Why Buy Today Discounts Don’t Make People Buy Today, But Buy Soon Discounts Do

One-call close-helping customers to buy now

One-call close-helping customers to buy now

Is the “today only” offer effective and justifiable in creating urgency in sales?

For as long as sales has been a profession, sales people have used special “today only” offers to try to create sales urgency so that the customer will set aside the tendency to procrastinate, and make a decision to buy on the first sales call.  One could easily imagine early man offering to sell two bananas for the price of one but only if the prospect would buy those bananas today, or the inventor of the wheel throwing in the fourth with the purchase of three, but of course, today only.

While the technique is effective to some degree, it has become less so over time as it is increasingly recognized as a sales technique and not a legitimate business proposition.  And that is what it should be, a legitimate business proposition that helps a customer save money on something that they want and need by helping the salesman reduce the money and time it takes to sell it.  We know that orders placed on the first visit eliminate the cost of additional visits and save time that could be better used to meet with other prospects.  By simple economics we know that when the cost is lower the price can be lower.

While in that sense it is justifiable, the problem is that it is effective only to the degree that it is believable, and fewer and fewer people believe that the “today only” discount is actually for today only.


Because fewer and fewer sales people us it honestly.

If you use a “today only” offer in your sales presentation, and the prospect does not buy that day, would you offer the same pricing if they called you back the next day?

If you wouldn’t, then you are in the honest minority, but it is that majority of salespeople that would offer the same pricing at a later date that have taught prospects that the “today only” offer is not a legitimate business proposition, but exclusively a sales tactic of high pressure selling.

So can a “today only” offer be an effective sales technique?

Only if you can convince the client that it is legitimate, and this is difficult.

How then can professional salespeople meet the critical need of building urgency to assist a customer in coming to a decision on the first visit for the benefit of both the salesperson and the prospect, who might otherwise neglect to act in their own best interest?

There are two ways.

Start by creating urgency in a real way through you sales presentation.

Most discussions of urgency focus on something I call offer urgency; a sale, a promotion, a discount, a “today only” offer.  While effective in building urgency, all of these should be used as secondary sources of sales urgency, and only after a primary sales urgency is created.  Primary sales urgency is created by the need or want to own the product bases on how that product will benefit the customer or provide a solution to their problems.  This can range from the pure want of a luxury item, to the definite need of a efficiency solution, and includes every point in between.  The similarity in all cases is that the customer feels urgency to own the product or service based on what that product or service is, not because it is on sale.

When the primary sales urgency is established by a thorough examination of the prospects needs and wants, and a presentation that proves how your product or service satisfies those needs and wants, the customer arrives at a point where they are convinced that they should own what you are selling.

This leaves only one aspect of the decision unresolved- when they should make the decision to purchase.

This is where offer urgency comes into play, as the secondary urgency that helps a customer to decide to buy now what they have already decided to buy at some point.  The difference between using offer urgency as the secondary sales urgency rather the primary sales urgency is the difference between helping a prospect decide between buying now rather than later, and buying now rather than not buying at all.  The later is, relatively, much more difficult than the former where the distance between the two competing options are much closer, and much more likely to be positively influenced by a special offer.

Does a one-call close need a “today only” offer to create urgency?

While a “today only” offer can work if you can justify it and convince the prospect that it is credible, there is a much easier way.

Don’t make it about “today only,” which can be taken as pressure and seem less than credible, make it about buying soon instead, and leave the duration of the offer uncertain.

Here’s what I’ve discovered:

There is almost as much sales urgency created by a limited time offer as there is with a “today only” offer, and any slight edge in sales urgency created by the “today only” offer is more than made up for by the increase in credibility and lack of perceived pressure of the “buy soon” offer.

The only qualification is that the duration of the “buy soon” offer has to be sufficiently short in order to actually translate into an urgency to buy now.  It cannot be long enough that a customer could reasonably consider waiting and taking advantage of the offer at a later date.  If an offer is good through the end of the week, or for two days, a prospect is much less likely to see the possibility of delaying the decision.  After all, how could you justify that anything would change in that small period of time that would change the acceptability of the proposal?

The effectiveness of this method lies in the fact that because the offer is not for “today only” it is not perceived as pressure, even though it is essentially the same thing.  Prospects are conditioned to see anything “today only” as high pressure selling and not credible, while an offer good for a few days does not create the same negative reaction, yet produces an almost identical sales urgency.

Of course you still have to justify the “buy soon” offer, but that is much easier than it is to justify a “buy today” proposition.  Everyone is familiar with and accustomed to sales, limited time promotions, the reality of rising costs and pending price increases, and other time sensitive offers.  The “buy soon” offer is especially effective when the duration is uncertain, meaning it could go away at any time.  When presented properly, including an introduction early on in the sales conversation, the “buy soon” offer becomes as strong or stronger than a “buy now” proposition with the uncertainty of being able to get the special price at a later date doing the work of creating the sales urgency.

Creating urgency is essential to success in sales, and by incorporating these techniques into your sales presentation you will create that urgency in a credible and justifiable way leading to more sales and increased customer satisfaction in the buying process.

Fantastic Selling

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4 Responses to Why Buy Today Discounts Don’t Make People Buy Today, But Buy Soon Discounts Do
  1. Lee
    June 2, 2011 | 7:33 pm

    I have been seeing that resistance from the customer when you tell them the price is good for today only, and have been wanting to try something different. I understand the short time sale and believe it can work. I’ll be trying it soon.

    • The Sales GIANT
      June 2, 2011 | 8:58 pm


      I’m glad you found the article helpful. We all need to do things to shorten the time frame of the decision, but must avoid the techniques used to do this that cause a prospect to further resist the decision.

  2. Aeron
    May 27, 2011 | 2:43 pm

    In an industry where I’m constantly hearing the if you buy today spiel, this article is incredibly refreshing and right on target with today’s more savvy consumer. I will be sharing what I’ve read with our sales team and I look forward to reading more of the articles written by the sales giant. Thanks for the tips 🙂
    Aeron McDermott
    Business Manager

    • The Sales GIANT
      June 2, 2011 | 8:59 pm

      I agree. The buy today message has been used so often, and so often incorrectly, that it has become a cliche that very few people are influenced by. Thanks for the response.

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