The 8 Words Texaco Used to Increase Sales

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By Keith Curreri on April 03, 2019

In the 1930’s, back when gas stations still had attendants, Texaco experimented with different methods to increase their oil sales to car owners.

Attendants were instructed to ask the following sales question to each customer:

“Did you check your oil today?”

Using this sales line, Texaco was able to sell some oil, but most people declined.

Texaco wanted to up their game, so they hired Elmer Wheeler, one of the most well known sales copywriters at the time, to see if he could help them sell more oil.

After some thinking, Wheeler suggested they change their sales question to:

“Is your oil at the proper level today?”

There was a flood of new sales. In just the first week Texaco sold to 250,000 more customers than they would have with their original question.

You may think that the two questions are not much different – however there is a subtle and major difference.

The new question can’t be brushed off with a simple “No”.

Go ahead, imagine you’re talking to an oil salesperson and they ask you: “Is your oil at the proper level today?” – how would you respond?

You can’t simply say “No thanks” and shrug the question off. You have to think about it.

Wheeler is credited with this concept, which is still taught in marketing schools today.

When you’re phrasing persuasive text, you should never ask a question that can easily be answered with a “No”.

People know when they are being sold to and have their guard up – a lot of the time they’ll say “No” on autopilot, even if it’s something they need or want.

The Takeaway: The way you ask questions to a new prospect is important. Don’t ask questions on your website that can easily be answered “No” without consideration for the question.

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