What do good parents know about marketing? Plenty! Have you ever tried to talk a preschooler into taking a bath? Smart parents don’t. What they do at bath time is a technique revealed by marketing genius Elmer Wheeler in his 1937 classic, Tested Sentences That Sell.

You don’t say, “Do you want to take a bath?” That just allows a prospect (in this case your kid) a chance to say No and requires you to cajole, beg, or threaten. If you’re savvy, you say, “Which will it be – a bubble bath or a bath with the crayon soap?”

Similarly, if you have ever worked at a fast-food restaurant, you were probably trained in suggestive sales, as in, “Will that be large fries?” This, too, is a method that Wheeler discovered by scientific observation. What you may not have noticed is that, if you employed that technique, 70% of your customers said Yes.

Elmer Wheeler started out as a newspaper ad salesman. Stores complained that his papers’ ads got people into the store, but then the people didn’t buy anything. When Wheeler carefully analyzed the situation, he concluded that the stores’ salespeople weren’t asking the right questions or saying the right words.

So Wheeler set up what became his famous “Word Laboratories.” He’s the man who taught salespeople to, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” During 10 years of research, Wheeler tested over 105,000 words and phrases on more than 19 million people, and the results of his tests will benefit you today.

Learn from these examples how to get to “Yes.” For instance, a pharmacy was having trouble selling shoe insoles. Wheeler got the salespeople to ask, “Are you on your feet much?” Most people, of course, would say yes to this question. Then the salesperson could hand the customer an insole and say, “This will ease your feet. It’s especially for people who are on their feet a lot.” These words sold hundreds of insole each week.

In a very different business, Wheeler tried and test 100 sentences until he found something that worked. Naïve salesman at a garage had been asking, “Can I check your oil?” to which customers routinely replied, “No.” But then Wheeler had them say, “Is your oil at the safe driving level?” About 58% of customers had to admit they didn’t know the answer to that question, so they felt they had to let the salesman check the oil.

Wheeler came up with a list of five Wheeler Points to help choose the words that work for any business. These lead to very simple, but amazingly effective, words for successful salesmanship. One of these “Wheeler Points” is to give your prospect a choice between something and something, not between something and nothing.

In restaurants, this principle is at work when your waiter says, “Will you be having white wine or red wine with your dinner?” The point is that, at each moment of decision, you word the options in such a way that “No” is never an appropriate response. The choice is always between Yes and Yes.

So remember, instead of “bath or no bath,” it’s “bubbles or crayon soap.”

Author's Bio: 

Robert Greenshields is a marketing success coach who helps business owners and professionals who are frustrated that they're working too many hours for too little reward. Sign up for his free tips on earning more and working less at Robert Greenshields is a marketing success coach who helps business owners and professionals who are frustrated that they're working too many hours for too little reward. Sign up for his free tips on earning more and working less at MindPower Marketing