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What Do You Do When Customers Ask For “Garage Sale” Prices?


Article by Julie Cook

Last weekend I volunteered at a massive garage sale for my son’s high school marching band. The gymnasium was filled with table after table of the junk that would become someone else’s treasure. One parent was so anxious to clean house that she showed up with a U-Haul full of cast-offs (the organization made $1,000 from her donations alone).

A curious thing about the garage sale economy: It’s truly an underground one, often with high-ticket, high-value items walking out the door for pennies. We all know that’s the way it is, and if you try to buck the system or won’t haggle, you run the risk of sitting in a fold-up chair in your driveway at 5 pm on a Saturday afternoon staring at the same junk you’d set out so carefully that morning. At the high school sale, I saw a gold-plated silverware set that sold online at $300 going for $35, and really expensive sports gear (I know sports gear; I have 3 boys) walking out for $20. Garage sales = cast offs = pennies on the dollar.

I think business owners and sales professionals can bring a garage-sale mentality to their products and services. In a panic to make a sale (or make payroll), they move too fast to offer discounts on the spot. You’re asked to discount or match a price, as if you’re selling soybeans or some other commodity. Afterward, you’re left feeling “had.” Do you know the feeling?

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of the best-selling Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness, writes in his blog that objections to price are actually a buying signal obscured by some kind of perceived risk. Gitomer says we need to re-engage the buyer and find out why they wanted to buy in the first place. For me, that means re-visiting the original problem that sparked the motivation to consider buying in the first place.  “If I uncover the buyer’s motive,” says Gitomer, “I will make a sale regardless of price. If I engage the prospective customer in a value-based and value-driven discussion, I might be able to get them to see my perspective.”

What value do you bring to the table? What problem do you solve right here, right now for your prospects? Focus on that, and you can let the hagglers be your competitor’s problem. Remember to include phrases in your on hold script that reinforce how and why your product and services solve your target market’s problems. We can help you with this; just ask.

Here’s to your growing business!


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Founder of Easy On Hold and Brandi Music. Thinker, writer, speaker, tinkerer, husband, father, musician.

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