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*A Book Review*

Tested Sentences that Sell

By Elmer Wheeler

by Michael C. Gray

April 30, 2008

Imagine having "magic phrases" that will predictably and naturally persuade your customers to buy more, no "wrestling match" required.

In the early 1900s, Elmer Wheeler sold advertising for the Los Angeles Herald, the Rochester Journal, the Albany Times-Union and the Baltimore News Post.

When he visited retailers and told them his advertising would help fill their stores with customers, they would say, "So what?" The customers who came in were "shoppers", "lookers" and "walk-outs".

Wheeler investigated the problem, and found the reason so few people were buying was the salespeople who served them. The salespeople received very little training, and their minds were not on selling but getting married so they could quit working and going home!

Wheeler started studying how customers respond to different selling phrases and physical presentations. He founded the Wheeler Word Laboratory and Tested Selling Institute, and consulted for many of the large retail organizations of his time, including Macys, J.C. Penneys, Sears Roebuck & Company, the Barbasol Company and the Hoover Vacuum Cleaner Company.

He became famous for the phrase, "Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle!"

Here’s an example of a magic phrase. A customer would bring a little boy in to buy shoes. If the salesperson would try to persuade Mom to buy Indian moccasins for her child, no sale. If the salesperson laid the moccasins in front of the little boy and said, "The kind REAL INDIANS WEAR sonny!", sales increased.

For Barbasol shaving cream, "How would you like to cut your shaving time in half?"

Wheeler said most choices should be phrased as "which" questions, with two positive alternatives. "Would you prefer the blue blouse or the beige blouse?" Some salespeople call these "Wheeler which’s". Others call them "yes or yes" or "alternative choice" questions.

Wheeler said your approach should telegraph a major emotional benefit to bypass the logical resistance of the customer.

Then you should Say it with flowers, or demonstrate your statements so the customer will believe them. Get the customer involved through physical action in the sales demonstration.

The selling process is too important to leave to chance. The sales presentation should be choreographed with the most effective phrases and actions to get the desired result. Advertising and sales letters are salesmanship in media, so the same principles apply.

Elmer Wheeler was one of the pioneers in sales choreography.

This is another of the selling classics that every business person should read. Although it is out of print, you can find it as an ebook on the internet.

Buy it on Amazon: Tested Sentences That Sell: How To Use "Word Magic" To Sell More And Work Less!.

For our new reviews of business and self-improvement books, subscribe to our newsletter, Michael Gray, CPA's Tax & Business Insight!

Your business can benefit from the in-depth research on selling phrases and physical presentations explained in Tested Sentences that Sell.


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Michael Gray, CPA
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