You STILL Need To Sell The Sizzle, Not The Steak

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

We all heard the old adage, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” However, I often wonder if some sales people truly understand the concept, or feel that it is still relevant when dealing with steak on grilltoday’s modern buyer.

In a word, YES. From the beginning of time until the end of such, you must understand how to present the benefits, results, outcomes and problem solving solutions of what you sell. You must know how the VALUE of what you sell is worth far more than the sum of its parts.

In today’s high tech, futuristic era, it is tempting for sales people to concentrate too much on the makeup and “nuts and bolts” of a product, and less on what the product DOES for the buyer. Below is a quick Water Cooler style story that demonstrates why you must still sell the sizzle!

What Does It Do?
Just after the invention of the telephone, sales people took to the streets around the world selling this marvelous new invention. You would think that to sell telephones when they first came out would be extremely easy. Yet, many sales people had problems closing door-to-door sales for this new and advanced product.

However, one sales person consistently outsold everyone else, with sales nearly 300% higher than average. So, a wise sales manager set out to find out why.

The manager first rode along with some of the average sales people and found they had essentially the same sales presentation at the door:

“Hello! What I have here is a new invention called the telephone. Unlike the telegraph, this telephone takes your voice and breaks it down into electronic signals. It then takes those signals and transmits them across town via those wires overhead. The signal arrives at what we call a switching station miles from here, where the operator connects your electronic location with another location via a switchboard. Then, people miles away can hear you and you can hear them!”

The manager noticed that the sales people had vast knowledge of the product, but saw minimal results. He then went out with the super sales person whose presentation at the door went more like this:

“Mum, what I have here will allow you to talk to your friends and loved ones who are hundreds of miles away, and speak with them just as if they were sitting right here next to you in your home!”


Too Much Knowledge
As you gain expert knowledge of your product, be careful to remember that much of what you know is for YOU and you alone. Most people could care less about exactly HOW their car works. Rather, they want to know that it will transport them to where they want to go and do it in the style for which they desire.

While some products do require mechanical or technical explanation and selling, be careful not over do this. Think of those technical aspects and equate them to their beneficial counterpart.

Happy Selling


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of Brian Holm at

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 12 September, 2012

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