Today, I was at a sales presentation by branding expert Gair Maxwell. He was talking about Jim Gilbert, one of his clients who has a used car dealership. When you think of a used car dealer, unpleasant attributes come to mind. Sleazy, untrustworthy, …

This used car dealer had a branding problem. Who is going to believe a used car guy anyway. Right? So rather than talk about cars and his trustworthiness and his integrity as a “normal” dealer would, he went for help.

Gair helped him redefine his brand to “Canada’s Huggable Car Dealer”. When you go to Jim’s car lot, you find teddy bears in all of the cars, they have teddy bears in their showroom. The salespeople had teddy bears in their offices. The staff is friendly and the entire experience is well, “huggable”.

As Gair Maxwell was talking about his client, he was holding one of the teddy bears as a prop. He asked for a volunteer and handed the teddy bear to one of the participants. I’m not sure if Gair noticed what happened, but as soon as he gave the teddy bear to this grown man, he started to play with it. His whole physiology changed in an instant.

It’s almost as if he went back in time to being a little kid, because the teddy bear itself is such a powerful talisman. When we were kids, most of us had a teddy bear who became our best friend. When we were scared, it made us feel safe. When we went on adventures to visit a friend’s house or to go to the fun fair, or a trip to Disney World, we took our teddy with us. Gair Maxwell used the teddy bear as a prop for his client’s story. This particular prop was super-charged with emotions from the volunteers childhood.

When you tell your company/product story you need to have a prop. The prop allows clients to remember your story. They remember it so well that years later, seeing a similar prop will bring your message back to them. Patrick Renvoise from Sales Brain used to use a Rubik’s cube in his presentation when he sold workstations. He told me that eight years later, he was in another business altogether. A past client saw him at an airport and told him how powerful his Rubik’s Cube prop was.

A prop helps you tell your story, the prop helps clients remember your story. In selecting a prop, if you can find a prop that’s emotionally charged, like the teddy bear, you can use those emotions that are imbued in that prop to help the prospect open their arms to that prop. By doing so, they open their arms to your ideas, products and services.

Find a prop that can help you tell your story.

Happy selling.

About the author 

Umar Hameed


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