When I was recently working with a group of sales professionals, a discussion broke out that represented an interesting moment of truth. I was trying to convince this group that they were too caught up in the features of the product they were selling. I was trying to convince this group that these products, these “things,” weren’t as important as they thought.
But this group seemed a bit insulted, and they took great pride in their products. They didn’t like hearing that they were selling me “things.” I tried to explain to them that people don’t want to be sold “things.” They want to be to sold what these “things” represent. As I tried to explain to them that I needed to hear the value of their product, they tried to elaborate on the intricacies of the features of their product. I finally had heard enough, and I reached for my secret weapon.
My secret weapon is a poem that had been given to me about 25 years ago. It came from a 1941 Sears sales publication, and its timeless message dealt with the exact concept I was trying to explain to these sales professionals in our 2012 world. It clarified the difference between a “thing” – with all of its many features, and a benefit of that “thing.” After you read this poem, you’ll understand what I was trying to say…
“Don’t Sell Me Things”
Don’t sell me clothes. Sell me a neat appearance, style, and attractiveness.
Don’t sell me shoes. Sell me foot comfort and the pleasure of walking in the open air.
Don’t sell me candy. Sell me happiness and pleasure of taste.
Don’t sell me furniture. Sell me a home that has comfort, cleanliness and convenience.
Don’t sell me books. Sell me pleasant hours and the profit of knowledge.
Don’t sell me toys. Sell me playthings to make my children happy.
Don’t sell me tools. Sell me the pleasure and profit of making fine things.
Don’t sell me refrigerators. Sell me the health and better flavor of fresh foods.
Don’t sell me tires. Sell me freedom from worry and low cost per mile.
Don’t sell me plows. Sell me green fields of waving wheat.
Don’t sell me things. Sell me ideas, feelings, self respect, home life, happiness. Please, don’t sell me things.
If you ever come to my office, you’ll see some interesting things on the wall. I’m very proud of the pictures, the book covers, the various mementos, and a few other things I hope will motivate the people who come to visit. What they don’t see are the few things that are taped on the back panel of my desk that only I can see. These are the items that motivate me. I have this trusty poem in a prime location on that back panel, and every time I read it, I appreciate the simple wisdom in those words. I hope you do too.
(If you’d like a copy of this poem, feel free to email me directly – email@example.com)