Sales Lessons from Bob Vila

 

There's more to what he does than meets the eye

With so many different programs, and reruns andre-packaging of older programs, we can assumethere are few people on the planet who do not knowabout Bob Vila. Starting with the original "ThisOl' House" programs on PBS in 1979, Bob Vila andhis empire, have grown into a major force in theHome Improvement Television genre.

The professional salesperson can learn a whole lotmore from Bob Vila than how to screet concrete orput mud on the drywall.

Bob Vila is a study in brand awareness. Bob is thebrand. The challenge was getting people torecognize, and ultimately respect Bob Vila, as THEhome improvement expert. Whatever he did beforethat first TV program is inconsequential as iswhether or not he can saw a board of drive a nail(something he does verl little of on his show).

Bob Vila became a household name. Brand awarenessto the highest degree. So high in fact that Searsasked him to be a spokesperson and that killed hisdeal with PBS (his first network gig). Now Bob has"Home Again with Bob Vila", "Bob Vila's Guide toHistoric Homes" and others plus specials, booksand tapes and even "Bob Vila's Home Design" serieson two CD's (handsomely packaged, of course).They are recycling the first PBS shows and callingthem "This Ol' House Classics". Bob is a TVpitchman, too. He sells credit card debtreduction and every product Sears can come upwith, plus a closet full of books and videos.

This didn't happen by accident, but by cleverdesign. The design element continues today, everytime you see him on the tube. How did he do it? Simple, all he did was tell all the people on TVto call him by name, over and over. A lot likesubliminal advertising. You don't realize you aregetting the message. A typical segment of any ofhis programs, past or present, might go like this:

Bob: Today on our show, Fred Murtz is going toshow us how to cut a board with a handsaw. Welcometo our show Fred.

Fred: Thanks, Bob, glad to be here.

Bob: You've been cutting boards for a long time

Fred: I sure have Bob. I got my first hand saw atage seven, from my grandpa. I brought several sawsto show you, Bob.

Bob: Show us how to use that saw (pointing)

Fred: That is a crosscut saw, Bob. It is themainstay in most basic construction. Bob, this isthe easiest of all saws to use. You hold it likethis, Bob. And when you begin the movement up anddown, you put your index finger along the sidehere, can you see that, Bob? That's how you cutstraighter Bob, with that little finger pointingthe way.

(and so on.) catching on? Everyone Bob talks withuses his name repeatedly. If you look at it apartfrom the program, you can see that people don'treally talk that way. Could all his guests beinstructed to use his name in every sentencepossible? Bob never uses their name after theintroduction until the end bit when he thanks theguest, by name.

So who's name do we hear, hundreds of times in aprogram? Bob Vila! It didn't take long for him tobe recognized as consummate hammer and nails guru. Better yet, he doesn't do any of the work on hisshows, he just gets people to use his name whilethey do it all.

How does this relate to sales you ask? Easy, youcan use the Bob Vila approach on your customers. Use their name at every opportunity. Practiceuntil you can use it in every third sentence. Itwill create an instant rapport. The more you canuse the customer's name, the more you can buildtrust and confidence with that person.

Think about the many times you have watched Bob onTV and not noticed how the guests use his nameover and over. The majority of people don't see ituntil someone (like me in this article) points itout. Most folks never see the hidden meaningthere, or recognize the unusual sentencestructure. You can use name-infected sentences inany conversation, to your advantage, every time. They work, beautifully. And they never offend("Hey, Fred, would you mind not using my name somuch, I'm sorta sensitive!").

The next time you talk with a customer, rememberwhat Bob Vila did and you, too, can be the mostrespected person in your field.

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