Why you should know Elmer Wheeler

Why you should know Elmer Wheeler

(and how he can help increase your sales)

I came across the name of one of America’s greatest salesmen the other day and decided to read a little bit more about him.

Elmer Wheeler has often been called one of the “pioneers of persuasion”, and is known as the originator of some of the most commonly used sales lines, including “Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle’, and “Say it with Flowers” (which on its own would be enough to learn about him!).

But the one line that specifically attracted me to the man, and led to this post, was his belief that front-end staff should “not ask if – but which” (in some articles, this concept is referred to as “Wheeler’s which”).

In short, Wheeler taught sales reps to change the way they communicated with the customer. For example, at a diner, waitresses were told to stop asking if an individual would like a small or large drink, and simply ask if that was “going to be a large”.

The concept was the true precursor to today’s focus on upselling customers – and even in his day (starting in the 30’s) – it was a proven method to increase profits at Point of Sale.

Wheeler had a number of significant thoughts on the personal sales process. As a result, it was very interesting reading a little bit about the man this week.