The Benjamin Franklin Close

Updated insider information by Chellie Campbell, author of “The Wealthy Spirit: Daily Affirmations for Financial Stress Reduction”


312-November 8

“Much ingenuity with a little money is vastly more profitable and amusing than much money without ingenuity.”—Arnold Bennett


When I can’t decide whether or not to do something, I use a sales technique called “The Benjamin Franklin Close.” (I don’t know why it’s called that.) I take a piece of paper, draw a line vertically down the middle of it, and label the left hand column “Pro” and the right hand column “Con.” I write down all the reasons I can think of for taking the action in the left column, then all the reasons for not doing it in the right. By the time I am finished, it is clear to me which is a longer, stronger list.

Years ago, when I was trying to decide whether or not to keep my office or move my business into my home, I used this technique. Here’s how it looked:

Pro                                                                                               Con

Save money on rent                                                             Cost of hiring mover

Convenient—no driving to the office                                     Cost of hiring professional organizer

Larger room for giving workshops                                         Cost of reprinting stationery

Prettier, more comfortable workshop room

Work information always available at home

Only need one phone

Access to computer at home and office

It was clear to me that I really wanted to move and that in the long run, it would not only be more convenient, but would save money. Since all of the “Cons” involved expenditures of money that weren’t on my regular budget, I started thinking about how I might “find another way to get what I wanted.” I wanted to hire a mover who was in my LeTip networking group, and I remembered that he had mentioned an interest in my workshop. I called him and asked if he’d like to do me a favor and move me and I would do him a favor and let him take my workshop for free. He said “Yes!” with alacrity.

Chellie in dolphin balloon hat by Suzanne Haring

Flushed with success, I thought the same offer might hold with the professional organizer in the group, and also the printer. They both happily agreed. So the net cost of my move was—zero!

Is there something in your life you are undecided about? Try the Benjamin Franklin Close. If that doesn’t work flip a coin. By the time the coin lands, you’ll know on which side you wanted it to land. You can tell because that’s when you toss it again, telling yourself, “Well, two out of three….”

Today’s Affirmation: “I give of my bounty to others and they bounce it back to me!”

In sales, when you use the Benjamin Franklin Close, you invite the prospect to draw the line on the paper and put “Pro” on the left and “Con” on the right. Then you helpfully brainstorm with them all the possibilities of happy outcomes if they buy your product or service. You dream big and you’re working together with the prospect – it’s fun! When you’ve got a long list, then you direct their attention to the “Con” list, with “Okay, we see how many wonderful things could result from your purchase of this. So now let’s look at what the downside might be.” At this point, you shut up. You are not going to help them with the drawbacks. So usually, they can only come up with a couple of standard problems like time or money. When they are clearly struggling to come up with more, you just smile and say, “Well, we have a very long list of fabulous outcomes that are possible if you buy this, and not many drawbacks, so it looks like it makes the most sense to go for it!”

This is often the turning point in the sales conversion. Yes, it might sound a little manipulative, and it is. You’re using human nature to help you get the result you want. This is why you have to make sure you’re dealing with dolphins. A dolphin is not going to convince you to buy something if they don’t truly believe it is in your best interests and that you really will get the benefits that you’ve listed on the “Pro” side of the equation. A shark will say and do anything to get you to buy because it’s best for them and they don’t care whether you will benefit or not. But people need help making decisions that take them outside their comfort zone, and if you don’t know the psychology behind sales techniques, you won’t be able to guide them to the best decision. You need to understand people’s fear of the unknown and their fear of losing money and balance that against their hope of a brighter future. If you leave people alone to figure it out for themselves, you’re not helping them as much as you might have.

Prosperity is a habit. You have to practice it every day.

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Chellie Campbell is a Financial Stress Reduction® Coach and the author of The Wealthy Spirit, Zero to Zillionaire, and From Worry to Wealthy. She is one of Marci Shimoff's “Happy 100” in her NYT bestseller Happy for No Reason and contributed stories to Jack Canfield’s books You’ve Got to Read This Book! and Life Lessons from Chicken Soup for the Soul. Past president of the LA Chapter NAWBO, she was "Most Inspirational Speaker" by Women in Management and "Speaker of the Year" by the Association of Women Entrepreneurs. She does daily inspirational videos in The Wealthy Spirit Group on Facebook.

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