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How to encourage your clients to get “off their arse” and to part with their money

cough syrups

Are you finding that it’s getting more difficult to get clients to take action and buy what you have to offer?


As a corporate trainer I’m finding that many clients are so consumed with other “work issues” that training is a low priority.

I understand and respect this.

Many clients have reduced training budgets.

Even those with budget seem to be “holding back”. They need further prompting to make a commitment.

This sound familiar to you?

This morning I got a powerful business lesson – from a bottle of cough medicine.

empty bottle

I’ve been annoyed by a nagging cough and this morning when I went to take some cough medicine I’d run out.

Buying cough medicine wasn’t part of my plan for the day

I didn’t want to jump in the car and take the time go to buy some more cough medicine. (I wasn’t so sick I couldn’t drive!)

The cough was just annoying – it got my action!

To get some relief from the annoying cough – I was happy to make buying come cough medicine my first priority and I was more than happy to part with the money .

Admittedly it was under 10 bucks – but the thing was I was so motivated to take the time and spend the money to get the relief for my problem.

(I am not in anyway connected with Codral!)

codral + cash

I asked myself WHY?

Why did this need for cough medicine get me “off my arse” and in my car and happy to part with my money?

What is it about a cough that makes us want to take action to fix it?

And I thought what business lessons I could learn from this.

I’m inspired by the style of one of my favourite business writers Peter Bregman who writes for many publications including the Harvard Business Review.

Peter often draws business lessons from small, everyday things like going to a buffet or a party or playing Frisbee.

Some readers will find this style too simplistic. I’m confident that others will “get it” and find style memorable – as I did with Peter’s fantastic buffet of choice comparison.

Anyway, back to the cough medicine. In sales training, a standard technique is to find your clients PAIN points. The Cough comparison is an extrapolation of the PAIN technique – and with client problems that are more annoying rather than agony!

I asked myself: What is it about a cough that gets our attention and our action?


A few things that came to mind:

  1. a cough is obvious and hard to ignore
  2. it’s annoying to you (the cough-er) and to those around you – it can be embarrassing
  3. a cough can interfere with other important things  you need to do – such as sleeping
  4. cough mixture can help you feel better relatively quickly – even if the relief is only temporary and you have to take more medicine – you know that the “solution” works

Anyway, I’m very grateful that this metaphor popped into my head and got me thinking about how I could “use” the lessons to help get my clients “off their arse” and parting with their money to solve the equivalent of the annoying coughs in their businesses.

TB and cough

(See – this really happened! It’s not just a made-up metaphor!)

I even came up with an effective memory device – to remember important questions to ask clients.

I know cough is spelled C-O-U-G-H  – yet the memory device C-O-F-F works better.

COFF memory device to prompt clients to take action



Here’s a link to a post  and a video about Peter Bregman’s buffet of choice comparison that can help you with work productivity and focus and time management.

You’ll also learn his solution – using a salad plate. It’s worth watching the attached video.


TB NASA story

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I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious  business communication tips.

I’ve disciplined my self to check ALL my different communication platforms twice a day – as part of my Check-in Ritual.


tony biancotti


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2 comments on “How to encourage your clients to get “off their arse” and to part with their money

  1. Pingback: COFF memory device to help you motivate clients to buy | efangelist

  2. efangelist
    July 18, 2014

    Reblogged this on Likeable Lawyer and commented:

    This COFF memory device can apply to lawyers too. Ask questions to prompt urgency to take action. Ask questions so you highlight the impact of a “problem” – how it’s hampering your client’s efficiency in other areas. Also emphasise the Fit of your solution.

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