Life’s a Pitch
When I heard the sad news about Billy Mays passing, it was a shock to me. Here’s another brilliant piece of talent–not to mention a terrific guy, gone forever with the best of them. Mays was responsible for over 1 billion dollars in new sales for the products that he pitched. You can rest assured that this is by no mistake. This guy knew how to choose the right product and make the call when it came to whether or not it would have mass appeal–all usually within 30 seconds.
Mays was born in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania. His claim to fame revealed itself at a Pittsburgh home show in 1993. Mays struck up a friendship with a rival salesman Max Appel. Max, the founder of Orange Glo hired Mays to promote his complete line of cleaners Orange Clean, Orange Glo, OxiClean and Kaboom. With Mays at the “pitch wheel” these products saw a sharp increase in sales almost overnight on the Home Shopping Network. His enthusiastic approach to pitching products won people over and resulted in unprecedented sales for the company Orange Glo International. The rest is history.
When pitching for our own companies, many of us tend to stay “middle of the road” and so do our sales. In the past 23 years of my business experience, I guess it’s just the fear of the unknown that can scare a business into thinking they have to take a traditional approach when it comes to marketing and selling their products and services. If Billy Mays had taken this same approach, he could never have pitched over a billion dollars in new sales for his customers. Now I’m not saying that “tried-and-true” no longer work, (although some would strongly disagree) but I am saying that it’s okay to veer off to the right or the left as long as you have a solid strategy behind it. When Mays created his on-screen personality, it was through years of trial and error that allowed him to hit that sweet spot that made him a household name. Had Mays not gone out on a limb and pushed the limits, he would have never been able to take that next important step on the journey to pitch man stardom. Times are changing. People think very different than they did even 10 short years ago. Edutainment is here to stay and it would be my guess that Mays has and now through his legacy will continue to inspire pitchmen across this great land.
Billy Mays has forever changed the landscape of the infomercial scene. It wouldn’t hurt to take a few lessons from the King of Pitch Men for your business. May he rest in peace.
I am saddened by this loss and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family.