This is the first audio blog lesson in the Get Edified! Marketing and Sales Series, a complimentary series of lessons for entrepreneurs, business leaders, and anyone who sells a product or idea. Whether you’re selling to make a living or seeking to convince someone to adopt your idea, these lessons apply. In short, this series is for everyone because everyone sells in some form or fashion.
(If the audio player above does not work for you, click here instead to listen to the full audio lesson.)
I worked my way through college, going to school by day and waiting tables at night. I learned many lessons, not the least of which is the lesson of the sizzle plate.
What is a sizzle plate?
A sizzle plate is a hot metal plate on which restaurants typically serve a steak. Most surmise the plate’s purpose is to keep the steak warm, which is only partly the case. Its more critical function is that it allowed us to pour the juices over a nice hot steak, and it would sizzle as we weaved through the crowd on the way to its intended table.
The crackling and the aroma served as a walking menu, eliciting comments along the way…”Oh, wow! That smells delicious,” or “That sounds great. What is that?”
The real purpose of a sizzle plate is to sell the steak.
But there’s a second and very important part of this equation, and that is…
The steak must live up to the expectation the sizzle created.
It doesn’t matter how good it smells or sizzles…if it is tough or doesn’t taste good, it’s going back to the kitchen. And if you don’t make it right, you lose a customer.
If the sizzle that sets the expectation is followed by a steak that doesn’t meet it, you lose business. (Tweet this.)
This is a metaphor for marketing and sales.
What happens when the sizzle and the steak are incongruent?
When you create an expectation and don’t deliver up to the level of expectation you have created, there is a break in trust.
Whether you are interviewing for a job, marketing a product or service, making a promise to your child, or dating someone, be sure you live up to the expectation you have set. Otherwise, you break a trust. And trust is hard – sometimes impossible – to regain.
This is why the sales profession occasionally gets a bum rap – because somewhere along the line, the steak did not measure up to the sizzle.
We live in a marketing-oriented society.
Marketing comes at us from every angle – our inboxes, mailboxes, social media, phones, direct sales, retail, television, radio, magazines, newspapers, and podcasts, just to name a few. Artificial Intelligence tracks our every move. The sizzle plates whiz by all the time until one, finely refined for you, catches your attention. It resonates. At that point, your need is sufficiently teased with a strategically executed sizzle plate.
Your mouth waters as you await your steak.
If your steak matches or exceeds your expectations, not only will you return, you will bring your friends. You will tell others you know of your experience. You will post pictures to social media. As a satisfied customer, you essentially become the company’s best sales person.
How do you stand out in a market-frenzied world? It’s pretty simple really. Deliver two things using the CHIP method.
Ed DeCosta is one of the most engaging executive coaches and thought leaders of our time. He delivers results with companies of all sizes, from high tech start-ups to Fortune 500 corporations. Ed is an ICF certified professional coach. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University, a master’s degree in international management from the University of Texas, and an MBA from the University of Texas. Ed is also an adjunct faculty member in West Virginia University’s College of Business and Economics, teaching Professional Selling and entrepreneurship courses.