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Use pattern interrupts to increase sales


People hate salespeople. At the very least, their defenses are raised when they detect familiar patterns. They've likely had one or more negative experiences with salespeople. So when they detect familiar patterns and decide you're in sales, the conversation may already be over.

When you do a pattern analysis for all the bad salespeople you've run into, do you sound the same as them? If so, then why are you surprised when people treat you the same way you treat those bad salespeople?

If you want to be treated differently, you have to act differently. That's what a pattern interrupt is all about!

Let's take a look at what a pattern interrupt is, a story of one being used to increase sales, some examples of pattern interrupts, then I'll share some resources.

What is a pattern interrupt?

While it may or may not be at a conscious level, we all see patterns. They're everywhere around us, including in the conversations we have on a day to day basis. And they help form the expectations we have about other people. And those that other people have about us!

A pattern interrupt is all about changing the momentum and direction of an interaction. Sometimes they happen at the beginning of an interaction, and sometimes they happen somewhere in the middle.

A pattern interrupt is about defying expectations so you can have a real conversation and see if someone needs what you're selling or not. And more real conversations means more sales!

"You probably don't need any of it."

Steve was in the financial industry. One day he sat down with a prospect he had never met before who had been laid off from his job. Steve worked through his normal needs analysis to determine what the prospect needed in terms of a layout. Then he gave a presentation of the services he offered.

After he wrapped up the presentation, the prospect didn't look engaged. "Well," the prospect started, "I'm not sure how any of that will work out for me. I'm not sure I need any of it."

To his surprise, Steve responded with, "You probably don't need any of it."

Suddenly the prospect leaned forward. "Then why did you go through all of that information?"

"Frankly," Steve responded, "all of that's simply a starting point for us. I get the impression you're pretty upset about how things are going right now. Would you like to talk about that?"

There are two great examples of pattern interrupts in there!

  1. Steve told the prospect he probably didn't need any of his services.
  2. Steve mentioned the client seemed upset and asked if he wanted to talk about it.

Think about traditional sales for a moment. In traditional sales, you tell a prospect that everything you have would be great for them. You also never mention it if the client is upset, much less ask them if they want to talk about it!

Because Steve used those pattern interrupts, the conversation changed and continued instead of ending early. The prospect opened up about the fact that he had worked for the company for thirty years and was angry about being laid off. He actually had the resources to retire, but didn't like being forced into it.

Pattern interrupt examples

The best time to think of pattern interrupts is before you need them! It helps if you think of common questions that people in your industry are asked and how you can answer them differently.

Of course, pattern interrupts can be statements as well. So also think of statements you make often that might make you look like every other salesperson in your industry.

Making a cold call? Start it off with, "Hi, this is John Smith. I want to let you know this is a cold call. Should I hang up or do you want to?"

Worried someone can't afford your solution? When they ask about price, reply with, "Let's pretend it was a million dollars. Would we still be talking?"

When someone starts a conversation by asking why they should buy from you, reply with, "I don't know if you should. We may not be a good fit for you. Can I ask you a few questions to see if we are or not?”

If someone asks what your hourly rate is, respond with, "We don't have an hourly rate. Is it okay if I explain that?”

When asked what company you're with, reply, "Do I have to be with a company?"

Of course, those may or may not fit your world. You'll need to give some thought to what your pattern interrupts should be. You'll also need to adjust them over time.


Pattern interrupts are all about saying or doing something that stands out as very different from what people expect. In fact, we've written a number of articles over the years about being different than others.

Good selling is all about good communication. And communication is driven by two things. Learn what they are in this video so you'll know how to communicate differently than others.

Our book The Contrarian Salesperson helps you learn how to sell more and sell more easily by doing the opposite of what your prospects expect without looking like a stereotypical salesperson.

You can read more and even download a free sample chapter here:

Finally, you may want us to help you or your team look different from the competition. We help our clients look different through a number of methods including a classroom environment, one-on-one coaching, and custom group training.

If any of those sound like they're worth a conversation, you can call us at (405) 844-1700 or email me at

Mike Crandall

Mike Crandall

Crandall is the Principal of Sandler in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He works with business owners and motivated individuals to create and implement Professional Development Strategies to foster the growth of individuals, teams, and organizations.