Remember as a kid those paint by number kits?  If you followed the directions (big IF I know), then even the most artistically challenged would have a decent painting when finished.

You’ll never paint the next Mona Lisa this way, but you will have painted something easily identified by others. Grandma won’t have to go through half the barnyard before correctly guessing it’s a cow.

You can sell by the numbers too, and like those old painting kits, it’s a sure way to deliver results.

1. Specifics Sell

The more specific a number, the more believable it becomes.

I began my career in the actuarial profession pricing health insurance.

Pricing a product actually involves a ton of selling.  I needed to sell my results to my boss, to her boss, to the sales department and even to the state insurance regulators.  If even one of these people didn’t buy my analysis, it was back to the drawing board.

At first I thought, hey these are busy people, I’ll just ballpark it for them.  If my analysis said the price should be $278.12 then I would say $280.  If 24.4% of our customers were families with two kids I would say roughly 25%.

People weren’t buying what I was selling.  I would get grilled about my results, until I discovered an interesting phenomenon.

As I answered the follow-up questions with specific numbers the pressure eased.  Irregular numbers, numbers with decimal points, even sometimes inconsistent all seem to imply on a subconscious level that I must know what I’m doing.  That I must have done some serious number crunching to get $278.12.


Also known as What’s In It For Me.

How are you going to make the client’s life better, easier or more profitable?  Will you reduce their expenses?  Increase their sales? Save them time?

Tell them exactly what they can expect if they work with you. Which of the following statements would you find most compelling?

We’ll save you money.

We’ll save you money in the first 12 months.

We’ll save you at least 20% on your expenses in the first 12 months.

3. WIFM – The Sequel

What’s In It For My Customers?

If you are in B2B sales you must consider your client’s customer.  When I ran an import company I couldn’t just look at the price the store would pay, I had to consider what the store would need to charge the retail consumer.  If the final retail price was not competitive it was almost impossible to sell the product.

Let’s revisit the example in the original WIFM, a service that saves your client at least 20% on their expenses in the first year.  What if you could also say it would reduce wait time by 10% for their clients?

Wouldn’t that be an irresistible offer?

4. The Timetable

People are not patient.  Especially since you’ve done such a great job convincing them of the wonderful results they can expect, or the amazing new widgets they will be receiving.  They want it yesterday now, preferably with a big red bow on top.

State up front exactly what time-frame the client can expect.  If you refer back to the expense savings example, you will see that it included a time-frame of 12 months.  You may wish to further clarify if most of that happens in months 7 to 12.

5. Success Rate

No one wants to be the guinea pig, maybe even the guinea pig wishes he was the family dog.

Here are some ways you can use numbers to sell your success rate:

  • 99.9% on time delivery record
  • Voted best in class for the past 8 years
  • Trusted resource of five Fortune 100 companies
  • Over 1 million widgets sold
  • 2,492 satisfied customers

Final Thoughts

A paint by numbers kit won’t turn you into Monet, and these tips won’t generate a billion dollars overnight.  They will, however, help you grow your sales and your bottom line.

What are some numbers that you’ve used to sell successfully?