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Show and Sell: How Displaying Your Products Can Increase Your Sales
by Victor Antonio

Everyone knows that ‘demo-ing’ a product and showing how it can help the prospect will increase the likelihood of it being sold. But what about just showing or displaying the product? Does the simple act of just viewing or seeing the product increase the product’s desirability in the buyer’s eyes?

A study by Janet Metcalfe and Walter Mischel sought to answer that very question. Does simply viewing a desired item increase a person’s impatience for obtaining the product? In one study a child is offered a reward and is presented with two options.

The child can accept the reward immediately being offered (immediate gratification), or Wait 15 minutes and be offered a better reward (delayed gratification).

What would you do? You’re probably thinking, ‘That’s an obvious decision, delay the gratification and wait the 15 minutes.” Well, you might be surprised by the results.

When the reward being offer was “out of sight” (i.e., could NOT be seen by the child), a whopping 75% of the children would wait 15 minutes. But, when the reward was “in sight” (i.e., could be visually seen by the children), the average delay time they were willing to wait dropped to 1 minute. None of the children were willing to delay gratification for 15 minutes when the reward was within their visual reach.

Metcalfe and Mischel referred to the showing of the reward as a ‘hot stimuli’; hot because seeing the reward activated a part of the child’s wiring that created a desire to acquire and the need for immediate gratification.

How can this help you in selling?

At a recent seminar I attended, the speaker at the front of the room was doing his product pitch. Behind him and off to each side was a well-dress table with the speaker’s product elegantly displayed atop them. Whether the speaker knew it or not (I think he knew), by displaying the products, he was taking his cue from the Metcalfe and Mischel study. The speaker was using a ‘hot stimulus’ or reward (i.e., the product on display) hoping to activate audience members with a need to acquire and create a need for immediate gratification to boost his sales.

In one-on-one sales presentations I’ve witnessed in the past, a salesperson will bring the product to the meeting and place it off to the side while talking to the prospect. As the salesperson describes the product, the prospects eyes are drawn to the product itself. Just seeing the product activates the prospect's curiosity and desire to acquire.

If you believe the study, then it should be obvious that showing up with a sample of what you’re selling will always put you in a better position to sell it.

What if you just want to ‘display’ a brochure or catalog as opposed to bringing the product to a meeting? The effect may not be the same. To a prospect, a brochure or catalog may be seen as an extension of the product (i.e., reward out-of-sight) and may not ‘activate’ that desire to acquire.

In sales there is no killer approach that will close 100% of the deals all the time, but if displaying your products can improve your chances to close a few more deals, why not do it?

I hope this will help you in some way. Take care!

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