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.

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