Things are going great with your new customer. She’s interested in that fabulous product you just showed her. You’re about to go into a sales pitch to get her to upgrade to a pricier model, but just as you begin, the phone rings—and you have to grab it. Drat! Sale interrupted. There goes any hope of the upgrade, right? Well, not necessarily.

New research is showing that an interruption in the sales process can actually boost the likelihood of customers choosing a higher-priced item. That’s because, according to this researcher, after an interruption in a given transaction, people exhibit less price sensitivity.

For instance, when vacationers in Florida were offered a sedan as a rental, then distracted with another task, they were more willing to upgrade to a higher-priced model when they returned to the negotiation. Why did this happen? This research says it’s because, when we’re first dealing in a spending situation, we approach it from a bottom-up, data-driven perspective (What’s this cost?). When our focus is interrupted, we return to the negotiation from a more top-down, goal-driven perspective (Let’s get this done, shall we?).

The message for marketers? Don’t worry too much about distractions on the sales floor: if they interrupt your pitch at the right time, they may help you make a bigger sale.

Source: Focusing on Desirability: The Effect of Decision Interruption and Suspension on Preferences. Liu, Wendy. Journal of Consumer Research.