In 2013, Floored founder and CEO David Eisenberg spent five minutes pitching his company’s big idea to a crowd at the very first Realogy FWD Summit in Madison, N.J.
Those five flawless minutes won him first place and a $25,000 prize. Four years later, Floored has been acquired by CBRE, a Fortune 500 commercial real estate services and investment firm.
He gave the perfect pitch.
David drew his audience — a crowd of top real estate executives — into a brave new world. He painted a clear picture of a bright, three-dimensional future.
When his five minutes ended, the audience blew a storm of pointed questions. The right ones. Ones that gave him permission to delve into the details of his product.
This year, throughout the industry, tech vendors will get the chance to demo their products to similar crowds of real estate people.
They’ll be hoping for the kind of result Floored achieved. But results will vary. Most will walk away with vague niceties, not checks.
Let’s do something about that.
Highway to the heart
Ladies and gentleman, I’m going to show you the greatest kitchen appliance ever made.
In 1956, a young pitchman presented his family’s invention to America. From his very first words, Ron Popeil captured our hearts and sold us his products.
Unlike many of the real estate products being pitched today, Ron’s products — which included Chop-O-Matic, Mr. Microphone, Pocket Fisherman, Veg-O-Matic, Buttoneer and others — were things the world could have easily done without. Yet he successfully sold millions of strangers with greater ease and velocity than any vendor in real estate ever has.
While the cynic will immediately claim the stark apples-to-oranges difference between the one-time purchase of a smokeless ashtray and a piece of business software, that argument only works if you believe sales is only about product.
Popeil knew otherwise.
The perfect pitch is as much about the story around the product as the product’s features and benefits.
The perfect pitch includes the listener. It makes them feel understood.
This highway to the heart is the truest bypass to the wallet.
Popeil understood this. His understanding was formed by a belief that people actually find joy in buying things. He believed they appreciated being sold to properly.
All too often, vendors sell product and product only. It’s the bulk of their demo or pitch. Eyes glaze. Objections rise. The blur of vendor fatigue overcomes the focus of the meeting.
If they sold purpose, they’d close deals much more often.
Popeil’s brilliance was an ability to cast his products within the customer’s story, their life.
Listen closely to his words (I mean this seriously — spend some time on YouTube with Ron Popeil). From carefully chosen descriptive adjectives — remarkable, amazing, fabulous, greatest — he teased people by playing to their desires to own and be those things. He also used powerful nouns like machines, inventions and time-saving devices to shape people’s impressions of his novelties.
These are powerful psychological constructs that light the fuse of desire.
He also wrote brilliant straplines:
It’s as simple as that.
Operators are standing by.
Set it and forget it.
And his masterpiece: But wait, there’s more.
Each of these triggered curiosity and urgency that naturally led to questions and answers about the multitude of features his products offered.
Compare this to the ritualistic drone of real estate vendor demos that kick off with company stats, org charts and banal graphics explaining some convoluted product workflow.
While Popeil’s demos concluded with rapid sales, most real estate tech demos (and we’ve seen hundreds, from both the vendor and broker side) conclude with the audience asking the wrong questions and deals getting hung up on snags like “integration.”
Imagine typing anything you want into this magical box.
You click “return” and a reward will appear before your eyes.
Ladies and Gentlemen, for the next few minutes, I want to show you how amazing your life will be like with…Google.
Curious? Ready for whatever comes next? Want to hear more?
In all the tech demos I’ve sat through, rare is the one that begins with the outcome. The result of the product. The only thing that truly matters to the person being pitched.
Few start by inviting the viewer into a story in which they are the lead character. Stroking their imagination. Ferrying them into a transforming journey.
Seldom have I witnessed instantaneous engagement, trust and edge-of-the-seat anticipation for what’s next.
Lost opportunities abound.
Amidst all the things I don’t know, here’s one thing I do: there’s a disconnect between those who buy real estate tech and those who sell it.
Fix your demo. Scale it back to 5-10 elegant minutes and a handful of stunning slides that transform your audience’s reserve into wonder.
A better version of themselves.
Offering five easy payments wouldn’t hurt either!