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You're at Emile's. It's not just a restaurant.

It's Emile's on 545 South Second Street.

You've been dying to get to this restaurant forever. You've read all the glowing reviews. The food, they say, is "exquiseet." The wine is straight out of Wine-Spectator's award-winning wine list.

You're smacking your lips. This is the moment you've been waiting for.

And then it happens...

The waiter, in his black vested suit, brings you your house-roasted saucisson on a bed of red lentils with bacon. And it's served with caramelized onions and demiglace.

The aroma wafts through the air and snaps your brain to attention. You smile a goofy smile in anticipation of what can only be a scrumptious meal.

Except you don't eat the food

You appreciate the onions. You poke at the bacon. You admire the saucisson.

But you don't eat any of it.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? I mean, why on earth would you order such a delicious meal and not eat it? Even as you read this piece you're salivating about the meal, so why would you skip eating it when it's sitting right there, in front of you? You ordered it, didn't you? It smells delicious, doesn't it? So why the heck would someone not eat it?

The answer is not as ludicrous as it seems. You're sure to lose your appetite when you realize how you lose truckloads of dollars simply because you don't get the customer to consume what they've ordered. Read on, and you'll find exactly what you've been missing... and then fix it.

Let's skip the aperitif and go straight to the main course, shall we?

The waiter is confused

The maître d' is flabbergasted. The chef has made a rare guest appearance at the table.

The hum in the restaurant has been replaced by a deathly silence.

Why won't the customer eat?

To answer the question, let's leave the restaurant and head down the road to the tall building that houses a software company.

This software company creates an interface where businesspeople like you and I can have a shopping cart, autoresponders and more whiz-bang stuff that helps us run our e-ecommerce side of things without too much of a bother. You pay a subscription each month, and voila... you have a smorgasbord of mouthwatering applications to run your business smoothly.

The problem that this software company has isn't one of getting customers. Oh no. It keeps getting a stream of customers. Yet, for some crazy reason, the customers seem to buy the software and almost never use it.

Dang! The customers won't "eat" what's on their plate!

And if the customers won't eat...

They won't experience the power to automate their business. They will be swamped in doing the mundane, repetitive jobs that swallows up the day, the week and the year.

And because they haven't had the time to experience the wonders of the software, they simply won't renew their subscription to the shopping cart software.

'Ah don't need no darned software...'

That's the conclusion about 45% of the customers arrive at each time their subscription comes up for renewal. As a result, the software company has the tedious job of always finding more customers.

And the software company isn't alone. If you sell e-books or real books, workshops or consulting, products or services: the problem always lies beyond just getting the customer to buy.

It lies beyond the "yippee-yahooey-I've-made-a-sale."

It lies in consumption

You've got to make that customer eat your house-roasted saucisson on a bed of red lentils with bacon served with caramelized onions and demiglace.

You can't afford to have them nibble. You can't afford to have them appreciate the look of the meal. You sure can't afford to have them sit there and do nothing.

Your job is to make the customer eat!

If you're the hotshot CEO of the software company, make sure you train your customers. Create a series of seminars both online and offline that help them learn.

Demonstrate how others are using their software. Better still, show these customers a bunch of case studies—people just like them who started with nothing and have used the software to make their Caribbean cruises and martinis a reality.

Teach the customers some marketing skills if you have to. Have a monthly/yearly award ceremony with nice, fancy prizes for those customers who create most income with the software.

And it's no different if you're selling information or consulting.

It doesn't matter if you're hawking e-books on the Internet, or workshops up and down the country. It matters little if you're doing some fancy-schmancy consulting gig or selling sunglasses.

The key is to go beyond the sale. To get your customer to consume time and time and time again.

Ask Emile, if you don't believe me.

Emile knows that all who get to his restaurant in downtown San Jose must eat their meal. They must drink the finest wine. They must roll their hands over their tummies and smack their lips in satisfaction.

The customer must waddle out of the restaurant if possible.

Emile knows how crucial consumption is to the future of his 30-year-old restaurant.

A customer who has waddled out of Emile's will be 10 times more eager to come back again, because they've had a great experience.

But there's more. Customers don't just consume. They also like to talk, even brag about what they've consumed.

They want to let their friends, family and business associates know about the fabulous experience.

Now you've got referrals flowing like champagne

Consumption breeds evangelists. Yeah, it does. When you watch a movie that's great, you tell everyone! When you listen to a CD that blows your mind, you blow everyone else's mind too! And when you use the software, read a fabulous book or actually implement what you learned at a workshop or in consulting, you just can't help but tell the world.

Emile knows that you will not only spread the word but also be back for more. Sacre bleu, that's even more money in the bank for Emile!

Stop and look at your customer's plate

Is it full? Is it empty? Is it half eaten?

Get your customer to eat well. You'll know when they've had their fill.

You'll hear the sound of satisfaction. It'll be soft, yet distinct. Listen for it.


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Sean D'Souza uses age-old psychology, marrying it to modern technology, on his Web site, Can "psychological tactics" make a difference? Go there and find out.