Four Things Cutco Teaches About Online Sales

How selling knives in homes is similar to online copywriting

Not long ago, a family friend came over to the house. But this was no courtesy visit.

Our friend wasn’t interested in small talk. “Joe” was out for a sale. Joe sold Cutco knives. He had a bag full of knives and head full of stories – not to mention a stack of order forms waiting to be filled out.

As I thought about Joe’s pitch, I noticed some similarities between his Cutco spiel and an online sale. I’ve outlined the process to help you map your process for selling online.

Step #1: Corner the Prospect

I know Joe from my daughter’s speech club. He called me to schedule a demonstration the week before. Because we have a relationship with Joe, I consented. As a result, Joe got the appointment. Anyone in sales knows that an appointment is not the same thing as a pitch – but it’s a start.

It’s the same thing with selling high-end products and services online. In order to sell something valuable, you need people to talk to. You can get a list of interested prospects several ways. You can purchase the list (bad), you can borrow it (better), or you can build it yourself (best). However you do it, you must get enough interested people into your sales funnel. The more prospects you have, the better your chances of closing a sale.

Step #2: Demonstrate Your Product

Once Joe sat down, he meticulously reviewed the pitch he learned in Cutco University. He told how Cutco’s “Double-D” edge blade stayed their sharper than other knives. From the full tang blade to the Wedge-Lock handle, these knives could slice and dice better than infomercial knives. His scissors cut through a penny. His serrated-edge knives sliced through rope. He demonstrated his knives with conviction.

And it was convincing.

It’s now easier than ever to demonstrate your product or service online. If you’re selling information – write articles or record interviews to demonstrate your expertise. If you’re selling products, make a video showing the effectiveness of your product. You may not be able to cut a penny on your prospect’s table, but you can upload a video and embed it on your website.

Step #3: Position the Offer

Cutco knives are expensive. The standard set is $500. But Joe didn’t tell us the price right away. After demonstrating his knives in all their kitchen glory, he directed our attention to a competitor: Henckel knives. Evidently a set of Henckel knives costs a hefty two grand. This psychological move positioned Cutco knives as a value compared to Henckel.

If you’re selling a high-end product, one of your most precious assets is your price. Reveal it before your prospect understands the benefits of your offer and they’re gone. They will disengage. You must demonstrate how your high-end widget will benefit your prospect. The greater the benefit,  the greater the value in your prospect’s eyes. Marketing legend Seth Godin composed this simple equation:

Value = Benefit/Price

Increase the benefit and the price will be less important – the value would be high. Decrease the benefit and the price is more magnified – the value would be low.

Step #4 – The Close

Joe didn’t pull out the hard sell for us. He didn’t need to. We were sold on those $86 penny-cutting scissors the moment a half-pence flew across the room. But he still asked for the sale. In simple, easy to understand terms, he asked for the order. He also got the order.

In the same way, online copywriting is a sales pitch. You must ask for the order. Leave out the close and your orders will suffer. Be direct. Make a bold button: “Add to Cart”, “Click Here to Order”, “Buy Now”. Whatever you do, don’t mince words. You’re not a charity worker, you’re in business. Ask politely, but ask for the order.


The entire Cutco experience seemed so-last century to me. And yet, despite Cutco’s intrusive methodology, I’m glad I sat through the speech. The sales process reminded me about the basic nature of a sale. Every sale involves a prospect with a need, a potential solution, an offer, and a close. Fail to address each of these areas and your online orders will suffer. Embrace the process and you’re one step closer to improvement.