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Sell the Sizzle, Not the Sausage

Margo Manning

The best managers know exactly how to engage their team and to extract the best from them, and their secret recipe for success is ‘selling the sizzle and not the sausage’. Contributor Margo Manning, Leadership and Management Coach and author.

This means that they sell the benefits of a particular task or project rather than the functionality involved. This is far from an innovative approach, though: this old sales technique sees salespeople advocate a product’s benefits rather than its functionality. For example, if you want one of your employees to take on another task, it will increase the company’s productivity, expand its offering, save time and grow the bottom line. The above is the sausage.

Now let’s get to the sizzle. You need to communicate to your colleague what reward they will see for their additional workload, and this reward should be relevant to them. So consider what will motivate them: do they want to be able to learn something new, or to get experience in a new system, or more involvement with senior management? Bear in mind, though, that what you perceive as the ideal sizzle might not work for the individual, find out for sure by asking them directly what they feel they will get out of this new task. Hold regular one-to-one meetings to get a realistic idea of what motivates the individual, then support them to achieve the result they anticipate from the task. Remember, it is their motivation that will get things done, not yours.

Allocate time with each team member to figure out what will influence their working style in the best possible way, and this way you build upon your working relationship. Motivation is a personal matter, and not about the manager, the department, or the company as a whole, but what personally inspires an individual. After all, everybody benefits from approaching an individual with the right sort of motivation. Here are six simple points to remember when looking to sell the sizzle.

Familiarise yourself with what motivates every individual through one-on-ones. Ensure not to rush through these, and do pay close attention to what each person says, may as much attention to what they are not saying. Take notes if it helps you – particularly if you are heading a large group of people.

Personalise your approach to each person based on what you know about their motives. Remember, one person’s sizzle is not another’s, so mix it up. If you took notes earlier, refer to them before acting upon them.

Ask the individual openly what they would feel motivated by, and what benefit they will get out of taking on a particular task. Failure to invite the input of the individuals you are working with will deem this entire approach a waste of time.

Consider what you know about each individual already and what you think may motivate them based on this knowledge. On the off chance that somebody isn’t sure when you talk to them about what would motivate them in the workplace, you will be in a position to make suggestions and discuss them with the individual.

Share the goals that you have in mind for the company as a whole, so that everybody can decide exactly what benefit they can take from them, and come to a more informed decision about what they consider their sizzle to be.

Deliver that sizzle! An integral part of selling the sizzle is making sure that it actually arrives. This way you strengthen your working relationships with your colleagues and give them reason to have confidence in you and support such efforts in the future.

Inevitably you will experience times without any sizzle, and when you find this happening, it must be addressed with honesty. Sometimes in the workplace, you do things that you don’t really enjoy, and you as a manager cannot ignore or hide from these difficult tasks, and nor can your colleagues.

But for the most part, you should be able to identify some benefit that the other party can enjoy from these tough times, and you should make it a priority to find one if you hope to get the best results out of your team. Sizzle, sizzle, and sizzle some more!

Margo Manning is author of The Step Up Mindset for New Managers (£14.99, Panoma Press).

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