You're not selling what you think you're selling!

There are plenty of takeaways in and around our neighbourhood and quite a few of them sell fish and chips. Being of English heritage we enjoy a regular portion of this most famous of our homelands contribution to world cuisine, with lashings of salt and vinegar of course. We've tried just about every fish and chip outlet at various stages but there’s one we return to over and over again, even though it’s further away than a couple of others and a little difficult to park.

It goes without saying that they make great fish and chips, but are they worlds apart from the others? No not really. In fact if we were to do a blind taste test I think we would struggle to tell one from the other. All of the takeaways are really good on that front. So why do we keep going back to this one particular shop?

Well this might sound strange but they always seem to be having so much fun. The shop has about five or six people serving and cooking and they all seem to be high on life. There's a great energy that comes form them and how they interact. They sing loudly, usually in an operatic style, one guy is actually a really good baritone. There is always plenty of friendly banter going on between the team members and quite often with customers.

When your order is ready they call or sing out your name and they always seem to remember who you are. I was picking up my single order earlier this week and the chap said “Only one order tonight Ian?” He remembered that I usually buy two portions and we had a quick chat about my wife being away and me being home alone for a while. He made a joke we had a quick laugh about it and off I went with a big smile on my face neatly wrapped package of hot and tasty fish and chips in hand.

So sure, the great fish and chips are important but we could get the same quality at a few places. What I love most about this shop is that they understand they’re not really selling fish and chips at all. They’re selling an experience. Watching the performance while you wait is great fun and they make you feel good. It’s not the product, it is what’s going on around the product that keeps us coming back time after time.

Here at eccoh we would say that the fish and chips are a MacGuffin. In fact whatever your product or service, you’re not really selling that at all, it’s a MacGuffin. Our founder Bob Burg and his co-author John David Mann write about this in Go-Givers Sell More. In the book they explain that a MacGuffin, so dubbed by the late British film director Sir Alfred Hitchcock, is the object around which the whole story focuses. In the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark for example, it’s the ancient Ark of the Covenant that Indiana Jones is racing to prevent the Nazis from obtaining. But here’s the funny thing, when you get to the end of the story you realise, that thing that the story’s about? That’s not what the story’s about.

As Burg and Mann explain “Indiana Jones succeeds in his quest, but the Ark itself is quietly buried, stored away in a warehouse under lock and key. The characters themselves are devoted to their pursuit of the MacGuffin – but the value of the story lies not in the MacGuffin itself, but in the process they go through. Your MacGuffin may be the best in its class. It may even be life-changing. You may have testimonials from people who declare they would never be without your MacGuffin, that they’re alive today only because they found out about your MacGuffin. But the MacGuffin is not what your story should be about."
“Remember the sales process isn't about you, and it’s not about your product or service. Then what is it about? It’s about adding value to your customer’s life. Your product or service may be one vehicle for doing that, one among dozens. Yet a person may never actually buy your product or service and still have her life changed by meeting you and getting to know you. And that person, even though she never actually becomes a ‘customer’, will refer many others to you.”

So whether you’re selling fish and chips, insurance, financial services, real estate or IT solutions you’re not really in the business of selling any of those things - make sure your story is about adding value to your customers by touching their lives and your success will be assured.

Ian J Lowe is the Founder & CEO of eccoh, a sales transformation, coaching and consulting organisation offering a unique culture-defining philosophy and framework that makes giving value the cornerstone of a refreshingly open and authentic approach to selling.