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Don’t Sell People “Things”–Sell Them Value
Blog / For Sales Pros / Jan 18, 2018 / Posted by Robert Jolles /

Don’t Sell People “Things”–Sell Them Value

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If you want a better understanding of what truly motivates people who are looking to buy, here’s a great story–backed up by one of my favorite poems.

I was recently working with a group of sales professionals when an interesting moment of truth was brought to light by a discussion that broke out. I was working at convincing this group that they were too caught up in product features when they were selling. I was trying to make them see that these features–these “things”–were not as important as they thought they were.

The members of the group, though, seemed insulted by my remarks. They took great pride in their products, and didn’t appreciate being told they were selling “things.” I tried to clarify that people really don’t want to be sold “things”–they want what these “things” represent. I told them they should emphasize the value of their product, and as I did so they kept coming back with elaborations on product features. When I realized I wasn’t getting through, I reached for my secret weapon.

That secret weapon is a poem given me about 25 years ago. It comes from a 1941 Sears sales publication, and the message of the poem communicated exactly what I was trying to put across to those sales professionals. It beautifully illustrated the difference between a “thing” and the actual benefit of that “thing.” Once you read the poem, you’ll understand what I was attempting to say.

“Don’t Sell Me Things”
from a 1941 Sears sales publication

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 – rob@jolles.com)

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About Author

A sought-after speaker and best-selling author, Rob Jolles teaches, entertains, and inspires audiences worldwide. Rob draws on more than thirty years of experience and his keynotes and workshops are in global demand, including companies in North America, Europe, Africa, and the Far East.

Author's Publications on Amazon

Persuade, Don't Push! Surely you know plenty of people who need to make a change, but despite your most well-intentioned efforts, they resist because people fundamentally fear change. As a salesman, father, friend, and consultant, Rob Jolles knows this scenario all too well. Drawing on…
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How to Run Seminars and Workshops is the classic guide for trainers and presenters in any industry. Packed with clear advice and real-world practicality, this book covers all aspects including planning, setup, delivery, coaching, and more—including valuable guidance on selling your services. This new Fourth…
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The Way of the Road Warrior offers weary business travelers inspiration, advice, and practical skills for conquering the competition while conducting business on the road. This business traveler handbook is written by Robert L. Jolles salesman, consultant, professional speaker, and veteran Road Warrior who has…
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Whether you are presenting a product, giving a press conference, interviewing for a job, addressing an audience - you are selling. Selling is about persuading, and you have to think fast on your feet to be adept at it. As one of the most popular…
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This revised edition of Robert Jolles's classic book on sales technique features brands new material throughout, including illustrations, teaching aids, coaching techniques, and true implementation strategies! When you have a process, you have a way of measuring what you are doing. When you can measure…
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For some, projecting confidence and credibility is second nature. For others, it seems like a foreign language they'll never learn – until now. Rob Jolles delivers down-to-earth solutions for anyone looking to enhance the most basic need of all; to be believed. He leverages his…
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