Getting People to Pull the Trigger

At a recent AIA presentation of our CEU Staying in Front of Your Customers, one of the architects said that the biggest challenge they face in business today is getting people to pull the trigger. Our response was, “Ain’t that the truth!”

Money drives the trigger, doesn’t it? It always does, but what helps the trigger pulling is your ability to entice – to make the proposal so attractive, that a client can’t help but pull the trigger! This is true whether you are selling architecture or consumer goods or anything. Enticement isn’t easy.

Elmer G. Leterman, one of the founders of group insurance and one smooth enticer, was also an author and wrote, “The Sale Begins When the customer Says ‘No.’” It’s very hard to find copies of this wonderful book, but in a chapter “Close It but Don’t End It,” he covers this topic of getting people to pull the trigger, or as he calls it, “the closing.” Let me quote something he wrote about insurance that applies as well to architecture or anything you are selling:

“Whether the product being sold is something as intangible as an insurance plan or something else…the psychology of closing varies little. In the body of the interview, the sale has been promoted by a combination of solid logical arguments and by the building up of confidence in you and in everything you represent – your company, your service, your integrity….but logic alone is not enough. I have always proceeded on the theory that emotions simulate action; logic stimulates only thought. Digging deep into the wallet is a step that requires an emotional stimulus.”

Don’t you agree?

Unless we feel good about pulling the trigger, it doesn’t get pulled, regardless of what we are buying. So Elmer’s advice was to appeal to the heart of the buyer, not just the mind.

So, how do you do that? In one instance, we advised a client to do a survey of the tenants prior to submitting the proposal – an independent needs assessment in terms of office requirements from the tenant point of view – not the owner’s. Our client then built those requests into the proposal, and when building owner questioned why a few of them were there when he didn’t ask for them, our client took out the survey and showed the owner that his tenants wanted those upgrades. That $10,000 investment in research paid huge dividends in many ways, not just financially. Our client got “closer” to the owner, and our client demonstrated an emotional commitment to the project (money ALWAYS demonstrates emotional commitment). So besides demonstrating that the firm had the talent to do the renovation, our client demonstrated to the owner their “skin in the game.”

We did this after the lesson we learned from our consultant friend, John Caslione ( who talked about a large process valve manufacturer that was bidding on a new installation for a plant. The valve manufacturer knew he would be up against some stiff competition, but he had an advantage: he had his own product already installed in the plant. So instead of just sitting down to do the pricing of what the additional valves would cost, he did a mean-time-before-failure study on his existing product in that plant (costing many thousands of dollars). Then, as part of his presentation, he included this study, with the information of what installing his new valves would mean in terms of ROI. When the client asked, “But what about the other valves in my plant that aren’t yours?” The valve manufacturer said, “Well, I don’t have that information on those products.” The client gave not only the project to the manufacturer — he awarded a three-year changeout of ALL products in the plant that were NOT his!

The point? Sometimes if you want to get people to pull the trigger, maybe you should shoot first!

For more conversation, or to discuss triggers in your business, go to and talk to us.

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