The secret to selling with only a single sentence

friday, 9 march of 2012

The secret to selling with only a single sentence

by Tom Trush

If you recognize the saying "Don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle," then you've had an introduction to Elmer Wheeler.

A master salesman and pioneer of persuasion who rose to prominence in the 1930s, Wheeler came up with the seven-word phrase to explain the importance of demonstrating benefits in selling situations, instead of describing details and facts.

What made Wheeler extraordinary was his ability to step into corporations and stores, study their operations, and then construct single sentences that caused sales to soar. He claimed to have used 105,000 sentences on 36 million consumers to determine which specific words produced the best results.

For example, when Barbasol hired Wheeler to increase shaving cream sales, he tested 141 sentences on potential customers before selecting "How would you like to cut your shaving time in half?"

The result?

Sales jumped 300%.

When Texaco's management team wanted to increase revenue, they sought out Wheeler to come up with a replacement for the typical "Check your oil today?" question that station attendants asked customers who stopped for gas.

Wheeler was paid $5,000 (obviously, a huge sum in the 1930s) for the following nine-word inquiry: "Is your oil at the proper level today, sir?"

During the next week, Texaco's filling-station men found themselves under 250,000 vehicle hoods.

Wheeler proved if you ask the right question, you'll get the sales you want. The foundation for his word magic came from countless hours of observation and common sense, which eventually led him to create his five "Wheelerpoints."

Wheelerpoint #1: Don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle!

Tom's translation: Your prospects don't care about your actual legal services -- only the benefits they provide.

Wheelerpoint #2: Don't write -- telegraph.

Tom's translation: You have only a few seconds to grab your prospect's attention, so be concise and use your words wisely.

Wheelerpoint #3: Say it with flowers.

Tom's translation: Demonstrate your legal services by using words that create mental images in your prospects' minds -- and back up your claims with proof.

Wheelerpoint #4: Don't ask if -- ask which!

Tom's translation: Always offer prospects a choice between something and something -- not something and nothing.

Wheelerpoint #5: Watch your bark!

Tom's translation: The presentation of your message is just as important as the words you write, so keep your copy conversational and engage your prospects.

In 1947, Elmer Wheeler presented his five "Wheelerpoints" in "Man to Man," a 24-minute training film for gun dealers about salesmanship and psychology. You can check out the classic footage here: (When you watch the film, you'll see how Wheeler's selling principles apply to any industry.)


© Trey Ryder

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