10 Year Word Study Tested 105,000 Sentences on 19 Million People

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Sell Your Sizzle Not Your Cow!

The best-looking product won’t sell itself;

The prettiest dotted line won’t sign itself, a check won’t sign itself and a credit card won’t give you it’s details . . . without the intelligent persuasion of somebody’s words – either verbal or written compelling the owner to do so, giving you a sale.

You have no doubt heard of the phrase ‘Don’t Sell the Steak – Sell the Sizzle’ however do you know this came about from a 10 year word study?

Back in 1937 Corporations throughout the country commissioned Elmer Wheeler to set up his “Word Laboratories” and find out winning sentences to sell their goods. Wheeler realized that it was the sales people in the stores who weren’t asking the right questions to their customers.

So he tried and tested 105,000 sentences on over 19,000,000 customers (such a feat would not be viable nowadays – even Donald Trump couldn’t afford it).

He found out exactly what sentences worked like gangbusters. These tested Sentences still work today and will for another 70 years at least. They are timeless.

Wheeler formulas, rules and principles for devising word combination’s which make people buy.

The 10 year study, resulted in the formation of the Wheeler Word Laboratory.

The purpose of this unique laboratory was to measure the relative selling effectiveness of words and their sales techniques, to determine with a great degree of accuracy what formation of words and techniques makes the sale more accurate and faster.

Many stores and manufacturers participated in supplying the Wheeler Word Laboratory with hundreds of selling sentences to be tested, and sales gains were recorded everywhere.

Wherever a salesperson was given a “Tested Selling Sentence” with its proper “Tested Technique” to replace a time-worn statement, sales gains were noted.

For instance, a single sentence increased sales of a manufacturer’s hand lotion at
B. Altman’s on Fifth Avenue from 60 per week to 927.

Another tested combination of words made sales 78 per cent of the times used at R. H. Macy & Company in selling their long-profit brand of coffee and tea.

On another occasion two “Tested Selling Sentences” completely sold Bloomingdale’s, Saks 34th Street, Abraham & Straus of Brooklyn, and William Taylor’s of Cleveland out of tooth brushes – a staple item – for the first time in the history of these important stores.

Ten years of study of salespeople – ten years trying out formulas, rules, and principles – casting them aside for others – have brought forth some sound, sensible methods of salesmanship.

I have the non exclusive rights to Wheeler’s ‘Tested Sentences That Sell’ – I want to share with you each of his 5 Wheelerpoints over the next week or so.

The Five Wheelerpoints are:

1. Don’t Sell the Steak – Sell the Sizzle!
2. Don’t Write – Telegraph.
3. Say It with Flowers.
4. Don’t Ask If – Ask Which!
5. Watch your Bark!

Wheelerpoint 1: Don’t Sell The Steak – Sell the Sizzle!

What we mean by the “sizzle” is the BIGGEST selling point in your proposition – the MAIN reasons why your prospects will want to buy. The sizzling of the steak starts the sale more than the cow ever did, though the cow is, of course, very necessary.

Hidden in everything you sell, whether a tangible or an intangible, are “sizzles.” Find them and use them to start the sale. Then, after desire has been established in the prospect’s thinking, you can bring in the necessary technical points.

The good waiter realizes he must sell the bubbles – not the champagne.

The grocery clerk sells the pucker – not the pickles, the whiff – not the coffee.

It’s the tang in the cheese which  sells it!

The insurance man sells PROTECTION, not cost per week.

Only the butcher sells the cow and not the sizzle, yet even he knows the promise of he sizzle brings him more sales of his better cuts.

For instance, let us take a certain modern vacuum cleaner and see how many “sizzles”  we can develop to get the prospect saying “I want!” instead of “Oh hum!”:

1. Positive Agitation.
2. Time-to Empty Signal.
3. Dirt Finder.
4. Automatic Rug Adjuster.
5. Non-kink Cord.
6. Instant Handle Positioner.
7. Non-tangle Revolving Brush.
8. Grit Removers.
9. Lint Removers.
10. Dust Removers

These ten big “sizzles” will make people buy this particular make of vacuum cleaner. The construction, the mechanism, and the prices are important, of course, but the “I want” points, are labor-saving, more leisure, cleaner homes and health.

Therefore, the vacuum cleaner salesman must advise himself:

Don’t sell the price tag – sell less backaches!

Don’t sell construction – sell labor-saving!

Don’t sell the motor – sell comfort!

Don’t sell ball bearings – sell ease of operation!

Don’t sell suction – sell cleaner rugs!

Health, comfort, labor-saving, leisure, and cleaner homes are the “sizzles” in this particular vacuum cleaner; construction and mechanism the “cow”.

Are you beginning to see what is meant by first finding the “sizzles” in what you are selling, before even attempting to form the words to convey the “sizzles” to the prospect?

Put on a pair of “sizzle specs” now and look at your own “sales package.” Then write down the one, five, ten, or twenty “sizzles” you find – in the order of what at first blush you believe will be of importance to the prospect.

Then Learn to Have “You-Ability”

One BIG QUESTION is running through your prospect’s mind as you are showing your product and telling your sales story.

“What will it do for me?”

Therefore, almost everything you say or do must be said and done in such a way – it ALWAYS answers this important question! You must develop a NEED for your product in the mind of the prospect – for until he realizes a need, you will make little sales progress.

Now all of the “sizzles” you list for your product or services may create a need in the mind of the customer – however you need to remember this, although these “sizzles” may be of EQUAL IMPORTANCE to you, they may differ in importance to your prospect/s.

If you have “you-ability,” you will be able to take your “sizzles” and fit them to each prospect with uncanny accuracy!

“You-ability” is the ability to get on the other side of the fence – to put on a pair of invisible “sizzle specs” and see your product through the EYES OF THE CUSTOMER. “You-ability” is the ability to say “you,” not “I” – and the ability to present the “sizzles” in the order that the CUSTOMER considers important.

Summary of Wheelerpoint 1

Buried in every spool of thread, in every row of safety pins, in every automobile, in every insurance policy, in every grocery, drug, or toilet goods item or every product or service, are reasons why people will want to buy it.

These big reasons we call the “sizzles.”

Before you even start to see your prospects, you must line up, in your own mind, the “sizzles” they will consider important. You will then have a “planned presentation,” based on all the information you can get about your prospects and your selling package.

You will find that the use of the word “you” in your sales presentation, in your written words, (which today can be your blog, emails, letters, website copy)  . . . will have far more results than the word “I.”

Being able to say “you” instead of “I” is known as “you-ability.”

Remember this first Wheelerpoint:

“Don’t sell the steak – sell the sizzle.”

Then with “you-ability” in mind you can convey these “sizzles” effectively to the prospect in the “telegraphic” manner explained in the next chapter.

It’s the sizzle which sells the Your steak – not the cow!

Dedicated to kikcing your ass until you succeed.


Trevor ‘ToeCracker’ Crook
PS. The next wheeler point will be on: “Don’t Write – Telegraph”. If you would like to know more about Tested Sentences – go on over to: www.longlostadvertisingsecrets.com

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4 Responses to 10 Year Word Study Tested 105,000 Sentences on 19 Million People

  • j says:

    Why did you need to add this sentence:

    Yes, I know a few tossers who have brains smaller than a bee’s foreskin will claim these won’t work today etc. and they simply need to take their hand off their dicks and test and measure before running off at their mouth.

    I could have used this in my classroom, but now….not. It’s been removed. It was included as I know what comments I get, so was getting in first.

  • Awesome sales and copywriting advice from the master! Well worth the read!

  • Bill Canaday says:

    Stumbled Up. Bookmarked. What more can I say after I have said “thank you”? I’ve long heard ‘sizzle not steak’ but I never really understood how to separate the two. Your dissection of current advertising campaign copy pointed the way.

    I’ll be back.

  • Betty says:

    I’ve seen the principle work many times, but never had a name for it. Now I know why my slogans (and others) worked.

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