Having written a bunch about Dale Carnegie’s views on persuasion, I’d like to share an anecdote of my own. I was getting my car washed the other day, and, for the first time ever, was “upsold” a hand wax. I provide more details below, not out of raging narcissism, but because the sales pitch was top-notch and I think illustrative of more general questions.

The Setting

I get my car washed at Lozano’s, which I think does quite a good job. The routine at this place is:

  1. Queue in your car until you reach the vacuum station
  2. Leave car in the care of the attendants
  3. Pay
  4. Pick up your car after drying, etc.

Step (2) is the only slightly stressful one; if the place isn’t busy, and you don’t have to queue, you pull right up to the vacuum station and then have to collect your stuff, close up the car, unlock the doors, blah-blah-blah while one or two guys are waiting to pounce on your car’s interior.

The Narrative

On this particular occasion, the place wasn’t busy, so I pull up to the vacuums and start buttoning up the car. As I’m raising the windows and top, a guy walks over to try to upsell me. I decline, as usual.

After I close up the car and get out, another guy approaches me. He points out a paint scrape on my rear bumper, and says that they can get it off with a hand wax for mumble-mumble. That sounds good to me, as I’ve been meaning to do something about the paint for, oh, two years or so. I ask how long it will take (10 minutes) and, bingo, I’m sold.

The paint came off just fine; I’m a happy camper.

The Lessons

The successful salesman:

  • Waited until he could get my full attention
  • Began by discussing one of my problems
  • Then explained how his service could fix it

I should add that the unsuccessful salesman wasn’t rude or unpleasant, just less effective.

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