Commentary

Do You Sell Inventory -- Or Do You Validate Its Purchase?

I have been putting off buying new eyeglasses for years now. I wear them in the office, never outside of it. I am vain that way, which makes it impossible to read menus. So I always order the special or the salmon -- and I am so sick of salmon. So today, a very sunny and very cold Saturday here in New York City, I decided to venture outside and buy new eyeglasses I would wear all the time.

I did no preemptive searching online. I just showered, dressed warmly, grabbed my wallet and headed out the door intent on making a relatively expensive purchase. I live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, which means the Upper West Side feels as far away as London. The reality, of course, is that a trans-Central Park trip costs nine bucks by cab -- and today I decided to head west in my search for eyewear.

The cab dropped me at 81st and Columbus for no reason other than I was ready to start walking again. I headed north with a growing appetite for lunch and my new eyeglass prescription, which I had picked up a few days prior, tucked inside my coat pocket. Looking for a restaurant at this point, I found a boutique eyeglass store on the first block of my walk. The emotional commitment to make this purchase overtook my urge to eat, which surprised me. So I peered through the front door and was directed to hit a buzzer in order to enter. My wallet sighed.

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I was the only customer in the store. I placed my scarf and coat on a bench by the window and asked the salesperson for help. She was a large woman dressed well, in purple, and she greeted me warmly. Eighteen minutes later I grabbed my scarf, put on my coat, and walked out carrying a great feeling about a decision to purchase an item for $1,329. My wallet threw up.

Does any buyer ever get sold? We think we sell our media inventory, but we would rarely admit to being "sold" when we are doing the buying. This example I shared can be an eye-opener, if I can convince you that the process of buying my glasses and what online publishers sell is relatively the same.

The intent to purchase has to be in place (consciously or subconsciously) for any product to get sold, so let's focus on how this salesperson made me feel good about the exorbitant amount I paid for what I bought.

Buzzed in.

From the moment I had to request permission to enter, the store felt special. From the décor to how the salesperson spoke of her product, there was a prevailing sense of pride and an overwhelming sense of privilege just being inside.

Are there any packages of inventory you have created that give your salespeople a sense of pride and your advertisers a relative sense of privilege?

Hooked on upgrades.

I tried on the most expensive rendition of the model I chose to buy because that's what I was handed. So when we sat down to go over the line item treatments and associated prices, I was already hooked on all of them.

How do you showcase the "top shelf" packages you create for your advertisers to consider, and can they visualize themselves in them before they decide to buy?

Moved on price.

When we arrived at the anti-glare line item, I asked to stop. There were two options; one for $89, the other for $179. I asked, "Can you give me the more expensive treatment at the lower price? I need to feel better about all of this." She did. We think buyers need movement on price to save money -- when, in fact, they need it to feel good about spending money.

Are there any line items built into your premium packages you are willing to eat if asked, in order for buyers to stomach a larger commitment than they had intended to make?

Moved me on benefits.

Did you know that glasses made in Germany are made finer than those in the United States? German engineering still carries a premium tune. Even after I handed over my credit card, the salesperson was still singing about the exquisite care that takes place in producing my glasses while providing assurances I would be happy when I returned to pick them up. She reminded me they were scratch-free, so I should feel free to wear them playing tennis (a pastime I had mentioned earlier).

After your clients buy from you, what do you do to make them feel good about what they purchased -- besides sending a revised insertion order and a date for lunch to celebrate your sale?

Instead of selling your inventory like most reps out there, try validating a buyer's purchase decision throughout the entire sales process, and see where that gets you.

10 comments about "Do You Sell Inventory -- Or Do You Validate Its Purchase? ".
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  1. Kelly Samardak from Shortstack Photography, January 8, 2009 at 12:41 p.m.

    Ari! this was a great read. Your story telling is so easy to digest and then you hop into the business without making it boring.

  2. Hugh Simpson from WOW! Presentation, January 8, 2009 at 1:04 p.m.

    Just out of curiosity as a consumer TV reporter have you heard of America's Best? I had the eye exam and got TWO pair of designer glasses for under $120!

  3. Jo Guerra from Your Marketing Gal, January 8, 2009 at 1:38 p.m.

    It's so good to read this. We absolutely buy when we feel good and if a company makes us feel better about our decision, that's a huge plus. It's good to hear this from a consumer's point of view - oh and I like your narrative style.

    I have always developed relationships with my repeat customers to make sure they feel good. It's easy to do that when you enjoy people but good to be reminded.

    Jo Guerra
    Aurora, CO
    www.JoJewelry.com

  4. Beate Borstelmann from emediaSF, January 8, 2009 at 1:43 p.m.

    Excellent article - great analogies, good read!

  5. Ari Rosenberg from Performance Pricing Holdings, LLC, January 9, 2009 at 10:39 a.m.

    Thanks for spending time with my column and for the thoughtful the responses.

    Joseph, your analogy to the warm shower is excellent. I am not a fan of the ad networks (at all) -- nothing personal and Joseph's point is eloquently true -- so as publishers, we can just wave the white flag or we can take our sales efforts up TEN levels so clients and buyers feel the value we offer.

    Ari

  6. Cat Wagman from Working Words, Inc., January 9, 2009 at 11:18 a.m.

    Ari, your column's a keeper ... and an excellent reminder that when you "own" and believe your product (or service) it is so much easier for others to "buy" in. The human "touch" reaches through when your "voice" is clearly heard and, in turn, when you hear what your client wants and shares with you, verbally and non-verbally, during the interaction. Building relationships on a foundation satisfied customers, empowered staff, and appreciated vendors, builds your business! Thanks, again, Ari!

  7. Wendy Hidenrick from AwesomenessTV, January 9, 2009 at 1:34 p.m.

    Another great article Ari! Such a spot-on analogy.

    And I would think that this very same approach will work while looking and interviewing for jobs. With so many media people out of work, they could implement this process when 'closing the sale' as well. A Sales Manager wants to feel GOOD about a new hire, right?

  8. Jeff Pugel from Essex Digital Platform, January 9, 2009 at 2:59 p.m.

    $1300 for a set of glasses!?!?!?!

    My guess is that it was for the frame only with the lenses extra.

    More than my wallet would be throwing up if I ever did something irresponsible like that.

  9. Kory Kredit from Connection Point Interactive, January 9, 2009 at 4:02 p.m.

    Ari,

    I can't wait to see you in your $1300 glasses...they had better be spec-tacular for that price.

    Great article. I think this approach even applies to ad networks and how we sell the ad inventory we represent.

  10. Gerard Mclean from Rivershark, Inc., January 9, 2009 at 6:09 p.m.

    This one line:

    We think buyers need movement on price to save money -- when, in fact, they need it to feel good about spending money.

    Made reading this article worthwhile for me. Something I knew, but often forget in the bargaining process. It will be in large print in my journal.

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