How to Unlock Sales Possibilities With This Magic Question

I have no idea who came up with this idea. I only know it works.

Sales skills: the magic wand question

Photo by Elnur/dpc

A Sales Call Surprise

A few years ago a television advertising salesperson on the West Coast took me to meet the marketing director of a medical practice. The practice covered a lot of ground — among their divisions was OBGYN, aesthetic medicine, ear/nose/throat, hearing, plastic surgery, and sleep medicine.

Our conversation quickly focused on the aesthetic medicine department, and we spent 50 minutes talking about botox, fillers, laser hair removal, and chemical peels. In my mind, I had a pretty good idea of the creative strategy I was going to work on; it was time to wrap the meeting up.

So I asked her the “Magic Wand” question:

“Let’s say you had a magic marketing wand. You can wave it and make your advertising accomplish one thing for you that it’s not doing now… what would you use that wand to do?”

I assumed that she’d use the wand to increase Botox sales, or bring in more hair removal customers. Boy, was I wrong.

“I’d use it to sell more hearing aids.”

This sales question can bring a surprising answer

Photo by Ana Blazic Pavlovic/dpc

We’d been talking for more than an hour, and she had not said a single word about hearing aids. But it turned out that the practice owner had been complaining about sales in the hearing division, and she was going to have to do something about it.

Instead of one idea to bring back, I now had two. Instead of one division’s budget to work with, we now had two.

Instead of the $3,500 per month we’d been planning to ask for when we came back, we proposed $7,000 per month. We didn’t get all of it, but we got close.

Sales Skills: Why The Magic Wand Technique Works

In Close More Sales! Persuasion Skills That Boost Your Selling Power, Mike Stewart says that the Magic Wand Technique

…can start the creative juices flowing in your prospect and increase his involvement in the sales process…Encourage your customer to explore different possibilities. You never know what he might come up with, and you never know where he will find a solution that you can provide and that will be the emotional trigger needed to close the sale.

Don Fitzgibbons, author of The Guru’s Rules for Local Advertising, has this advice for making the question most effective:

The wish has to be very specific. A wish for “more customers” is not specific. A wish for “more customers who will buy four wheel drive trucks” is very specific.

The wish must also be realistic. “I want more people to buy air conditioning in December.” Sorry, not gonna happen.

I learned the Magic Wand Question almost two decades ago as a radio Account Executive, and have been using it ever since. It works because it makes clients stop and think about what they really want. There is often a long pause, as the customer gazes at the ceiling and ponders.

How often does the Magic Wand Question elicit a big surprise? Not that often. In a typical week of needs analysis calls with a television station, I might meet with 20 clients and get three genuinely surprising answers.

But those three can be big ones — and I never know which three it’ll be — so I ask the question every time.

Question: What’s the most surprising answer you ever got to a sales question? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


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One thought on “How to Unlock Sales Possibilities With This Magic Question

  1. Great point here. It’s important to remember that the client might not necessarily be telling you everything they need. Thanks for sharing this “magic” question to ask!