Show Don’t Tell When You Want to Sell

In the mid 1990s, Compaq introduced the Aero 4/25, a diminutive notebook computer with a monochrome screen and a then-revolutionary nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery that kept it purring for up to eight hours. It was small. In fact, it was so small that it was difficult for Compaq to convey its compactness (no pun intended).

Compaq teamed up with a leading electronics retailer to prove the old adage, “better to show than to tell.” For a limited time, everyone who placed a sizeable order for anything from that retailer received a free Aero 4/25 case. They did this without warning or fanfare; in fact, they never advertised it.
Imagine my surprise when my order for some long-forgotten photo equipment was shipped with a genuine ballistic nylon Compaq Aero case. Being an honest sort, I assumed it was a warehouse error. I checked the packing list to retrieve the customer service phone number and noticed that the cost for the case was “no charge.”
Cutting to the chase, you can guess the outcome. As soon as I saw, held, felt and handled the case, I had to have the tiny notebook computer that could fit inside. No matter that it had a gray-and-white monochrome screen, the exceptional battery life and Lilliputian size more than made up for the absence of color graphics. Despite the cost—which I believe was north of $1,000—I had to have that little laptop!
The Aero 4/25 served me well. The episode taught me that it’s always better to show than to tell. And that makes me shake my head in amazement when retailers who should know better hide accessories in drawers and stockrooms.

Don’t Show, Don’t Sell
Here are a couple ways to demonstrate consumer electronics accessories using the “don’t show, don’t sell” inversion.
Over here at URC, we recently introduced two new iOS apps, one for our Total Control system and one for our Complete Control product line. Consumers can control AV components, lighting, surveillance cameras, HVAC and other devices, depending on their system configuration, in their home or business from any location in the world that provides a Wi-Fi connection. It’s like being in two places at the same time.
Sounds good, huh? It looks even better. The surefire way to sell this control accessory is to have a surveillance camera set up somewhere in the shop and outfit salespeople with the requisite iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Then, let the magic happen. A customer sees the actual live camera image displayed on the salesperson’s phone and, bingo, they have to have the camera and the app.
Does anyone watch a movie with all of the living room lights blazing? Probably not. But when the phone rings, they may like to click a few lights on after they press the pause button. One of the most beneficial accessories that must be seen to be appreciated is lighting control. With the press of one button on a remote control, keypad or iDevice, users can turn on, turn off, brighten and dim ambient light. Once again, having a dimmer-equipped lamp controlled by that salesperson’s iPhone is a powerful way to turn on some light bulbs, figuratively and literally, and sell accessories in the process. In fact, you can sell two accessories—the app and the dimmer—at the same time.
What do these examples have in common? In both scenarios, the sales appeal is made to the customer on multiple levels. The visual appeal is obvious. So is the tactile sensation of holding the remote or phone. An emotional appeal can be very compelling—the camera and light dimmer both offer a sense of heightened security. We could go on and on.
The takeaway is simple: It’s always better to show than to tell, unless, of course, you’re in the business of selling rattle snakes or poisonous spiders. If that’s the case, maybe we should leave you with this old saying: A picture is worth a thousand words. l

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