Selling Power Magazine Article

A Little at a Time
Caesar P. Tabet

Psychologists tell us that most people are much more apt to say yes to a new idea if it is presented to them a little at a time. But if the entire matter is thrust at them in one big piece, they probably will turn it down fast.

Publicists put this psychological quirk to practical use; so do teachers. Physicians apply it in healing mental diseases. It has dollar-and-cents value in selling, and many of us use it, perhaps without giving it conscious thought. Its importance was brought home to me again when my nephew, Buster, came to visit me over the holidays.

My nephew wanted a dollar when we first met; he would put it in his bank. The idea was good. Built up by his approach, I bought. Later he asked me for a dollar for another good reason: ice cream. And so on.

He stayed for four days, and after he left, I recovered from exhaustion and realized he had obtained $10 from me. If he had asked me for $10 when we first met, I would have hung him from the nearest lamppost. But he did it step by step, every time presenting a need that was appealing and logical. What could I do but fill each one as it came along?

Buster collected $10 from me, but he reminded me of the importance of that bit of practical psychology in selling: the successful salesman uncovers the prospect’s needs and pictures them in such a personal, appealing way that the prospect can’t help but want to fill them. But if the salesman senses that the prospect can’t or won’t fill them all at one time, he concentrates on the paramount one, taking care of the others gradually and in due time.

To ask for the whole $10 at once is to gamble on all or nothing, with the odds usually on nothing. To ask for it a little at a time, with each appeal touching the prospect’s basic emotions, is to be almost certain of getting the whole thing. 

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