The Million Dollar Potato Peeler Sales Pitch

1. Stop traffic.

From Kevin Rogers: Once a small crowd has gathered Joe waves his audience in closer as a “courtesy” because it “saves me shouting.” He promises, “I won’t ask you for money” to differentiate himself from the panhandlers in the streets of New York City. (And technically he does not ask for money, he asks for a sale.)

How Associations, Non-Profits and Member Based Organizations Can Use This:

Driving attention to your site or events shouldn’t simply be a matter of a statement, but treated as a something that shouldn’t be avoided. Instead of simply “Career Development Day” you may look to stop traffic with a more engaging headline like “Hiring Managers are Secretly Looking For Three Critical Skills In New Marketing Candidates! Our Speakers Share It All on May 14th!”

Focus your copy on the major takeaways and benefits. Make it exciting! Get the attention of your audience and create headlines that make them have to pay attention!

2. Show your credentials.

From Kevin Rogers: Notice that Joe surrounds himself with proof of his credentials; his Daily News article is on display, as is his feature article in Vanity Fair and a photo of his appearance on the Today Show. This makes the audience feel safe and provides Joe celebrity status.

How Associations, Non-Profits and Member Based Organizations Can Use This:

Tap into the remarkable history, accomplishments, brands and industry influencers within your organization. Showcase the people who have experienced first hand the value in the organization. “Our members have been featured on/in” or “Our members include leaders from companies like XYZ” can be a great way to quickly add credibility and proof of the value your organization delivers.

3. Big action opener.

From Kevin Rogers: Once the audience is close, Joe doesn’t waste time making hyped-up promises or small talk, he just gets right to work demonstrating what his product does and why it matters to his prospects.

How Associations, Non-Profits and Member Based Organizations Can Use This:

Share your success stories. In fact, make them part of your ongoing marketing efforts.

Struggle. Discovery. Solution. Feature success stories or impact statements from members on your website, direct mail materials or marketing campaigns. This can take the form of “Membership Means…..” And get specific around what membership has done for those in the organization.

By crafting messages around problem statements and highlighting how peers in your organization have overcome common challenges, you’re able to immediately answer the questions of why I should join?

People don’t want to join because of the event, education or movement. They join because of what these things can do for them or those they serve.

4. Describe the tangible benefits.

From Kevin Rogers: Joe knows his product will appeal to busy moms, so he says, “You do that with the kids, they’ll eat their vegetables.” There’s another brilliant example of some “beyond benefits” a minute or so later when Joe explains that if you fry potatoes and drink red wine like the French, “You’ll live forever, you’ll never die.”

How Associations, Non-Profits and Member Based Organizations Can Use This:

Think through the countless ways members benefit. Most associations, non-profits and member based organizations have more than enough stories to go around. There will be obvious benefits and not so obvious benefits. Your job is to dig deep, uncover the obvious benefits and then dig deeper to find the not-so obvious benefits that can be much more inspiring.

For example, you may describe how one member was stuck for years but through your certification program, she was able to structure her team in a way that enabled her to overcome the micromanagement holding her back and grow her business.

But not just that, she was also referred by an association peer to someone who is now her largest customer. The training and events are incredible for professional growth, but the quality of the network is so strong that just one new connection can absolutely change your life.

5. Use humor to bond with your audience.

From Kevin Rogers:  “Doesn’t matter if you’re right handed, left handed, or like a politician — under-handed.” This is masterful use of the humor as bonding tool. It furthers Joe’s “man of the people” credentials even though he was a millionaire living on Park Ave.

How Associations, Non-Profits and Member Based Organizations Can Use This:

Humor is a powerful communication tool. If there are common sayings, challenges or analogies amongst peers in your industry, a little humor can go a long way.

You can use this with your audience by finding a common enemy to poke fun at, but keep it lighthearted unless your market is extreme in its beliefs. You’ll see this among the breast cancer community who often create shirts and slogans such as “Yes, my boobs are fake. My real ones tried to kill me!” and hundreds of others. They understand that using comedy enables helps create a more comfortable environment where people are more likely to start valuable conversations.

A few years ago, I had a client in the facility maintenance industry. Companies in this industry are all too familiar with the challenges of fixing leaking pipes, due to the unpredictability and immediate damage this issue can cause. I pitched an idea of a campaign around the slogan “we take leaks”. It was just a fun way to get the community of peers, who understand challenges those outside of the tribe, to feel connected and have some fun recognizing the challenges they all face.

6. Show the dreadful alternative.

From Kevin Rogers: Joe holds up the common potato peeler most of us have in our kitchen drawer and says, “You can’t slice potatoes like that with one of these things.” This simple reference to the norm makes what we’ve been using to peel potatoes feel desperately inferior and creates a sudden urgency to replace a utensil that was far from our minds just two minutes earlier.

You can use this by pitting the way your prospects typically do things against how life could be if they were armed with your product or service.

How Associations, Non-Profits and Member Based Organizations Can Use This:

One of the easiest ways is to paint a “go it alone” picture for non-members.

Your organization stands for something. Associations and member-based organizations are built around the simple concept of accomplishing more together than could be accomplished individually.

You can craft your message around existing members who resisted joining for years, thinking they could do it on their own, and the time they now realize they lost due to the impact the membership has had on them in such a short period of time. This is the “I wish I had done this five years ago” story.

Another way is to highlight the value of being a part of something bigger than yourself. “Who Ya Gonna Call” is a play on the old ghostbusters theme, but can be a great way to communicate the value of having a  network of people who have faced countless challenges and have found solutions to overcome. In other words, you can try and reinvent the wheel, struggle to find support, solutions or answers to set-backs OR you could simply reach out to the member base and get answers from those who have already overcome the same obstacles.

7. It’s easy for anyone to use.

From Kevin Rogers: Joe hands the peeler to an audience member and has her glide it across a carrot. This gives the audience “social proof” that it isn’t just Joe’s prowess with the tool that makes it so effective. The thing really works!

You can use this online by showing video testimonials of people bragging about how great your product works for them.

How Associations, Non-Profits and Member Based Organizations Can Use This:

The benefit of most associations is the breadth of resources and opportunities. You may want to showcase brand new members, even those on the lowest membership level, who saw immediate, positive impact from their decision to join. Show how easy it is to get involved and the positive impact membership can have at all levels.

“On the first call, Deb asked me what my reason for joining was and I explained an issue I was having. Right there on the call, she connected me to another member in Dallas who gave me a solution that could have saved me two years of headaches”.

8. Reveal “the catch?”

From Kevin Rogers: Here Joe says, “There’s no trick there’s no skill, but you must use at least six slices.” The caveat is hardly a deal breaker, however by revealing it and adding in the word “but…” you know he’s giving you the truth, making it easy to give him your trust.

You can use this by looking for a place to reveal a small flaw or caveat to your product’s magic and exposing it to build trust.

How Associations, Non-Profits and Member Based Organizations Can Use This:

It’s important to address the common objections people may have to getting involved.

This is a fairly easy one for associations because the truth is you really do often get out of the membership what you put into it. “The only way you won’t get tremendous benefits from your membership is if you decide not to get involved. If you aren’t looking to grow, build valuable connections, or share your opinions and insights by participating and using the tools the association has created, then I would advise you not to join. But if these are things you’re seeking, then there is no better place.”

9. Close with a flurry of benefit bullets.

From Kevin Rogers:  Now that the demo is complete, the proof is shown and the trust is established, it’s time to open the cash register. As Joe pulls out his big bankroll (more proof that the product is popular) he shouts a litany of features and benefits to knock his prospects off the fence…

“They’re made in Switzerland, they’re not made in China.”

“They’re made of stainless steal, they cannot rust.”

“They’re dishwasher safe and I promise you they never need sharpening.”

You can use this by listing the biggest benefits beside or underneath your order button and again on the order form itself.

How Associations, Non-Profits and Member Based Organizations Can Use This:

If you understand your members then you know some of the bigger pain points they have and how you help them alleviate these things. Take the biggest pain points and highlight the solutions the association has.

“25 chapters across the country, each with networking and learning events monthly.”

“Online learning center where industry leaders share exactly how to overcome the most common obstacles you may be facing in your business/life/situation”

“9 out of 10 members surveyed state that membership has made a meaningful, positive impact on their lives/business/etc”

10. Squash common objections.

From Kevin Rogers: “And if anyone thinks that’s a special one, you can have that one, I’ll use another one.” Clearly a response to 15 years of skeptical New Yorkers insisting that Joe is shooting with “loaded dice”. He knows it’s on the mind of certain prospects, so he squashes it with a quick line.

You can use this by adding a FAQ section to your sales page to tackle common objections.

How Associations, Non-Profits and Member Based Organizations Can Use This:

You can definitely follow Kevin’s advice and put FAQ’s on your site and easily link to them in your marketing efforts.

To go a step further, I’d recommend having your members answer the FAQ’s. In other words, state a common question and, in writing or video, have an actual member answer the question and when possible add in some supporting “I was uncertain about this too - BUT here’s my experience”.

And depending on the size and level of current member participation, if you can segment your membership based on level and get committed ambassadors who may be at those membership levels or who have grown from entry on up the membership ranks, this is a great opportunity to let them sell it for you. Put video testimonials on your site from your ambassadors. And once a prospect gets to a certain point in your “funnel” it can be highly effective to simply give them the contact information and let them reach out to these members themselves.

11. Special offer pricing.

From Kevin Rogers: Joe offers “one for $5 or five for $20”. But notice how he builds to the special offer with his phrasing, “They’re five dollars each, they’re worth every penny, they last a lifetime. You can get two for ten, four for twenty and a lot do — you’ll get one free.”

You can use this by thinking of ways to create special offer pricing, just be careful that it doesn’t diminish the original value you’ve worked to establish.

How Associations, Non-Profits and Member Based Organizations Can Use This:

If you have data on retention and member level growth, how many new members that start at entry level end up investing in higher levels, this will become easy. First, this type of data is a direct reflection of the value, or perceived value, members are getting. This is important.

In a recent interview I did with Bob Perkins of the American Association of Inside Sales Professional, he described a new initiative that provides college and university students with free membership, at an entry level.

This is a remarkable way to build a pipeline of quality, motivated people who can become valued members, and even leaders of the future.

In my opinion, if your association is delivering value, there should be little fear in creating pricing models to get more people involved. And if you fear people taking advantage of the lower pricing and not putting in the effort to realize value, you can always require a certain level of participation in exchange for the special rate. You may require them to sit in on two webinars, attend a live event and meet with a mentor. Whatever it may be, your job is to make sure they experience the remarkable impact your organization can have on their business and life. Sometimes this takes some hand holding but can lead to a resurgence of membership growth.

12. Create emotional urgency and justify with logic.

From Kevin Rogers: “And why would anybody want five peelers if they last a lifetime?” Joe asks, “Cuz you’ve got four friends that’s why.” Then he reminds us that the holidays are coming up and punches the offer with, “you not only save a lot of money, you save a lot of time looking for gifts.” Brilliant.

You can use this by getting your prospects to think about how much the people in their life would benefit from the product and how they’d be a hero for showing up with one as a gift.

How Associations, Non-Profits and Member Based Organizations Can Use This:

There are a number of ways to leverage this for your organization. Depending on what your particular organization’s mission is, you can easily share the ripple effects members have on others in their lives.

“Membership has a larger impact than meets the eye” can be a powerful way to share the stories of how loved ones, employees, vendors and communities have been positively impacted as a result of just one member.

This could be the way a business was turned around and how that impacted the lives of employees and led to more community involvement that impacted another life and so on. If you’re organization is focused on medical illness, there is no question the impact members can have on the lives of others and the positive ripple effects that reach far beyond the individual.

Your association, non-profit or member-based organization exists to serve. It’s easy to overlook the remarkable ripple effect positive change on an individual can make on an entire tribe. This is an opportunity for you to share.

13. Keep selling through the sale.

From Kevin Rogers:  As Joe furiously collects cash and hands out peelers, listen to how he runs through his credentials to nudge people over the fence and help them justify their emotional decision to buy…

“Fifteen years I’ve been selling the same thing.”

“1994 I was in the Daily News.”

“Three years ago, Vanity Fair. Julia Roberts on the cover and me in the middle.”

“Best $5 you’ll ever spend.”

“You can’t buy anything in this country that’s made in Switzerland for five dollars… A Swiss Army knife is nearly $100.”

“They don’t make cheap things in Switzerland, they make good things.”

and my favorite line… “You’re not buying these because they’re cheap, you buy ‘em because they’re good and they work.”

How Associations, Non-Profits and Member Based Organizations Can Use This:

“You’re not buying these because they’re cheap, you buy ‘em because they’re good and they work.” This is the impact statement Joe Ades used selling those potato peelers on the streets of the NYC and it’s worth paying attention to.

“You’re not joining because of XYZ, your joining because deep down you know YOU can make a difference”.

In all sales you hear the advice of selling benefits not features. It’s no different within your association, non-profit or member-based organization. It’s easy to sell features. It’s easy to focus on the fact that you have events, networking opportunities, education and training or fundraising.

It’s easy to focus on raising money for good causes and helping find cures or new ways to combat the ills of society. It’s easy to talk about your history or the number of members.

I challenge you to dig deeper and highlight what is behind all of that. Uncover the thing behind the thing. Uncover the confidence, freedom, pride, potential and positive life changing effects that come with the simple act of being a part of your organization.

Closing this out:

Personal thank you to Kevin Rogers for permitting us to share his article and take a deep dive into how this applies to other industries. I appreciate you my friend.

This was a long one for sure, but I hope you get some benefit from each section and find new ways to tell your story, connect with more people, grow your organization and make a bigger impact on the lives of those you serve.

And more importantly, I hope your efforts to learn, grow, improve and serve others makes your own journey more fulfilling and adds to the legacy you hope to leave to those who follow.

Michael Faye