How to Sell: Value over Price


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As prices rise and customers become vocal about the difference between what they thought something would cost versus what you offer, it is important to sell value over price.

When I was a college senior majoring in conducting, my final project was to perform a conducting recital. It was a culmination of my 4+ year journey from almost flunking out to mastering creating music.

My choral conducting mentor had suggested I conduct Faure’s Pavane for Six Flutes but that didn’t make the cut for me.

Even then I wanted to make a big spectacle. I would conduct several movements from Bernstein’s Mass, several smaller choral pieces, and start with the Overture to King Stephen.

All told I had about 40 musicians to work with. It took a lot of asking, pleading, and even paying to get people to commit to rehearsals and the performance.

Right before I began rehearsal, I met with the professor of instrumental conducting to review my scores. I handed him the Beethoven.

He thumbed his fingers to the climax, read down the page, and without looking up to me simply asked, “How many fiddles do you have?”

I proudly said, “A dozen,” in that cocky way when you’re 20 and everything is bright.

“You’ll need 18,” he said as he picked up the Bernstein. “You’ll never hear the melody.”

“But wait,” I said. “It took me a lot to get those players and I don’t have the money to pay another six instrumentalists.”

He dismissed me and said, “Good luck.”

In rehearsals, all went well. I heard the melody just fine. What a jerk, I remember thinking.

The night of the performance arrived, and with a full house and the orchestra playing full out, neither I nor anyone else could hear that melody. The professor had been right!

Having told myself I knew what I was doing, and being a frugal person, I didn’t trust the advice of the more experienced person. That moment affected the way I have purchased goods and services ever since.

My instrumental conducting professor could have been the hero in my story. Yes, he could have done a better job of helping me understand the problem but if I had just listened to his wisdom, I would have been fine.

In short, you get what you pay for.

Because of that, I don’t buy the cheapest hotel room, the cheapest airfare, or bargain apparel.

Most consumers don’t realize the risk goes up as the price goes down.

Why you don’t sell price but value

You typically give up a direct connection for a low price on airline tickets.

But as a seasoned traveler, I can tell you every time you touch down, the risk goes up for a delay.

You typically give up durability for a low price on apparel.

Everything looks good at first. But cheaper materials fall apart, stretch out, and lose their colors quickly.

A cheap hotel room a client had booked for me had bullet holes in the outside cinderblock walls. I pushed the desk across the door at night as I didn’t trust the lock.

How can you sell value over price?

Selling in a retail store is about being brilliant on the basics. One of the basics is understanding every product or service has many facts about what it is – a rake for example and made of – titanium steel. The key is turning those into what benefits the one customer in front of you. For example, “This rake is made with titanium so lifting those large piles of fall leaves will be easier on your back.”

While features and benefits are the most common things companies train, if the employee doesn’t realize using a cheaper material causes the fabric to shrink, or the budget room at the resort looks out into a drilling rig, or the cheaper watch doesn’t have Bluetooth, they’ll sell it as if it didn’t.

Make sense?

Associates have to compare and contrast the item that does everything the shopper is looking for and more. The shopper never thought to examine the cheaper suede shirt which has a rough seam in the collar which could chafe. A quick run of the shopper’s finger across the better seam results in a smile of recognition – you made them smarter shoppers to look at details.

That’s the key - getting those lightbulb moments that elevate the customer to learn from your experience. Never assume they see what you see.

The cost vs. the price

How many times do you let employees sell your cheapest items like they are the best without acknowledging the risk involved in the customer not getting what they want?

How many of your employees know how to share the wisdom they have learned about buying something that didn’t live up to expectations?

And even if they have the wisdom, like my conducting teacher, can your employees educate the customer on what they will be giving up with fewer features?

If so, it will be music to everyone’s ears.

What story do you have about finding the perfect merchandise at a bargain deal and living to regret the purchase?

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