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Sell the "Sizzle"

Posted on September 5, 2001

by Bob Osgoodby

We've all heard the term "sell the sizzle, not the steak". Well, if you're selling anything, you had better pay attention to the "sizzle". In today's market, your potential prospects have one thing in mind. "What's in it for them", and if you're into sales, you must realize this. While the "nuts and bolts" of your product or offer are important, that is not normally what gets someone's initial interest and makes the sale.

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People don't buy products or services. They buy benefits. If you are selling an opportunity, people want to know realistically how much they can make. Promises of hundreds of thousands of dollars a month will usually fall on deaf ears. Why, because it is not realistic. You do have to point up the benefits someone will receive however, but if you make outlandish claims, they will simply "click away".

Let me digress - years ago I was running a data processing center and we were only running limited applications. We then had a job added to our responsibilities, which resulted in about three additional days of work, for three people once a month. Not having the staff to do this job, in addition to our daily work, we had to hire temporary help.

A look back - we were dealing with "punched card technology" then, you know - like the "hanging chad" problem in Florida during the last election. While we didn't have that problem, we were dealing with the same technology. We were having pressure put on us to add even more applications, and it just wasn't possible with the constraints of our current hardware and staff.

We started to shop around for a computer, and a number of companies were contacted. One salesman extolled the virtues of his hardware, and we didn't have a clue as to what he was talking about.

Another salesperson didn't try to sell us on the hardware, and the "bits and bytes" involved. He said simply "you can do the job that is now taking three days without the "temp" help in about an hour". And, he continued, "you can do your daily work and the additional applications you want within your normal working day".

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What was he doing? He was selling the "sizzle" - not the steak. He didn't even mention disk storage, or printer speed, he simply told us the benefits of what a computer from his company could do for us. That salesperson got the order, and we have been dealing with them ever since.

If you are doing business, or trying to, you must gear your program to meet the needs of your prospects. If you're selling a product, most people don't really care about how it's made, or how it's designed. They want to know "what is in it for them". Put a different way, what benefits will I get by dealing with you, rather then someone else.

If you are selling an "opportunity" or affiliate program, that thousands of others are trying to "hawk" at the same time, why should they buy from you? If you hope for a chance of succeeding, this is a key issue that must be addressed. Face it, most people don't, and then wonder why they fail.

Stress the personal relationship and help you will give them. Most people who are new to trying a program of this type, need a lot of help and guidance. If you can promise, and deliver this type of help, you have a much greater chance of getting them as a customer than someone who doesn't.

If you are in the market for a raincoat, what is the primary thing you want? While the fact that it is double stitched and made out of high grade material is great, want you really want is to keep dry when it rains.

If you are to succeed, you have to figure out what other people are looking for. While they are really looking for a "steak", it will be the "sizzle" that will sell them.

About the author

Bob publishes the free weekly "Your Business" Newsletter. Visit his Web Site at to subscribe. As a bonus, get 40,000 FREE E-Books from Larry Dotson, when you visit


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