Need to sell more without cutting prices or spending more on ads? It may be possible. Last week, I wrote about Guy Kawasaki’s new compendium of business savvy, Reality Check. One of the little gems he writes about is an experiment that involved selling door to door note cards. A simple but rather weird change in the sales pitch caused the close rate to jump from 40% to 80%:

The theory of “disrupt, then reframe” is that if you introduce a non-sequitur or unexpected element in your conversation and then immediately inject a call-to-action, the customer is more likely to agree to your proposition. The disruption theoretically neutralizes critical thinking and makes a person more likely to agree. This concept is the result of a study by Barbara Davis and Professor Eric Knowles in which they sold note cards door-to-door for a charity. When they told people the cards were eight for $3.00, they had a 40% success rate. When they told people the cards were eight for 300 pennies and then said, “which is a bargain,” 80% of the people bought cards.

This is likely more effective with small purchases and impulse items. Trying to close a Hummer sale by telling the customer it’s only four million pennies doesn’t sound like a winner. Then again, I’ve never tried it. Certainly, auto sales people often try to reframe a high dollar purchase price in terms of a low monthly payment. While that may not be the exact same phenomenon described by Davis and Knowles, there’s certainly some similarity. Typically, that pitch might combine both elements, e.g., “If I can get you that car for $299 a month [disruption, reframing], will you take it? [call to action]”

Of course, in that case the payment plan really is different. An approach used by some product sellers who still demand full payment is to recast the amount in a different way. “Our product lasts for more than 5 years, which means it only costs 2.5 cents per day to use!”

Can you find a way to employ creative disruption?

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