From the May 2002 issue of Entrepreneur

We all know what the selling world is like. For every product that comes on the market, dozens just like it follow close behind. Product parity is the name of the game, and consumers know it. Often, the only way you can break through the "me-too" barrier is to introduce the "wow" factor: that intangible element that causes an emotional response in potential buyers, making them take a second look, draw in a breath and say "Wow, I have to buy that."

There are two ways to get the wow factor. The first is by introducing a product that's unique. I recently introduced a product to market that had never been seen before. Called the FoldzFlat Pen, the product folds up flat enough to fit in your wallet, yet opens up into a full-sized ergonomically designed pen. This innovative pen has several things going for it: It's the first of its kind, it has a corporate-type mechanical patent and a registered trademark, and it's perfect for carrying logos and imprints.

But even this kind of product-with the wow factor built-in-doesn't sell itself. After more than 60 rejections, I finally successfully licensed the product to a major promotional products firm (Points of Light), selling more than 2 million units in the first month of business. But what do you do if your product or service is not that special or unique? You've got to create the wow factor in yourself.

How to Get It

The most critical factor in any sale is the individual behind it. You have to stand out from the crowd to be the one name that comes to mind before any others. Here are a few ideas you can use to add the wow factor to your sales personality:

  • Crank up the enthusiasm. You want to be someone who brings energy into a room. When you have a great attitude, you're more likely to outlast other salespeople. And when your enthusiasm is based on a strong belief in your product or service, your customers will believe that you have something of unusual value to offer.
  • Deliver what you promise, and then some. That means making sure the customer gets what he or she expects-and then gets even more. Show the customer you've done your research; that you're interested not just in making the sale, but also in making his or her life easier.
  • Sell through, not to. Everybody sells to their customers. You can add the wow factor by showing your customers ways they can be creative in marketing your product to their customers. Focus on ways you can help them get more business, and they'll probably buy more of your product beyond the initial purchase. You add the wow factor when your customers recognize that they're not just buying a product, they're also building a relationship with someone who can help them build their company.

Anyone can learn to add the wow factor to their sales repertoire. Just because you have a "me-too" product doesn't mean you have to be a "me-too" salesperson. Your goal is to hear your customers exclaim as you walk out the door, "Wow! That's someone I want to do business with again."