The Secret for Selling Your Products at Higher Prices

Have you ever purchased something for a price that you knew was higher than you should have? Have you ever rationalized it as, not only OK, but also a really great buy? You’re not alone.This common experience offers important lessons to help you get premium prices for your own products.

I attended the auction of a 150-year-old general store in the mountains of North Central Pennsylvania. About 300 people crowded under a tent, on a blazing hot day, to get a chance to buy a part of history.And buy they did. Every piece of the store – where my family shopped for four generations – was dismantled and sold off at prices that made my head spin.

An old box – an empty, beat up shoebox not unlike one you’d find in your grandparent’s closet and just toss out – sold for $150 just for the non-descript “ad” on the lid. The store’s coffee tin created a bidder’s frenzy raising the price to $1800.

As I shook my head in disbelief, I saw it…item #432… a little black cast iron squirrel nutcracker. And I seriously just had to have it.

Immediately, “my two selves” sprang into action and began to duke it out over the price I was willing pay. You might recognize these characters: the practical, rational self (aka voice of reason) who was taking to task the irrational feel-good, and just-live-a-little self (aka the one who will get me into trouble). Their dialogue, played out in my head, went something like this:

What a cute little item to put on my coffee table… it will be a great conversation piece.

What? That’s totally ridiculous. When’s the last time you had to crack a nut, anyway?

But I’ll never get another one like it.  And it’s from the general store so it’s like owning a little piece of the place. I can tell guests the story when they crack open that nut as they gather around before Thanksgiving dinner, just like it was when I was a kid….

That thing isn’t even old. It’s a stupid mass-produced POS squirrel that you can get on eBay for $10. Thanksgiving dinner? You’re never home for Thanksgiving and you haven’t cooked a turkey in your life, never mind offered up a bowl of nuts….

Lesson 1: When it comes to the purchase process, we’re all from Venus

Buyers experience, at times, an internal debate over purchases because they’re led to act on emotion and then rationalize their behaviors. As sellers, you can tap into this by offering up a ready-made emotional value-add into your deals. Consider the work of Hallmark, brilliantly playing our heart strings to celebrate a “Hallmark day” or emotional “Hallmark moment.”  And they’ve cooked up lots of them (Grandparents day?).

Lesson 2: Story sells a product by feeding your emotional soul.

A great story can create an emotional connection and meaning for even the most mundane (and seemingly useless) product.  Need I say more than “squirrel nutcracker?” The nostalgic story offered up at the auction connected the product to the chance to own a little piece of the store, a piece of my own family legacy, and even the chance to bring both into the narrative of my own “new” holiday traditions.

I rationalized that bidding up to $65 for that silly little nutcracker (though worth significantly less) was not only acceptable, but a good thing!

Lesson 3:  Setting the Stage Matters

There was a lot happening to impact my auction bidding experience:

  • the crazy auctioneer’s voice and bizarre sounds that I could only half understand but that creates a buying frenzy;
  • the unrelenting heat;
  • the fact that there was a definitive time limit to act now or forever hold my peace.

And therein lies another real secret to getting a premium price for your products – the environment. Hosting the auction on the back doorstep of the store created a sense of nostalgia that couldn’t have been duplicated if you’d been in a typical auction house or convention center.  Watching items be removed from the store and walked off with new owners made it real: this store was disappearing right in front of your eyes. Get it now or never.

The right setting can transport you into the story… and right into an emotional purchase.

Retail merchandisers know this.  Car dealers know this. They create a scene to stir your emotions and call into action a story you just can’t resist.  And at premium price points that, acting alone, your rational selves would never permit.

By the way, my $65 bid limit was too low. I didn’t get the squirrel.

Learn more about how your story can advance your business, cause and career in my new book, Storyworks


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