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Sales Planning - Pattern Interruption

By Steven J. Schmidt

The first example of Pattern Interruption is one where you are going door-to-door in a residential area, working for a cable provider trying to sell cable television to potential customers. The scene is set in football season, and you are going to the door with a football. The football can be small or regular size.

You knock or ring the doorbell, the customer answers, and you say, "I am Brandon Taylor from Alpha Cable, and I'll bet you're wondering why I'm holding a football in my hands, aren't ya?"

This is an approach that completely breaks the norm of a regular salesperson who is just there trying to sell something to someone right off the bat. People typically do not like to be sold because they feel like there is a scam, or someone is trying to hard to push something on you that they do not need.

Moving along, by taking this approach you haven't sold anything to anyone, nor does the person even know that you are there to sell them anything. You have simply just asked them a question.

What do people do when you normally ask them a question? They obviously try to supply you with an answer. Once an individual gives you a response, they become interested as to why you are there and usually want to know more.

Once the customer says, "Yes, I'm interested to know as to why you are holding a football," you then respond, "Well that's because we are letting everyone know that we have a channel that has 24/7 programming, completely based on only football!"

Once you've said that, you can take a second or two to see what the potential customer's reaction is. If the customer says, "wow" or "really," or even "that's really cool," you know you have already gained thier interest, and have done so with only two questions asked.

If the customer doesn't give much feedback, you then stay persistent and confident, and follow that up with another simple question, "Is that something that might interest you?" If the customer says, "yes", then you've obviously started gaining their interest, and can ask them, "oh, that's great, my favorite football team is the Eagles, what is yours?" Remember, you are still gaining their interest, based off of your pattern interruption and moving ever so slightly to having a conversation with that customer.

However, the customer may say, "No, that doesn't interest me," or simply "no." No need for panic at all; you simply point to a random house across the street and continue, "Oh, really, yes your neighbor down the street wasn't interested in football either. What kind of television do you watch?"

If they tell you they like basketball, for instance, you can ask, "Have you ever seen the post-game show with Charles Barkley and Ernie Johnson on TNT?" The customer will usually then be inclined to reply, "Yes, Charles is so funny," or "Yeah, but I can't stand him." You then can start your conversation and ask, "Well which announcers do you like the most?" or "You should have seen last night's game with the Lakers versus the Suns; it was great."

Your conversation about the NBA with a potential customer will begin brewing. This is obviously based around carrying a prop with you, which means not everyone will be interested in football, of course. However, many sales reps carry four or five props with them at one shot.


Suppose you are in a territory where there are many gardens, or the landscaping around the house is exceptional. You will then want to carry some type of a gardening tool.

Once again you ask, "I'll bet you're wondering why I'm holding this garden tool, aren't ya?" The customer will reply, "yes", and you can say, "Well, I'm out here with Alpha Cable, promoting a brand new nutrient that helps your grass grow and look much greener." Or you can state, "Alpha Cable sent me out here to let people know that there is brand new way to grow vegetable faster and more efficiently than you have ever done before." The customer will most likely ask how that's possible. You, the sales representative, then says, "Yes, every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. they have experts on [this channel] who show how to garden more efficiently."

You are now ready to hit the customer with, "Is that something you might be interested in?" Once again, if the customer says yes, then you are ready for a conversation and you can talk more about that channel.

If the customer responds negatively, you can switch the subject, "Well, I've also been sent out here to promote our 2,000 free movies. Do you watch movies?"

Everyone watches movies, so you then ask, "Oh that's great, what kind of movies, comedy, horror, action?" Once they give you an answer, you can then ask them, "Hey did you see Matt Damon in the Bourne Supremacy? That was such a great action movie." You then have something in common to talk about to begin a conversation.

These were all examples of Pattern Interruption - just one of the many techniques you can use to gain the attention of a potential customer.

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