Don’t Sell Prevention — Sell the Cure

“Why isn’t the service contract campaign working?”

sell the cure, not prevention

Photo by Syda Productions/dpc

The question came from a television station Account Executive in the Southeast. He was working with an HVAC contractor who wanted to promote maintenance service agreements. The commercial had been running for about three months and had generated very few calls.

I’ve met with more than a few heating and air dealers and auto repair shops who have done very well with service plans — they are a terrific source of predictable, ongoing revenue.

But the most successful ones have told me that the general public isn’t particularly interested in a service agreement. The best source of leads for such plans are existing repair customers.


Perry Marshall, author of 80/20 Sales & Marketing, explains it this way:

People don’t buy prevention, they buy a cure for their existing problem. If you want to sell it, it’s much easier to sell it as part of a cure than trying to convince someone who’s never had the problem in the first place.”


This applies many categories:

  • When are we most likely to sign up for automated computer backup? Right after our computer crashes.
  • Many of us don’t make the effort to exercise or eat right… but we’ll pay for the gym membership or diet plan to get rid of the weight we gained through poor nutrition and inactivity.
  • Hundreds of thousands of Americans will not bother to get a flu shot… but they’ll head right to the doctor and demand antibiotics once they get sick.

As we strategized about the heating-and-air campaign, I  gave the Account Executive some advice that a very smart HVAC guy once gave me:

The best time to sell a service contract is when we’re in the customer’s home, working on their broken air conditioner.”

The best way to generate more service agreements? Go after emergency repair customers. That’s the advertising target.

Sell the cure.


Sign up for my blog updates and never miss a post. I'll send you the first two chapters of my new book, Breakthrough Prospecting, as a thank-you.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Your Chance to Be Heard -- Comment Here!

2 thoughts on “Don’t Sell Prevention — Sell the Cure