The quarter (1/4) inch drill analogy


Leo McGivena wrote, “Last year over a million quarter-inch drills were sold—not because people wanted quarter-inch drills but because they wanted quarter-inch holes.” So, to get their interest, talk “holes”.”

– Percy Whiting, advertising writer and salesman [ 1 ]

There always been people who,

out of generosity,

wanted others to buy into the help they were able to provide.

At least,

as far as you and me can look back into History.

Into the lives of people who had a problem they wanted to see fixed.

Or an issue they looked into “how to get it solved”,

but came short of finding a solution ( for it ).

This is back when “helping hands” weren’t called “sales reps”,

at times,


When they were ( only ) known as friends,


brothers or sisters,



or good samaritans instead.

Over time,


some of these “helping hands” figured out they could make a living out of this.

Out of offering solutions-to-problems for a fee.

Not just giving them,

for free,

I mean.

Cause many people who had a problem were ready to give money…

or else…

in exchange for a pill,

that could take away their headaches.

Or in exchange for a drill,

that made it possible to install cupboards onto their kitchen walls.

But the now-sales reps didn’t “pass go and collect 200$”…

or any other amount…

every time they offered what they had on hand.

Let it be an insight,

a commodity,

or some sort of service.

To a client they met,

while going door to door.

Or to one who walked into their store.


to increase the odds of hearing a client say “Yes, I want this”,

guys like Leo McGivena worked out three (3) ways of selling a service or product.

Like a drill,

for instance.

The 1st way;

is “sell on specs,

on features”.

“Compared to others, the drill right here is cordless, it’s powered by 14.4 Li-ion rechargeable batteries. It comes with 2 speeds. With a reverse function as well. And when you need to unscrew things, it (…) .”

The 2nd way;

“sell on price,

and/or quantity”.

“This drill is only 149 $. Which is 20% less than at any other hardware stores in town. And if you buy this one, here, with an extra set of rechargeable batteries, today? We’ll even take all the taxes off the whole kit. So, what do you think?”

The 3rd way they worked out?

“Sell on the added value,

or the help,

or the benefits that provides the product or service”.

“The 1/4 inch holes you need, to screw your first cupboards to your kitchen’s walls? This drill will give you that. Every time you’ll press its trigger (switch). (…) How many cupboards did you say you have to install?”

But not all people who tried their hand at this…

at “getting clients to buy in what was offered or ‘sold’ to them”,

for a living,

back then…

learned all these tricks of the trade.

The same thing can still be said about how things are done these days.

When you read the ads on job boards,

for example.


anyone can spot the single way that most hiring managers use,

to get job seekers interested in saying “Yes, I want this”;

Only put the specs,

or the “features of an open position” forward.


If it’s a perm or temporary position.

The salary.

The schedule.

The insurance package it comes with,

if any.

And so on.


you and I, both, know from experience that,

until we’re sold on the purpose of a job…


its added value or the type of help it is set to provide…

we’ll always feel that something is missing in “the drill (job)” we bought into.

– – References – – – – – –

[ 1 ] Percy Whiting, “The Five Great Rules of Selling” (McGraw-Hill, 1947), p76

Comments are closed.