Friday, September 13, 2013

I've Been Slimed

We all remember that scene in Ghostbusters where Bill Murray's character comes in contact with a ghost in a hotel. A nasty little creature that leaves his character covered in icky goo.

I had that feeling last week. 

It started out harmless. A photo shoot for our church for the new directory. The photographer was good. Put the family into great poses and took some amazing shots. Then the sales pitch began.

Don't get me wrong. I knew there would be a sales pitch. I just didn't know it would be this greasy. It even started with a grease board. Rather than give us a sheet of options, packages and prices, the photographer started right in on the hard sell - the large framed photo with the retouching, UV-protected paper, matted design. He had a grease board where he wrote down what we thought we might like.

When we asked for a price, he kept stating he would figure that at the end. We couldn't get to the end fast enough as he kept pushing product after product on us. 

We finally got to the end and he started to do his magic. He took another grease board and started making check marks and writing things we couldn't see. Finally, he presented us a price starting with what we "might have paid" had we done a photo shoot somewhere else. There was a total price with little explanation. We had to keep digging to find out what each item was actually going to cost us. (Remember my Value Equation? Perceived Worth versus Actual Price)

Only after much digging did he show us the calculations on his grease board. The problem was that it was designed to make sense to him and not to us. All we were really left to do was divide the total price by the number of pictures we were getting and decide if we wanted to pay that much.

All in all, it left me feeling slimier than his grease board and not too thrilled with the company. I wouldn't ever want to hire them or recommend them to anyone else. The pictures were great! The experience was horribly uncomfortable.

Here are three things they could have done differently that would have changed the experience for me completely.

First, be upfront about the sales pitch. Before I even scheduled my photo shoot, there should have been something telling me that this was an opportunity to get more than just a church directory photo. Even though I had gone through this before and knew there was that opportunity, it still needed to be spelled out in advance.

Second, be upfront and transparent about the pricing. Tell me the price of everything, especially when I ask. Heck, tell me the pricing before I even show up. Then I can plan for it, budget for it, and not be sitting there getting anxious about how much this might cost. Yeah, I know he is supposed to sell me. But remember that part of the transaction is earning the trust for another transaction.

Third, be honest. Don't start your talk about costs with some mythical figure about how much it might have costed elsewhere. I don't care about that. All I care about is if the price you are charging me is worth the value you are giving me. Most customers are savvy enough to know that the dining room set that is marked Original Price $16,500, Your Price $2499 was never worth $16,500. The only signal you are sending me is that you think I'm gullible. Not the best way to earn my trust.

Be upfront and transparent and honest. You'll get the sale and the recommendation.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS The obvious question is, would I have bought more or less had I known the pricing up front? I'm not sure. The only thing I know is that I probably will buy less the next time - if there even is a next time. And therein lies the problem.

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