The Half-Baked Pizza.

Last week I said that sales was not performance art, and that we should instead focus on creating great shared sales experiences with our customers. Stop focusing on your presentation and instead on how our meeting is going. And as you engineer your next great shared sales experience, may I suggest what you'll want to serve?

Skip the elegant meal laid out with care and garnish. Instead, bring a half-baked pizza.

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In the name of service and professional appearance, marketing and sales people all over our industry spend thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars preparing beautifully-detailed Keynote and PowerPoint presentations and binding together gorgeous handout booklets as "leave-behinds." The fonts are all consistent, the graphics crisp, and the ideas and executions and numbers are all exquisitely explained. This sumptuous spread is laid on the customer's table with great anticipation and optimism. Then something curious happens:

Nothing. The fully-finished, fully illustrated idea not only doesn't sell; the customer doesn't even get particularly engaged in the meeting. So what the hell happened here? And how could it have gone better?

This seller has suffered the unintended consequence of over-presentation. By crafting it all into a finished presentation, she's sent the customer a subtle but unmistakable message: Look what we built... it's all done and we think it's can either buy it or not buy it, but it will never truly be yours. Customers don't want shrink wrapped packages: they want participation. Don't feed them a meal; take them to a cooking class.

For years I've used the metaphor of the half-baked pizza. Show up with a pie that's not fully cooked and a bag of ingredients. Let the customer add a little pepperoni here, a few peppers there, maybe a little extra cheese. When you let your customer into the creation process just a little, they feel a sense of ownership that can turn an ambivalent buyer into an intensively loyal advocate.

So stop beating up your marketing team because you don't think you have enough slides. Bring in a blueprint, some wire frames. Show your customer a rough sketch of the house you'd like to build with them and let them move a couple of walls. You just might be amazed at how much more house they're willing to buy.