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You can’t help seeing them on television. I’m talking about those fast-talking hucksters selling cheesy products that nobody needs but millions buy.


Who can forget the Inside the Eggshell Scrambler? How about the Snuggie? The Bedazzler? The Pocket Fisherman? GLH (which stand for Great Looking Hair) a pigment in a can to spray on your bald spot and, of course, let’s not leave out the Clapper!

How do these cartoonish characters convince millions of people to pull out a credit card, call an 800 number and place an order for a product they don’t need?

In a word, salesmanship.

Without exception these TV pitches are delivered by people who are wildly enthusiastic and breathlessly excited about the product they are hawking. Excitement, apparently even phony over the top excitement, grabs buyer’s attention and rouses curiosity.

They then state a problem, “The problem with blankets is that they always slip off.” The fact that people really don’t have much trouble managing a blanket is immaterial. The need for their product, no matter if the need is non-existent, is put forth with great conviction.

A lengthy, fast-moving and repetitious recital of the benefits of ownership, complete with product demonstrations, is then put forth. “You will slice a tomato perfectly every time with one simple motion and clean up is a snap!” “You’ll save time and have perfectly uniform slices for salads and sandwiches!” they add.

Employing a paid studio audience to ooh and ahh and applaud wildly in response to the product demonstrations is often used to establish credibility. Short customer testimonials are sometimes filmed and interspersed throughout the pitch for the same purpose. Statements like, “If you have a car, boat or RV, you’d be crazy not to own one of these!” are typical.

But wait, there’s more! “Act now and we’ll include a second one free of charge…all you pay is shipping and handling.” This offer to double the order appears to be adding value for the buyer but in reality it’s an up-sell. The shipping and handling charges more than cover the total cost of adding another unit and generate additional profit.

A sense of urgency is created: “You must act now to get this special offer.” “Have your credit card ready and call within the next ten minutes and we’ll include Jill’s recipes at absolutely no extra cost to you.” Some even show a ticking clock counting down the time left to buy.

No matter how silly and shifty these TV pitches are, when you scrape away the hucksterism, you see they follow a legitimate and proven sales formula that includes creating excitement and curiosity, identifying a problem, offering a solution, reciting the benefits of ownership, establishing credibility, adding value, up-selling and ending it all with a strong call to action.

You’d do well to use these fundamentals in your sales pitch but please don’t try to sell me a water powered can opener!



About the author

Michael Dalton Johnson

Michael Dalton Johnson

Michael Dalton Johnson is an award-winning publisher and successful entrepreneur and business leader. He…

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