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Some Odd Insights from the
2022 Pool Spa Patio Show.

After 20 plus years of coaching people how to “tell their story” and persuasively explain their unique advantages to prospects, I figured by now everybody got the message.

I was wrong.

This epiphany occurred last week at a special “Breakfast of Champions” round table event sponsored by the PHTA. This new concept grabbed such industry luminaries as Brian van Bower, Terry Brannon, Scott Cohen, and (perhaps because they were running out of luminaries) even myself.

As table leaders, we were to facilitate a 90-minute discussion on one important industry topic or another. At my table, the chosen subject was “Telling your company story.”

I’ll admit I can’t help you design a vanishing edge pool, but I’m pretty darn good at “telling your story.” So this was right in my wheelhouse.

To kick things off, I shared a few general tips with my fellow tablers, such as “spurn all platitudes” and “paint mental images.” And perhaps most importantly, “Don’t confuse ‘Features’ with ‘Benefits.’”

Surrounded by business owners, I gave each person the opportunity to explain the benefits of working with them. Basically, an elevator pitch, though it didn’t have to be that polished.

One fairly well-known pool industry business had four senior employees at our table. When I turned to my left and asked the business owner what benefits they offer their prospects, he proudly shared a laundry list of features and examples of things they do. I looked around the table and asked “did anyone hear any benefits in any of that?”

Not one benefit was heard.

Next up was the owner’s wife, an enthusiastic co-owner of the company. She verged right to the edge of stating a benefit, but didn’t quite make it. Two more long-term senior people with the company took a shot at it. No one could enunciate a single benefit that would come from hiring them. Features galore, but no benefits.

Fortunately for them, the owner of a Wisconsin-based hot tub company was intently listening from across the table. Within 15 seconds, he stated at least two clear benefits that would make him want to hire them. I agreed completely. The four members of the company in question were in shock.

Now if you are a regular follower of my newsletters, then you’re probably thinking “didn’t Brett just talk about features and benefits last week?”

Yes, I did.

But this shocking experience at the IPSP last week convinced me I needed to say it again.

“A feature is SOMETHING YOU DO.
A benefit is WHAT IT DOES for ME.”

Speaking of which, the rest of the show was a success. The show floor was packed, as was the Heritage Pool Supply charity concert. The Welcome Party on the terrace was convenient and fun, but I should have realized “terrace” means “outside”, so “dress appropriately!” (In which case I would NOT have told my wife “Don’t worry, you won’t need your coat!”)

Surprisingly, two of the best sessions I attended both occurred on Thursday morning, the last day of the event.

Scott Cohen’s session on “How to quickly bond with your prospects” was undoubtedly one of the best sales training sessions I’ve ever attended in my life. Powerful content, presented in a very entertaining way.

Equally powerful was the “Service Industry Consolidation” session which placed two senior members from each of the top three national service consolidation companies (National Pool Partners, Pool Troopers, and SPS Pool Care) together on a panel at the front of the room. They explained what consolidation is, and why it’s so crazy popular right now.

Let me just say that if you’ve ever thought about selling your service business, you owe it to yourself to have a conversation with one, two or all three of these companies.

On a more personal note, I had a fascinating chat with Wallace J. Nichols, the author of the supremely pro-water book “Blue Mind.” So fascinating that I’ll be sharing some insights about that book in an upcoming newsletter.

With that, let me wish all Americans a happy Thanksgiving, and the utmost success to all others across the globe.

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