The year was 1999, Tokyo … I was sitting at the head of an island of 10 desks in an open plan office of 40+ people … I was like a captain of a ship.
One of my big sponsorship deal was with a major publication which gave us free advertisements … and sometimes we had “call ins …” which were people that saw the advertisement in the magazine or newspaper –and they called the office to “register” on board …or get information.
Its a Friday after lunch — we were having a big week … and my phone rings and a Japanese man asks me in Japanese …
“I am interested in having more information on your M&A conference taking place”
Although I was the Sales Director — I never took “free deals” I always passed them to the manager of the team that was selling the product ….I did not care about a free commission and I saw it as a bonus for each manager.
For every “call in” the code was always the same …”line 3 M&A close…”
So I yell to the sales manager of the team, the best sales manager in the office, Ken Imaya — “ken, line 4 close…” Then I passed the phone call to him and stood and walked behind him to listen to the call ….the conversation was in Japanese but went something like this …
Ken: “yes — M&A conference … taking place at the Park Hotel ….yes…..$1,595” a short pause and then Ken replies “…….ok….I understand ….good bye…” and he hung up the phone …(the conversation lasted 15 seconds)
The whole office had now stopped what they were doing and was watching the situation …
I looked at Ken and asked … “what in the F……… was that????” Ken replied with a silly grin on his face, “he said it was too expensive….”
So I got everyone’s undivided attention, 40 sales people, plus 10 producers and marketing people …. and I jumped on the desk in the middle of the room and took off my shoe …and asked…
“This shoe cost $700 …do you want it….?” and I handed the shoe towards a little Japanese girl whom was one of the best sales executives in the office …she shook her head nervously to give me a quick NO.”
Then I repeated looking at Ken …”this shoe costs $700 …do you want it???” I looked around the office …. dead silence … and I shouted …”of course you don’t want a 700 dollar shoe …who in the F…… wants a 700 dollar shoe????”
Then I turned it around, as if magically transforming the shoe into something else, and I asked something like this….
“This is a one of a kind, hand made with finest leathers, Gucci loafer that has been ergonomically designed to fit your foot like a glove … the leather is from the most exclusive leather maker in the world based in a small city in the middle of Italy … hand stitched to the best quality of a hard leather sole … in fact, the sole of the shoe is actually lighter than a normal shoe, thus you exert less energy when you walk … so you can actually walk more, thus work more throughout the day ….
But most importantly …it is made by Gucci …. and girls love Gucci ….so this exclusive shoe is going to help you work longer as well as meet beautiful women ….”
“The shoe is ONLY 700 US dollars … but unfortunately, because its so exclusive, only 300 were hand made and they have all sold out …I will have to put you on hold to see if I can find you a pair …. and I apologise, but I can only sell you one pair ….”(put person on hold to look if any is available)
“Good news, we have four pairs available … although I told you that I could only sell you one pair — what I am going to do is get you two pair, I shouldn’t do it, but this way you have one for the winter as well … its so exclusive … I am very happy for you … whats your fax number to send you the booking form? Welcome on board.”
My point was obvious …
No one buys anything on “price,” Of course no one wants to spend 1,595 dollars to attend a conference …
But if the person understands the benefit of what they are going to “receive” for “investing” 1,595 euros … and that the person is lucky to have the “opportunity”…. it is no longer expensive ….
Make sure you fully understand the true benefit of whatever you are selling… and always sell benefit.