Build confidence through demonstrations

Sales demonstrations may sound like a relic from the days when drummers peddled their wares from door to door, but the technique is as powerful as ever at convincing prospects of the value within what you offer.

Back when the APL container ship line was trying to convince shippers of the many advantages of double-stack intermodal cars (the ones that look like a truck trailer sitting atop another), executive Don Orris kept hearing concerns about the quality of the ride. The company’s prospects worried that their delicate merchandise would be jostled and damaged along the way.

He knew better, but how could he convince the shippers? That’s when Orris decided to do a demonstration, creating a full dining room inside a container, complete with a chandelier hanging over a table set with expensive china. The company loaded the container into a double-stack car and sent it across the country in an ordinary freight train.

When they opened the contained at the destination, not only were the dining room and its contents completely intact — but the only change during the 3,000-mile-plus journey was that one of the dinner forks had moved slightly. Orris could have promised damage-free shipping until he was blue in the face, and nobody might have believed him. A simple demonstration did more to sell his service than any spoken or written message could accomplish.

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