The International Writers Magazine: Makes Sales

Working the Impulse Curve
Antonio Graceffo

walked into a grocery store in order to buy a can of coffee for $6.00. I left with two bags of groceries I didn?t need. I spent $40.00 and worst of all, I forgot the coffee. Why do you find chewing gum, batteries, magazines, candy, crossword puzzles, and really bad books at the checkout counter of the grocery store?

The reason is impulse purchasing. No one makes a special trip to the store to buy any of these items. But when you are in the process of paying for your milk and eggs, you may grab some of these items, without really knowing why. Impulse selling is a technique used by merchants. They know how to lay out their shops or layout their wares in such a way that customers will see a product and purchase it, as an unplanned event. A salesman doesn't have the luxury of waiting for impulse to strike a customer.

Salespeople have to build impulse, create the desire to buy. Behavioral psychology teaches us that our prospects, potential customers, exist on an impulse curve. They range from 'not interested to buy that to buy that and what else have you got? Your job, as salesperson, is to take the prospect from ground zero 'not interested' through the impulse curve, to I'll buy that! and if possible, to What else have you got?

So, how do we do this? Within seconds of meeting a prospect you have to win them over. The most powerful weapon you have in your arsenal of influence is a smile. Smile at your prospect. Next, make eye contact. And of course, project an emotional state of excitement. You are excited about the offer you are going to make to your prospect. Excitement is contagious, make your prospect become excited about it too. Once you have caught your prospect's eye, you can begin speaking. Before launching into a sales pitch, you need an icebreaker. Look around his office and find something pleasant to say. It could be something as simple as, I see you play golf. I am golfer myself. Or, What a fine looking family. I have two children of my own.

Once a commonality has been established, and the ice is broken, you should introduce yourself. Keep it short, people are busy, and you are eating into their time. Your introduction should include your name and company name. Next, you need a short story. Information of any kind is easier to swallow if it is attached to a good story. It is easier to remember and more persuasive. A customer of mine had his car broken into last week. He called his insurance company, and found out that he was only covered for the damage to the windows and doors, but not for the stereo and other items stolen. That's why he came to us, to get an umbrella policy, which would help cover those situations not covered by his regular insurance. Now you have contextualized your product. You have hopefully caught the prospect's interest, and helped him to understand how you can help him. If the story is told right, the prospect will suddenly feel a need to buy a product that he didn't even know existed ten minutes before you entered his office. You are ready to go into your sales presentation. Don't be a robot. And don't ignore your prospect. If you see that he expressed interest in the story, pause, and let him talk. When you said, 'My client had his car broken into' Maybe he nodded his head or registered emotion on his face. Stop, and ask, have you ever had this happen to you? If the client says yes this is a signal of buy in, meaning he understands and believes what you are saying. This is the first of the buying signals. Stop, and let him tell his story.

The basic sales law always applies, ABC: Always Be Closing. Always be aware of the prospect, look for buying signs and changes in emotional state. Don't be a slave to your presentation. Go for the close when you think the prospect is ready. This can be before, during, or after the presentation. If at the end of the presentation the prospect isn't ready for the close, bring him back to the story, or another story, or remind him of his bad experience in the past. Take him through a mini-presentation, hitting the highlights, reminding him of why he needs your product. After the close, you are not done. Now, you go for the close on additional products, features, or service packages. For each additional product, go back to the presentation phase. Present the new product, and assume the close. The prospect is an intelligent person who sees the value of your products and services. He already trusts you. He just bought one product. Clearly he will buy more. Rehash, rehash, rehash, until the prospect stops buying.

When I was working in financial planning, a young planner, went to a very experienced and successful senior planner and asked her how much of a commission split she would require to help him close a $100,000 deal. She said, I will help you close that deal. And you can keep 100% of that commission. But I want 50% of any additional products or services we sell. Sure enough, she pumped the deal up to several million dollars. And both she and the junior rep were very happy with the outcome. The customer who buys one, could buy two, or three, or additional features and services. So, re-hash, rehash, rehash. Steps to working the impulse
1. Smile, eye-contact, enthusiasm
2. Break the ice
3. Tell a short story
4. Watch for reactions
5. Presentation
6. Close when prospect is ready
7. Re-hash, look for additional sales
8. Return to step 3 and work through the curve again and again, until you run out of products or the prospect runs out of money.

Checkout Antonio? website
Get Antonio? books at
The Monk from Brooklyn
Bikes, Boats, and Boxing Gloves
The Desert of Death on Three Wheels
Adventures in Formosa
© Antonio Graceffo September 2006


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