Dropped Jaw Syndrome, Your Fastest, Most Reliable Market Test
Dr. Lynella Grant
Business owners should be more like doctors.
Forget selling and start asking your customers where they
hurt. Broken leg? Ulcer? Empty wallet?
Don”t sell, diagnose. And what are you as a doctor looking
for? Well, of course: that ever-illusive, yet ever-
profitable disease called Dropped Jaw Syndrome.
OK, it may not be in any medical book. But Dropped Jaw
Syndrome, however rare, is known to anyone who”s ever tried
to sell something. The customer walks into your store,
listens to your pitch and falls into an awestruck trance.
“I”ll take three of them.”
Joking aside, the dropped jaw, or at least its symptoms, are
the fuel behind every sale. When a customer is persuaded to
buy, their reaction isn”t logical. You”ve connected with the
part of their brain that decides if you and your product are
believable, the limbic system. Sure, you still need to
persuade with facts, but logic is a distant second to their
desire to buy, their reflexive dropping jaw.
Diagnosing Dropped Jaw
The key is finding the dropped jaw, tracking the symptoms
back to their source. But it”s there. And it”s quite easy to
find once you stop thinking about your product for a moment
and focus on the customer… I mean, patient.
Don”t believe me? Well, put on a white coat, hang a
stethoscope around your neck and do some market tests of
your own. But this is a test you have to do face to face.
Forget the demographic studies, sales plans and benchmark
reports, and get in front of a customer.
Now, take his temperature, make your pitch. And follow it
through the customer”s reaction.
Did his jaw drop? Hmm. You must have done something wrong.
Try again, but listen like a doctor searching for a heart
murmur. Ask a question, offer information, and then hear the
subtleties of his response. And when you”re diagnosing a
customer, instead of trying to sell your product, something
You become more attuned to the subtle dropped jaw and
related body language. And you ask more accurate questions.
You notice which of the claims and benefits penetrate the
customer”s protective indifference, sparking real interest.
Of course, most salespeople already do this to a degree, but
it must be done intentionally, consciously.
The true advantage of Dropped Jaw Syndrome comes from
changing your role for a moment, from selling and telling to
assessing what customers want, even when they can”t say it
in words. Demand that you live up to their desires. Because
if you”re not dropping jaws, you”re in danger of falling
behind the competition. Worse, you”re probably overlooking
your company”s uniqueness.
Diagnosing Your Pitch
In searching for dropped-jaw reactions, some companies have
made unbelievable claims central to their promotions. We”ve
all seen the TV commercials where “Crazy Joe” says he”s so
insane he”s practically giving away the furniture in his
Better are claims that are striking and stand out from the
competition, but don”t over-promise. Consider “Have it your
way” (Burger King) or “It takes a licking and keeps on
ticking” (Timex). In establishing your own unique
proposition, the dropped jaw test is quick and reliable.
Customers, whether they know it or not, are very good at
distinguishing between businesses they trust and those they
don”t. Let them tell you how you”re doing.
Building Customer Confidence
I discovered the Dropped Jaw Syndrome years ago. It started
with my claim that I can assess the health of a business by
looking only at its business card. And when I would point
out the subtle messages on their cards, most of them
unintended, people”s jaws would drop.
The value of the dropped jaw test is the perspective it
imparts. By listening to the customer or putting yourself in
her shoes, you”re more likely to notice the “small potatoes”
signals you”re sending. Such telltale signs aren”t based on
the business size or age. But once you recognize them they
can be easily repaired.
As you play doctor, it”s your job to notice what hurts the
customer and cure it. When you find ways to make your
customers jaws drop, you”ll take their pain away. And that
will make your own business a healthy one.
c)2004 Lynella Grant mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org