain it can take away, and what needs or desires it can fulfil.

    The best example I can think of off the top of my head is the M&S food adverts – e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeKUEA7SoHg

    1. Author

      Thank you Daniel for your comments and for taking the time to really explain what you mean.

      I agree with you. What I think you are alluding to, ultimately, is that people buy emotionally. As you so eloquently state in your last paragraph, ‘appeal to the imagination and emotions of the target customers’.

      Behavioural science teaches us that people make decisions using System 1 (the subconscious) often thought of as ’emotional’ mind and then justify the purchase afterwards with System 2 (the conscious) often thought of as the ‘rational’ mind.

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