A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 02, 2019
Wheeler’s Which Close ("Don’t ask if—ask which” sales technique)

Entry in progress—B.P.

Wikipedia: Closing (sales)
Alternative choice close: also called the positive choice close, in which the salesperson presents the prospect with two choices, both of which end in a sale. “Would you prefer that in red or blue?”

ElmerWheeler.net
Elmer Wheeler 1903 - 1968
Author, Speaker, Sales Expert

A native of Rochester, NY, Elmer Wheeler was a resident of Dallas, TX for more than 30 years and resided there at the time of his death in October of 1968. He died in Mexico City while travelling to Europe for his third speaking tour. He was a graduate of Utica University, Utica, NY, and was known nationally and internationally as “Mr. Sizzle.”

During the 1929 Depression, Wheeler lost his job as a newspaper reporter. His boss said all he needed were salesmen. Subsequently, Wheeler declared, “I am a salesman.”

Thus beginning his selling career, he expounded an idea of “Tested Selling Sentences” “Don’t Sell the Steak--Sell the Sizzle” was the wise crack he transformed to a business philosophy that lead to the creation of a word laboratory known as “Sizzle Labs,” to weigh and measure the relative ability of words to motivate people.

The New Yorker
Profiles
April 16, 1938 Issue
The Sizzle
By John McNulty
(...)
He (Elmer Wheeler—ed.) worked out the malted-milk-and-egg technique, for Abraham & Straus, so that they might sell more eggs at their fountain. He not only devised the phrase “One or two eggs today?” but also planned the gesture of the clerk holding an egg in each hand.

The scene of the soda clerk, the eggs, and the timid customer (who usually takes at least one egg in his malted milk when all he wanted was a malted milk) is now reënacted thousands of times daily all over the city. It is the perfect example of one of the principles of Tested Selling, which are masterfully explained in an essay written by Mr. Wheeler some years ago and recently expanded into a book with a red-and-yellow jacket. The book has a number of Wheelerpoints in it, and the egg episode dramatizes Wheelerpoint No. 4, which is “Don’t Ask If—Ask Which! “The essence of Wheelerpoint No. 4 is that the customer should always be given a choice between something and something, not a choice between something and nothing.
(...)
At Abraham & Straus, the one-or-two-eggs abracadabra induced seven out of ten customers to take at least one egg.

Google Books
ASTA Travel News
American Society of Travel Agents
Volume 33
1964
Pg. 61:
The famous Wheeler Which Close
The Wheeler Which (written up twice in Reader’s Digest and Fortune Magazine.) is where you show the prospect two or three of what you have for sale, then say, ‘Which of these do you prefer?” Or you say, “Which of these countries do you want to visit first?”

Google Books (2004 edition)
Google Books (1984 edition)
Secrets of Closing the Sale
By Zig Ziglar
Grand Rapids, MI: Revell
2004 (Originally published in 1984)
Pg. 300:
The “Wheeler Which” Close
The “Alternate of Choice” Close was originally identified during the 1930s by sales trainer Elmer Wheeler, who called it the “Wheeler Which.” He was commissioned by the Walgreen Drug chain to help their business. In those days all drugstores had soda fountains which contributed considerably to the profit structure as well as to the flow of traffic in the store.

Malted milks, which sold for fifteen cents, were an extremely popular item in those depression years. One of the things they added to malted milks was eggs. The price of each egg was an extra nickel, and since Walgreen’s bought them for fifteen cents a dozen, the more eggs they sold in malted milks, the greater their profit.

When a customer ordered a malted milk, Elmer taught the clerks to hold up two eggs, smile, and ask, “One egg or two?” In the vast majority of cases, though they had not planned to order even one egg, the customer would take the easy way out and say, “One.”

YouTube
Elmer Wheeler Sell The Sizzle
Mike Stoner
Published on Dec 4, 2006
http://www.elmerwheelerbooks.com
America’s number one salesman, Elmer Wheeler and his 5 selling points. Read his book “Tested Sentences That Sell” at http://www.elmerwheelerbooks.com
1:00
“‘Don’t Ask If—Ask Which!’ Always give the other fellow a choice between something and something, never between something and nothing.

The Art of Selling Memberships by Erik Charles Russell
SALES STORY, SALES TECHNIQUE
One Egg or Two – The Alternative Choice Close aka The Wheeler Which
Posted on April 17, 2015 by erikcharlesrussell
(...)
Walgreens instructed their clerks to ask every customer “if” they wanted an egg to go with their malted milk purchase. Some said yes but many said no. Sales were stinking financially so before they started stinking literally Walgreens hired a sales trainer by the name of Elmer Wheeler to help sell more eggs.

Wheeler instructed the clerks not to ask “if” but to ask “which.”

“Give the customer a choice between something and something, not something and nothing,” Wheeler explained. “Don’t ask the customer “if” they want an egg to go with their purchase. Ask the customer “which” they would like, one egg or two.”

As the story goes, the entire stock of 800 dozen eggs were sold within a week! In fact, customers where saying “give me two eggs” as much as they were previously saying “none!” Today, sales trainers call this the alternative choice close and some old schoolers call it the “Wheeler Which” close.

Seth’s Blog
Hobson’s choice, Occam’s razor, Wheeler’s which and the way we decide
NOVEMBER 27, 2016
(...)
[Some readers were curious about the “Wheeler which.” Elmer Wheeler was a sales trainer nearly a century ago. He got hired by a chain of drugstores to increase sales at the soda fountain. In those days, a meal might consist of just an ice cream soda for a nickel. But for an extra penny or two, you could add a raw egg (protein!). Obviously, if more people added an egg, profits would go up. Wheeler taught the jerks (isn’t that a great job title?) to ask anyone who ordered a soda, “One egg or two?” Sales of the egg add-on skyrocketed.]

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Saturday, March 02, 2019 • Permalink