You’re Too Expensive! Yeah,…What’s Your Point?

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Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

You’re Too Expensive!  Yeah,…What’s Your Point?

by Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

Does price really impact how we view a product?  Can price influence what we think of a product?  The answer is surprisingly, yes!

Researchers at Stanford and the California Institute of Technology asked volunteers to taste five different wines with the following price labels: $90, $45, $35, $10 and $5.  The results?

But wait, that was only the setup.  The real ‘aha’ moment came when the volunteers were told that the $90 wine was also the same as the $10 wine ($90 = $10).  And that that the $45 wine bottle was the same as the $5 dollar wine bottle ($45 = $5).  Yet, the wine tasters never noticed it.

Without fail each of the wine tasters found the more expensive bottles to be the best wines.  In fact, brain scans confirm that when recipients try an expensive wine, part of the pleasure centers in their brains light up.  When they try less expensive wine, and they’re aware of it, their brain registers less pleasure.

In other words, the expectation based solely on the price, influences how the brain ‘chooses’ to perceive how good (or bad) the wine tastes.  Price influences opinions.  Price does matter!  The cognitive heuristic: expensive equals good holds true.

A Sales Epiphany

What can we learn from this study?   How can we use it to help us sell or market our products?  Well, if a client believes that they are buying a high-end item, they will enjoy the experience that much more.  So instead of ‘hiding’ the fact that your product is more expensive, maybe you should make sure the client knows it IS expensive…for a reason!  But more often than not, the sales conversation goes like this:

Client: I hear your product is very expensive.

Salesperson 1:  Well, uh,..that depends on what you’re comparing it to.  Sometimes they’re not comparing apples-to-apples.  I can assure you our product is very good.

Sound familiar?  Sounds a bit weak don’t you think?

Knowing that price impacts perception, instead of making excuses for why your product (service) is more expensive or trying to justify why you’re a higher priced vendor, maybe, just maybe you should defend the quality of what you provide.  What if you, the salesperson, decided to not make excuses for your product and decided to focus in on selling the value?  How would your attitude be different?  Imagine the following conversation taking place:

Client: I hear your product is very expensive.

Salesperson 2:  People who don’t value quality will always say it’s expensive.  But connoisseurs or experts in the field who understand the value of a quality product will tell you that it’s very reasonable.  It’s not the cost of the product but the total cost of ownership and enjoyment over the lifetime of the product that matters.  Wouldn’t you agree?

Who would you take more seriously, salesperson number 1 or 2?  The first salesperson sounds defensive while the second one sounds unapologetic and confident of what they’re selling.

Too often salespeople use the excuse (sales crutch), “Well if we weren’t so expensive I could probably sell more.” Well maybe being expensive (assuming great quality) like a bottle of wine is an advantage and not the disadvantage most salespeople whine (pun intended) about.

This study also gives us a tip for the next time we have guests over our house for dinner.  First, buy cheap wine and tell them it’s expensive imported wine.  You’ll be doing your pocketbook a favor and you’ll ensure a pleasurable outcome for your guest if they think they’re drinking expensive wine.

Lastly, for personal and selfish reasons, don’t ever buy your own wine.  In the future have someone else go out and buy the wine and tell them NOT to tell you how much they paid for it.  You’ll enjoy the bottle that much more.

Next time someone tells you, “You’re too expensive.”  Instead of trying to convince them you’re not, tell them, “Yeah, what’s your point.”  I’m kidding of course!

Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

Finding the Why in (How People) Buy

Copyright © 2010 by Victor Antonio.   All rights reserved.  Author, speaker and sales trainer Victor Antonio has a BSEE, MBA and over 20 years of executive sales experience. This post MAY be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, as long as the author’s name, website and email address are included as part of the article’s body.  All inquiries, including information on electronic licensing, should be directed to Victor Antonio at info@victorantonio.com.

Time & Money Influence: How to Double Your Lemonade Sales

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Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

How to Double Your Lemonade Sales

By Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

(author’s note: I wrote this article late last year and thought it was worth posting on this blog)

I’d like you to read the following two phrases and mentally note how each one makes you feel.

  • Spend Time
  • Waste Money

It won’t shock either of us to know that we’ll have a positive association with the first (spend time) and some angst about the latter (waste money).  You may be thinking, “Well, any time you use the word ‘waste’ of course I’m going to have a negative reaction.”  Okay, let’s test that theory out.  Tell me what you think of the following statements:

  • Would you rather ‘waste’ time with your family or ‘spend’ money with your family?

If you’re like most, you chose to ‘waste time with your family’.  Whoa!  Now it seems that spend has a negative connotation.  What happened here?  Why did the word ‘waste’ all of a sudden become more positive then ‘spend’?  The answer it seems has nothing to do with ‘waste or spend’ but it has everything to do with the words ‘time and money’.  How we choose to use either of these words will dictate a person’s attitude toward a product.

Lemonade Sold Here
Let me give you a concrete example.  Two Stanford professors decided to do a study on how time versus money affects our attitude towards a product.  In one of their studies they setup two young boys (C & D) with a lemonade stand.  They created the following sign to attract attention, “Spend a little Time and enjoy C&D’s lemonade”.

As an incentive, the buyers were allowed to determine what price, from $1 to $3, they were willing to pay for a tasty glass of lemonade.  The studied monitored the number of buyers, recorded the average price paid and lastly, they asked buyer to rate, on a scale of 1 (low) to 7 (high), their satisfaction with the lemonade.

After the study was completed, the researchers decided to swap the word ‘time’ for ‘money’ and study the same parameters above.  The sign read, “Spend a little Money and enjoy C&D’s lemonade”.  Same rules on pricing applied and a survey was conducted after the purchase.

So in both studies, the researchers recorded the:

  • Number of Buyers: How many people stopped by to buy a glass of lemonade
  • Average Price Paid: The average price buyers were willing to pay, and
  • Satisfaction: How satisfied they were with the lemonade on a scale of 1-7

Time Sign                    Money Sign
Percent of Buyers          14%                             7%

Average Price:              $2.50                           $1.38

Satisfaction (1-7)            6.71                             5.74

The results above confirm that mentioning ‘time’ activates a favorable shift in product attitude, decision to consume and increases the focus on the product experience.  Using ‘money’ on the other hand seems to activate the focus on product possession or ownership.  In the researchers own words:

“Our basic premise is that activating the construct of time (vs. money) tends to encourage personal connection with products…”

Impact on Marketing
More people stopped by to buy lemonade when ‘time’ (versus money) was used which tells us people are more attracted to the concept of spending time rather than spending money.  Activating the time effect focused the consumption experience on joy of drinking lemonade.  Interesting enough that folks who stopped by with the ‘time’ sign rated the product higher which reinforces the fact that ‘spending time’ implies a relationship where ‘spending money’ implies a cold exchange of cash for lemonade.

Simply using or mentioning time (as opposed to money) created more traffic, higher willingness to pay and greater customer satisfaction.

Impact on Selling
How can we use this new knowledge in selling?  The study shows that mentioning money has a negative connotation while mentioning time has a positive ‘communal’ connotation.  In a sales situation, one way of using this knowledge would be during the “investigative stage” of the sales process (i.e., when asking questions and uncovering needs).   Here’s how you can use it.  When asking the client about their current supplier, I suggest ‘loading’ the questions with “Money-based” (negative) attributes:

  • Mr. Prospect, how much money would you say you’ve spent replacing those worn out widgets?
  • Mr. Prospect, how much money would you say you’ve lost in the last year by not using X ?
  • Mr. Prospect, when you look at the Total Cost of Ownership, how much money do you think you could’ve save if you had chosen brand B?

When you want your product to shine, ask ‘Time-based’ questions that puts your product in a positive light.  For example:

  • How much time do you think you would save if you had a widget that did X?
  • Our products require little maintenance which means that you minimize downtime.
  • As the economy tightens we have to do more with less, so being able to do more in less time is what we do best.

My oversimplification of this study comes down to this; when you talk about taking the time you’re talking about community and when you mention money, things become more impersonal (i.e., an exchange, a transaction).  Time has more of a familial feel where the money sounds obtuse and impersonal.

What does this mean for you?  Go back and take a look at your own marketing materials or sales process and ask yourself, “Knowing what I know now, where can I incorporate the aspect of time into my promotional materials or sales pitch in order to activate that sense of community?  And remember, selling ain’t hard, when you know how!

Victor Antonio, Sales Influence
‘Finding the Why in Buy”

Copyright © 2009 by Victor Antonio.   All rights reserved.  Author, speaker and sales trainer Victor Antonio has a BSEE, MBA and over 20 years of executive sales experience. This post MAY be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, as long as the author’s name, website and email address are included as part of the article’s body.  All inquiries, including information on electronic licensing, should be directed to Victor Antonio at info@victorantonio.com.

Here’s What You Can Do With $5

Here’s What You Can Do With $5

By Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

(I read a great article in Psychology Today (Nov/Dec 2009) which I thought was worth sharing.  The article references studies done by Tina Seelig, author of “”What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20” and “Creativity Rulz”.)

A group of students were challenged to earn money in one weekend with a measly $5.  On the following Monday the students were required to do a three minute presentation on their results.

Group 1:  One group of students took advantage of what they knew about their environment (i.e., college town).  They knew certain restaurants were highly patronized so it was hard to get a reservation.  So they decided to make reservations for time slots that were high in demand at key hot spots.  Once the reservations were made, the students would then go to the restaurants at the corresponding times and sell their reservations to patrons who were wa iting in line to get in.

This is isn’t illegal although one could question the moral component of fair play for those who couldn’t afford to buy a reservation and pay for a meal at the expensive restaurant.  Nonetheless, moral dilemma aside, the students raise $200.  Not bad!

Group 2:  Another group was even more clever in their approach to earning money.  Knowing that companies like to get their name and brand in front of their target market (i.e., young college adults), they figured they’d solicit companies who catered to the college demographic.   They then offered these companies an opportunity to bid on having the students do a three minutes presentation about their company in front of the class.   The students would prepare and present the company’s message.  The winning bid?  $650.

As I read this, two often cited quotes came immediately to mind that encapsulates the hidden lessons embedded in these two experiments:

1) “The opportunity to make money are all around you, all you have to do is see them.”

2) “It’s not what you do with what you don’t have, it’s what you do with what you DO have that matters.”

No truer words were ever spoken in the realm of creativity, innovation and opportunity.

Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

Copyright © 2010 by Victor Antonio.   All rights reserved.  Author, speaker and sales trainer Victor Antonio has a BSEE, MBA and over 20 years of executive sales experience.  This post MAY be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, as long as the author’s name, website and email address are included as part of the article’s body.  All inquiries, including information on electronic licensing, should be directed to Victor Antonio at info@victorantonio.com.

(Business) Book Review: STEP UP by Daniel Grissom

Book Review: STEP UP

By Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

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Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

This weekend I read a book titled, “Step Up – How to Win More and Lose Less in Business” by Daniel Grissom.  The book focuses in on one thing, performance.  It analyzes, through facts, metaphors and real world examples, why some people outperform others and why some companies operate at a higher level of efficiency.  The book challenges us to ask questions to uncover why some folks remain ordinary while others achieve extraordinary results.

Grissom’s book is a manifesto for performance.   What I admire most is the courage the author shows in its indictment of procrastination and self-doubt as the perpetrators of many failed careers and/or failed companies.  He doesn’t back down from pointing the finger at ourselves for our own inability to achieve desired results.

Grissom’s model for stepping up your personal results is em bedded in the acronym, STEP UP, which stands for: Standards, Talents, Evaluation, Preparation and Unleash Potential.  Here’s a summary:

Standards – In the book Grissom challenges you to raise your standards if you want to raise your standard of living; personally and financially.  In whatever role you play in corporate America (e.g., sales, manager, employee, etc.) you need to improve on what you’re doing.  Complacency is not acceptable and will not increase your performance.  The book provides plenty of stories and examples to make the case that in order to grow we have to demand more of ourselves.  He quotes Earl Schoff, “Your results are directly related to your philosophy not the economy”

Talents- People have to develop a skill set, talent based on doing something they enjoy doing.  If you’re unhappy with what you’re doing the chances are you’re not going to be a top performer.   Understand and self-assess your hidden talents and focus in on what you’re passionate about.  From a company standpoint Grissom makes the case that you need to hire the right people for the right job (i.e., a good fit).  Which leads into his next step.

Evaluation – The cornerstone of this step in the STEP UP process is that you have to know where you are.  Much like pointing to a map on wall, knowing your location (situation) will allow you to make the necessary plans to get to where you want to be.  The best way of doing this is by first being truthful and objective about your current situation.  Asking yourself tough questions is the key here and Grissom helps you out with a key list of self-evaluation questions.   In this section he quotes his late mother Dr. Pauline Grissom to whom he dedicates the book, “Average is being at the top of the bottom.”

Preparation: This section is reminiscent of Sun Tzu’s Art of War.   Grissom challenges the reader to come up with a tangible and measurable battle plan for achieving your desired outcome.   He challenges the reader not to simply set goals, but to set demanding and exacting goals beyond their present scope of what they think possible.

Unleash Potential:  The philosopher Aristotle wrote, “To know and not do is the same as not knowing.”  In this section Grissom talks about the mental toughness required to take action in order to reach your personal or financial goals.  He points to three reason why many people don’t take action: Fear, Lack of Structure and, (very insightful in my opinion,) Not mentally wired for action.    People who are afraid to take action fail to do so because they don’t want to measure by their actions.  People who lack structure and lack focus will lack the initiative to take action.  Lastly, when people prefer thinking over doing then nothing ever happens.  What Grissom drives home is that inaction is the killer of achievement in all respects…nobody could argue with that!

Grissom closes out the book by emphasizing how important continuous improvement is in maintaining a high-level of performance of individuals through coaching.  Towards the end of the book Grissom uses a Gaussian Distribution Curve to divide up performance within an organization as follows: 20% lagging tail (Move Talent- low performers), 60% center (Average Talent) and the leading tail 20% (Top Talent).  He emphasizes the benefits of investing in coaching but then highlights something quite insightful.  He encourages companies not to invest coaching in the bottom 20% (Move Talent) but instead in the top third of the 60% of average talent essentially shifting upwards another 20% into the leading tail of performance (i.e., move more Average Talent into the Top Talent increasing it from 20% to 40%).  Whether you agree with this approach or not, it merits strong consideration especially in a tight economy or if you’re in a hyper-competitive environment and the utilization of resources and training is critical.

The book is a great read for managers not only in sales, but every aspect of management in a corporation.  Again, the book is a manifesto aimed at enhancing individual performance and as a consequence a company’s performance as well.  Let me humbly suggest you STEP UP and get your copy today!

Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

“Finding the Why in (How People) Buy”

Copyright © 2010 by Victor Antonio.   All rights reserved.  Author, speaker and sales trainer Victor Antonio has a BSEE, MBA and over 20 years of executive sales experience and has shared the stage with top national speakers like Zig Ziglar, Dr. Robert Schuller, Rudy Giuliani and other top business experts.  This post MAY be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, as long as the author’s name, website and email address are included as part of the article’s body.  All inquiries, including information on electronic licensing, should be directed to Victor Antonio at info@victorantonio.com

(Sales Article): For Sales Managers – How to Diagnose Fear of Cold Calling

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Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

For Sales Managers – How to Diagnose Fear of Cold Calling

By Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

Possible Cause #1: Doesn’t really believe in what they’re selling.

Solution: As a manager you need to have your salespeople use the product or service and become familiar with all the positive attributes and effects.  Only by being a ‘user’ can they really understand the benefits of the product or service, which in turn will allow them to sell with confidence.  If they truly believe in their product’s ability to help others, then they’re not selling, but sharing and helping others see the benefits and advantages they’re enjoying by using the product.   If it’s not possible to purchase the product or service (e.g., too expensive, not for personal use, etc.), find those who are using it with great success and use those testimonials to show others how the prospect can benefit.

Possible Cause #2: Takes rejection over the phone personally.

Solution: A salesperson who identifies too much with the product will always take rejection over the phone personally.  Remind your salesperson that they are not the product.  So when a prospect rejects the overture or sales call it should be clear that they are rejecting the product not the individual salesperson trying to deliver the message.  Too often salespeople take th ings personally when on the other end of the line (or other side of the desk) is a client who is very clear about what he is saying no to; the product or service not the salesperson.  Salespeople obsess and ruminate about rejection long after they’ve been rejected.  Remind them that the prospect stops thinking about them no sooner than they hang-up the phone or leave their office.  When the salesperson gets a ‘no’ on the phone they should take the word ‘No’ to mean onto the Next One or Next Opportunity.

Possible Cause #3: Feel like you’re interrupting or bothering people when you call

Solution: The underlying cause of this symptom stems from a salesperson inability to intrinsically believe in the value of the product they’re selling.  Any salesperson who truly believes their product can help others will have no inhibition about picking up the phone to sell (ie., help) others.  If the salesperson doesn’t believe in the value of what they’re selling, there will always be a nagging doubt when it comes to calling up first time prospects. In their mind’s eye they see the prospect picking up the phone on the other end and rolling their eyes when they find out it’s another sales call.  The salesperson has either a low opinion of the product or of the profession of sales itself.  Many salespeople see themselves as ‘dinner interrupting‘ telemarketers.  This self-image is why they feel like they’re bothering when they call.  The key to overcoming this mental block is to have the salesperson imagine for a moment that the prospect they just called was at that very moment trying to figure out a way to solve a problem the salesperson has a solution to.  Ask your salespeople this question to get them to reframe how they view cold calling, “If you knew that every person you called could use or better needed your product, would you still feel as though you’re bothering them?”  The answer is an obvious.

Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

Copyright © 2010 by Victor Antonio.   All rights reserved.  Author, speaker and sales trainer Victor Antonio has a BSEE, MBA and over 20 years of executive sales experience.  This post MAY be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, as long as the author’s name, website and email address are included as part of the article’s body.  All inquiries, including information on electronic licensing, should be directed to Victor Antonio at info@victorantonio.com.

(Business) Book Review: The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

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Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

Book Review: The E-Myth Revisited

By Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

For more than a few years now people have recommended that I read the E-Myth by Michael Gerber.   Based on title, I thought the book was another over-hyped manifesto on how to make a million dollars on the Internet in 24 hours or less.   Reading the first few pages I quickly learned that the ‘E’ in E-Myth doesn’t stand for E-commerce but for Entrepreneur.  The book was originally written in 1980.  The book I read was “The E-Myth Revisited” published in 1995.

The first 70 plus pages are the preamble leading up to what Gerber defines as “The Turn-Key Revolution”; the heart of this new way of thinking.  Gerber’s model for this new revolution is Ray Kroc’s franchise model for the restaurant chain McDonalds.   Citing statistics from the U.S. Commerce Department he draws an inversely proportional correlation between small business start-ups and franchise companies.  Almo st 80 percent of all new businesses fail within the first 5 years compared to 75 percent of all franchise companies that survive during that same time period.   Using a proven system,  Gerber argues that this new business model, “…provides the franchisee with an entire system of doing business.

In a nutshell, Gerber’s book is about how to apply the philosophy behind what’s made the most successful franchises successful to one’s own business.  Gerber brings to mind a movie I saw many years ago called ‘Multiplicity‘ featuring Michael Keaton.  In the movie the overworked Keaton decides to take advantage of a new cloning breakthrough that allowed him to create ‘multiples’ of himself to do his job and chores so he could have time to relax and enjoy life.  To some extent Gerber is suggesting the same but with more ‘predictable’ success, less the unforeseen and unintended consequences Keaton failed to consider.

Gerber constantly reminds the reader that you shouldn’t work ‘in’ your business but rather ‘on’ your business.  The entrepreneur must see himself as something that stands apart from the actually daily grind of running a business with the end purpose of creating a model that can be duplicated and repeated model that anyone should be able to run, regardless of their level of experience.

Gerber lays out the tenets for a successful franchise model:

1.     The model will provide consistent value to your customers, employees, suppliers, and lenders beyond what they expect.

2.     The model will be operated by people with the lowest possible level of skill.

3.     The model will stand out as a place of impeccable order.

4.     All work in the model will be documented in Operations Manuals.

5.     The model will provide a uniformly predictable service to the customer.

6.     The model will utilize a uniform color, dress and facilities code.

Now let me take a step back and make one point absolutely clear; the E-Myth is not just for future franchise owners.  The book provides an interesting point of view in how to setup a business based on client-centric consistency using proven methodologies.  He also allows for change by admitting that everything, even a well planned out business model, like a franchise, still requires to some degree, a ‘kaizen’ (i.e., continuous improvement) mindset.

For anyone interested in starting a business I highly recommend this book.  Again, it’s not about building a franchise, but about a paradigm shift for how you should view your business before you decide to build it.   Even if you’re a business owner already, this book offers an objective, self-removed analysis that will allow you to rethink how you spend your time and efforts in running the business.  Gerber’s goal is to get you to think about how you can build (or run) a business that requires minimal intervention allowing you to enjoy more of your business.

Victor Antonio, Sales Influence

“Finding the Why in (How People) Buy”

Copyright © 2010 by Victor Antonio.   All rights reserved.  Author, speaker and sales trainer Victor Antonio has a BSEE, MBA and over 20 years of executive sales experience and has shared the stage with top national speakers like Zig Ziglar, Dr. Robert Schuller, Rudy Giuliani and other top business experts.  This post MAY be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, as long as the author’s name, website and email address are included as part of