As a kid growing up in Thailand & Cambodia, I admired (and learned a lot) from the street kids who’d surround my family and I in packs, waving their trinkets in our faces, hounding at us over and over again “one dollar, one dollar, one dollar”-until one of us eventually gave in just to get them to leave us alone.
I admired their confidence and perseverance to not let little things like politeness and social awkwardness stop them from getting what they wanted. Because let’s face it- over here in little ole New Zealand we can often let our fears of being too pushy get in the way of selling ourselves- even if we’re providing immense value in the process.
I read somewhere once that most people would prefer to die than do public speaking, but I reckon that if this is true, then people would also rather die than sell something. Their fears are that big.
So when I saw a bunch of street kids around 10 years old doing it, who had nothing, and probably not much education, or any of the advantages I’d had- but more confidence and skill than almost anyone I’d met here- I figured I could do it too.
When I returned to New Zealand I put their lessons to work-except instead of using their hounding technique to sell stuff- I used it to buy stuff.
I remember being 15, and in the sort of establishment that’s too ‘respectable’ to offer discounts, let alone advertise any sort of price promotion.
I saw this bag I wanted. But thought I’d play a little game and told myself I’d only buy it if I could get it for half price. I stood in the shop for about half an hour coming up with all sorts of reasons I should get a discount- from student discount, to comparisons with other items in the shop, to looking for faults. In the end I did a bit of a Hollywood and acted like a crazy person, rambling on about how I wouldn’t be popular at school without this bag, but I couldn’t get anything nice from my parents because on top of coming from a family of 11 children (not true), I was a triplet (also not true) so we don’t even get nice things on our birthday cause there’s 3 of us- and only one of us gets a birthday present every year. I could see they wanted to get rid of me as I was causing a scene. They eventually gave in at a price just slightly above the goal price I’d set (probably just to save face), and it was close enough for me to feel satisfied.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even really care about the bag. My concern was more for the challenge to see if I could do it. It’s always a bit risqué to behave in such a manner- which no doubt turned the whole situation into a thrilling rush similar to doing a sky dive.
While you may not be able to relate to being so brazen (or in my case borderline rude) in the pursuit of a discount, let’s face it- we all like getting them.
I’ve seen you. The way you’ll only shop at Briscoes if there’s a sale on (because we all know there’s one on every other week). Or the way you’ll find a computer you want, then shop around the stores to see if you can get it cheaper elsewhere.
Strip away the confrontation and social impropriety from bargain hunting by simply being able to get the same thing elsewhere, or at another time, and most of the time we will.
And if we don’t and later discover we could have gotten a better deal elsewhere, or just waited a week longer till the sales came on, we’ll usually feel ripped off.
So then why are we not as understanding when we’re on the other side of this, and it’s the customer wanting the lowest price from us?
Okay…back up the truck…
Was I just implying you fall into the same category of cheap mass-produced goods you can get virtually anywhere?!
How dare I claim this. I don’t know you. I don’t know your business. Because your situation is different right?
You have far superior service to that of your competition. Your products are higher quality, with better materials, and better ingredients, and you’re just all ‘round better people (okay, maybe not the last one. I mean, you’re great too. Okay. Sorry. Digging grave…)
But do your customers know this?
How long have they spent looking into purchasing from you?
Have they researched in-depth into your processes to know that the systems you use make for a much quicker, and painless experience?
Do they know that the construction techniques you use to create your products perform 10% better than average over what your competitors are using?
Have they put together a thorough cross analysis of your products vs all the alternatives out there to determine what’s really the best choice?
Do they even care to spend the time to do this?
No, of course not.
Customers do what customers do. And often that’s making decisions based on what they may already think they know about a product, and maybe skimming a few other sources such as asking a friend what they think, or asking Google what she thinks. They’re not experts on your products or your industry. They don’t think about it the way you do. They don’t know how to evaluate what the differences are. And quite frankly I wouldn’t expect them to be.
And if you are noticing they’re hunting around for the best price- chances are they may not be able to see that you’re better. Or at least not in any ways that matter.
And in other instances, you may not care if something is better- you may just simply need something that does its job.
For instance, I have a few supermarket plastic bags lying around my bedroom to throw away bits of paper, bags of chips, and maccas wrappers.
I don’t care to buy bags that aren’t going to rip if glass is put into it, or fancy bags that look fashionable with my bedroom decor. I just need to throw some rubbish away.
So if you put in the effort to make your business the best you can make it, but that still is not enough to bring in the amount of business you’d like (and at a price that’s worthwhile) what do you do?
Stop selling things that can be compared, are seen as similar to, and put in the same category as cheaper things out there.
Stop pushing hard to continuously be a smidgen better, or a smidgen cheaper.
Instead use your skills, capabilities, and knowledge of your industry to find a place in the market where you can win. A place where your former competitors aren’t.
You must be what they aren’t in ways that customers care about. So much so that they’ll be more than happy to pay more than your competitors- and your customers won’t even think of it as paying more because you won’t even be compared at all. You’ll be so different that comparisons won’t be possible.
So instead of making your postage and letter delivery company a bit faster on the delivery, or a bit cheaper, why not go bigger and make your delivery service way faster. Like instantaneous.
Okay, email has already been invented.
Or what about being the only ice-cream in the local chillers made from using real fruit- instead of trying to perfect the best synthetic flavour.
Or work out how to make an umbrella that stands up in strong wind- instead of finding the best fabrics.
Whatever you do, just make sure you create an offering that customers will gladly pay more for.
Because when you do this, you may even find your former cheapskate customers aren’t as cheap as you thought they were after all.