The lost art of the sales pitch, Part II

By Rich Lindblom, AVB Marketing

Last month I spoke about how your competition’s idea of a sales presentation is to recite a list of product features straight from the point-of-purchase material or a sales brochure and to then let the customer decide.

See: Back to the Future (of Retail)

When it comes to a successful sales presentation, you need to establish an emotional connection between the customer and the product that they are considering purchasing.  How do you do that?  It’s pretty simple, really: you sell the benefits, not the features. The difference is subtle but critical:

  • Features are what the product can do and how it does it.  
  • Benefits are what the product can do for the customer.

If you can drill down and explain how the customer’s life will be improved by the product she’s considering, you’ll have a much better chance at closing the sale.

  • Tell them how that new washer is not only going to save them money by using less water and energy, but it’ll also get their laundry cleaner with less wear and tear on the fabric, so their clothes and bedding will last longer.
  • Explain how that new refrigerator is going to use less electricity while also keeping their food fresher longer, thereby reducing waste and lowering their grocery and utility bills.
  • Show them how a new dishwasher will hold more dishes and clean them in fewer cycles, thereby using less water and energy and saving them both money and time.
  • Demonstrate how that Wi-Fi-connected wall oven will notify them when it’s reached temperature, freeing them up to do other things besides hanging around the kitchen, staring at the oven. Or better yet, it will allow them to pre-heat the oven while driving home from work, so it’s ready for cooking once they get home. 
  • Let them experience the incredible picture and sound they would enjoy with that new big-screen TV (which, by the way, will consume less power than that dinosaur rear projection behemoth they’re still watching).
  • Maybe your customer has health issues and has never considered a lift chair. Let them experience how a new lift chair will make their life a bit easier.
  • How about the customer with sleep problems? The right mattress and motion base will help them get a restful night’s sleep, which will improve their mood, overall health and life expectancy.

I’m sure you get the idea, and hopefully you have a few ideas of your own bouncing around in your head right now. The key is to connect with the customer on a deeper level than can be achieved simply by regurgitating product specs, features and stats. The goal is to give them an emotional reason to pull the trigger and make the purchase. 

The bottom line is, if you can help the customer embrace the full value of the product they are considering by understanding the benefits it will deliver to them, then more often than not you are going to get the deal.

And in the process, you are very likely to also win a customer for life.

Rich Lindblom is a past principal of Advanced Maytag Home Appliance Center, a family business founded 64 years ago in Schaumburg, Ill.  After working at and later leading the company for more than four decades, he and his brother sold the operation. Lindblom now shares his 40-plus years of hard-won retail experience with fellow BrandSource members as a columnist for YSN and product manager of AVB’s SYNC point-of-sale system. Contact him at

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