Distributor : Buena Vista
Year of creation : 1987
Director: Barry Levinson
Main actors : Richard Dreyfuss, Danny Devito
Duration of the extract: 3'33.
Start : 12'18
End : 15'41
Baltimore, 1963. Bill Babowsky and Ernest Tilley are both salesmen. They both sell aluminum panels and that's about the only thing they have in common. Bill, known as BB, is the high roller. Known for his more or less honest tactics, he is a bit of a star in his field. Ernest is the opposite: hard-working, naive and a bit clumsy, he often finds himself in embarrassing situations. In other words, apart from their profession, nothing links them...until the day Ernest gets into BB's brand new Cadillac. War is declared. Under the amused eyes of the spectator, the two men start a fight where all blows are allowed. This confrontation is the main thread that allows us to follow our two representatives.
The United States of the sixties, two commercial heroes at the time when the thirty glorious years were in full swing, when consumption became a way of life. This comedy is inevitably close to caricature. Obviously, it does not lack scenes where we see our salesmen in action. The following one can give ideas to develop original and effective catchphrases.
This film, which borders on caricature, has been useful in training courses where the salesperson had to be creative to hook a client. In mature markets, this can be very useful. It allows for example to find an alternative to "I use the product/service myself and...". I used a short excerpt of a salesman's trick to illustrate need detection in a seminar of a leader in temporary work. The excerpt may have been offbeat, but it worked very well to get the discussion going.
How does the salesperson hook the customer?
Why does it work?
Did they adapt to the client's needs?
How do you do it?
In your business, how do you qualify your interlocutor and adapt your speech?
Once is not customary, it is with the end of the scene that it is appropriate to start. "Because it's you, I'm giving you a gift! I'll give you the jet as soon as it's signed", "it's a deal!", "you're smart, aren't you?"... formulas that you've certainly heard before, perhaps used to close a sale. Here, the effect is successful. Through this succession of sequences of sales conclusions, the director shows us the style of each representative. What we conclude is that all these formulas to reassure the customer, to convince him that he did well to buy, are similar. In other words, a good salesperson must know how to differentiate. As we have already seen with our French representatives from Pégaze Diffusion [CF article: Inciter subtly to the sale], it is a question of adopting a posture completely detached from any sales objective. One sure way to achieve this is to succeed with your hook. And knowing how to hook your customers sometimes requires a creative mind. In this sequence, this is precisely what the two Gibraltar representatives demonstrate.
At the beginning of the sequence, BB and his colleague are on their way and agree on the strategy to adopt. We quickly understand that "the life blow" is part of their "tricks" and that it amuses them.
Next shot, we find our two salesmen in the garden of a typical house of suburb. They installed a camera on foot and make everything to be noticed. The goal? Reverse the classic commercial approach: after having chosen their target, BB and his friend make sure that it comes to them. And it doesn't take long for this to happen!
Obviously piqued by curiosity, the lady of the house ends up leaving her house to find out what these intruders are doing in her garden. Housewife of less than fifty years, her house is in the middle of her concerns. BB is almost sure to touch her by explaining that he is doing a photo report for the art deco magazine Life. Life is the Bible for housewives. The name of the magazine is hardly pronounced that the owner wants to know more...the hook is successful. The two acolytes only have to make a small effort to create the desire for aluminum panels. It's very simple: the BEFORE/AFTER advertising campaign argument. Obviously, as it stands, the house would appear on the BEFORE page, since it has no aluminum panels.
Our two salesmen can start the argument: the main argument is that the house selected for the AFTER picture is much more beautiful....because it is already equipped with panels. The issue here is not so much the need for equipment as the desire to see one's house cited as an example in one's favorite magazine. The "Life shot", a strategy to create demand that works admirably here.
It is the shift in the hook that allows the argument to be diverted from the sales objective. In this sequence, it is such a success that the two salesmen managed to make solar panels a pleasure purchase. This is the last argument that the customer gives to her husband to reassure him at the time of the conclusion: "Honey, we will be in life. And obviously, it is priceless!