Sell the Sizzle Not the Steak

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What about the “Sauce”

SteakIf you have been around sales and marketing for any length of time you are likely to have heard the term “Sell the Sizzle Not the Steak”. What does it mean and where does it come from and I guess more importantly how you might adopt it.

The term “Sell the Sizzle Not the Steak” is widely attributed to the legendary 1930s Salesman and Speaker Motivational Elmer Wheeler. Elmer was accepted as once the greatest ever salesman in the world.

The “Sizzle” is the Benefit, the Feature is the “Steak” for almost every product that we can conceive there will be features and benefits, most of us are not in the slightest bit interested in the features but when it comes to benefits we are fully engaged.

When people make a purchase their decisions have been proved to be made as a result of emotion, it is a scientific fact that the decision to purchase is 95% emotional. It is only after we have made the purchase will we use logic to justify the purchase.

So where is the “Sauce” and for most sales people around the world they fail to serve healthy lashings of “Sauce” with their “Sizzle”. The “Sauce” is the advantage of the benefit, but more importantly it’s the “Specific” benefit to that particular customer. The benefits of a product “Sizzle” can have different advantages “Sauce” to different people, the power is in making the benefits specific.

These specific benefits are crucial when it comes to purchase justification when logic is stimulated. The purchased determined upon the benefit is now justified by the advantage which has a specific pain reliving mechanism. It’s pretty hard for logic to talk you out of a purchase which relives the pain caused by not making the purchase.

As sales people we are always taught to find the customers pain, if there is no pain then there is no gain and often no pain no sale.

“Sell the Sizzle Not the Steak – Don’t Forget the Sauce”

When preparing your closing presentation for your customer isolate only the Features, Advantages and Benefits that solve the pain that you uncovered earlier in the consultation process. If you do this part of the process well you will put yourself in pole position, there are few sales people who truly understand the power of “Sizzle – Steak –Sauce”


The teacher keeps losing her black pen, it’s then difficult to find because all the pens look exactly the same. (The pain here is she keeps losing her black pen and then its difficult to find)

Our Product Offer:

We offer a range of four coloured pens including black, each pen has a yellow body with a colour co-ordinated top which has built in pocket clip.

Feature: Colour Co-ordinated, Benefit: Tell them apart, Advantage: She can find it easily

Feature: Built in pocket clip, Benefit: Doesn’t get lost, Advantage: Doesn’t need to keep buying new ones

A simple and pretty crude example but it demonstrates perfectly the Feature – Advantage – Benefit rules of selling, however it was a smart sales person who found out about the pain first in order to resolve it, and remember that Benefits must be buyer specific…..