Stop Trying to Sell Tums to People without Heartburn

Yes, the title sounds silly. It certainly won’t make sense until you’ve read the entire blog – so, looks like we’ve got you hooked.

Let’s set the stage: Kevin the Salesperson has a giant bowl filled with every flavor of Tums ever invented (all in individually wrapped packages). He’s in a large room filled with 200 people (ages 30 to 80). The room is split right down the middle & separated by a curtain. On the right side of the curtain are 100 people. Left side, the other 100.

Kevin’s mission: Get rid of his bowl of Tums as quickly as possible. If he does it in less than 2-hours he wins dinner for two at the Rooster Tail! Oh yeah, he can give them away OR he can sell them… no rules!

Kevin starts on the right side of the room. He’s thinking, “I got this! All I have to do is get rid of this bowl & I get to take my wife to dinner. Piece of cake! Better get busy… He runs to the far wall & starts asking people, “Would you like a Tums or two?” … “Can I interest you in a delicious Tums?” … “How about a Tums?” The first 25-30 people look at him like he’s crazy & Kevin starts to think, “maybe this isn’t going to be as easy as I thought… 

After a few moments Kevin stands in the middle of the room, holds the bowl up in the air & shouts like a ticket-scalper, “TUMS, FREE TUMS! WHO WANTS TUMS? I’VE GOT TUMS!”


Feeling the pressure & looking at a full bowl of Tums, Kevin sneaks across to the left side of the room to give it a try over there. He reverts back to his initial approach & begins asking the first people he sees, “Would you like a Tums or two?” … “Can I interest you in a delicious Tums?” … “How about a Tums?”

One woman bites. She says, Thank you, Kevin, I have had heartburn since lunch!” Kevin smiles, walks away & gains his composure & makes his way over to a corner to think this through.

He mulls it over, “Heartburn …hmmm. acid reflux… ahhh. I wonder if I should ask people if they have heartburn or acid reflux (seems to be the only reason people take Tums … after all, they’re not candy).  He approaches a group of people & asks if they have heartburn or reflux. Many say YES. Kevin says, they’re $1.00 apiece. No problem. They all reached into their pockets & pulled out cash (one guy even bought 5 of them for $5.00). As he walked away Kevin heard the same man say, “This acid reflux is killing me… can’t even sleep!”

Next thing you know Kevin is swarmed by people. He’s almost knocked down. People couldn’t get ahold of the Tums fast enough.

Gaining confidence, Kevin approaches the next group of 5 people & asks, “you don’t happen to have heartburn or acid reflux, do you?” When all 5-people nodded, Kevin said, “that’ll be $2.00 apiece.” Sold! 

Now, Kevin was born at night… but not last night. He had about 20 Tums left, his confidence was at an all-time high, so he approached the last group of 10 people with $5.00 on his mind – per Tums. He said, “Who has heartburn? Who has acid reflux?  When all 10-people screamed, “I DO” Kevin knew it was over. Done!  Empty bowl in less than 30 minutes – on the left side of the curtain.

Moral of the story? You can’t give Tums away to people that don’t have heartburn or acid reflux. They’re chalky, they’re gritty. Nobody eats Tums for fun. They aren’t candy.

On the other hand (& you’ll agree if you’ve ever had that horrible feeling heartburn creates or were up all-night battling acid reflux) people will pay anything to get rid of both! They don’t care how it tastes & they sure as hell don’t care how much it costs, or if it’s sugar free.

How many times in your selling lives have you tried selling your products to people that had no need for them? Had no compelling PAIN? Can you imagine how much time & energy you have wasted pushing your Tums on people that were heartburn & reflux-free. Tons!

You must know WHY PEOPLE BUY WHAT YOU SELL  – their PAIN. Why do people buy from you? Why don’t people buy from you? Kevin finally figured it out. People need to have heartburn or acid reflux to be “qualified” to buy his Tums. So, he started looking for people with heartburn or acid reflux. He could have spent an entire afternoon on the “wrong” side of that room. No PAIN = No SALE

Make sense? Of course, it does. So why are you still pushing your Tums on people without the burn?

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Dave Tear

Dave is passionate about selling & helping others understand the sales process. Whether a client company has a 5 person sales team or a 300 person National sales force, Dave can Coach & Train them to be the best in their industry.
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