Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Game of Buying and Selling

Hello my blog loving friends (both of you). As I pour out my soul in a desperate attempt to amuse, inspire and above all, improve Google page rankings, I find myself thinking about the way people shop.

‘Why Paul?’ I hear you cry. OK, to be fair I didn’t actually hear anything just then but how cool would that have been if you’d actually responded vocally? Pretty cool. No really, it would.

I actually think about the way people shop all of the time. A 25 year long career in selling stuff will tend to do that for you. I’d love to say that I’m a student of the human condition, but that’s just a pretentious way of saying that I think about people, and surely we all do that from time to time.

Most recently I had taken a large amount of my ‘no longer required items’ or to use a professional term – junk – to a car boot sale. My wife Shelly despairs at the 5am start, the hallway covered in boxes and the fact that I may well come home with barely enough money to take the whole family out for a Happy Meal, but none the less away I go.

Now what has made this particular sale interesting is one of the items that I have on my table. It’s a little USB device with a small hot plate that you use to keep your tea or coffee warm. It’s quirky and fun but because I now drink espresso, it’s kind of useless for me.

And so it sits on the table and loads of people pick it up and ask me how much I want for it. I tell them they can make me an offer, at which point they then ask me what the item actually is.

Let’s go over that again – just to make things clear. They want to know how much it is BEFORE they know what it is. To make matters more interesting, there are those who will ask for a price, attempt to negotiate and THEN ask what it is.

This is the car boot mentality; people are more interested in the game of negotiation than they are in actually acquiring the items. I guess that’s OK, but some people are just plain unreasonable. They pick up something which, when it was new cost £20. Second hand you’re happy to take a pound for it and then they STILL ask if you’ll do it for 50p.

Trouble is, if you tell them it’s £2 to start with, they won’t knock you down to what you wanted in the first place – they’ll just put it down and walk away. Once again, the discount is more valuable than the item.

It’s no different in any other marketplace – it’s the buyer that determines the price. Oh sure, the seller may set a price, but if nobody buys it, the price will start to come down until they do. The buyer is in control, but does this mean that, as a service provider, I should drop my prices every time someone tells me that they think I am too expensive? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

If I record a radio commercial for a client and they pay my regular rate, and then another client comes along and wants, lets say, a voice over for a corporate video, then my regular rates will still apply. A reasonable company will accept my rates and we’ll get on with the job. Why? Well I’d like to think they hired me because of the quality of my work, and not the figure on the invoice.

Now if client number three comes along, also wants a voice for a radio commercial and instantly tells me that I am too expensive, well that’s unfortunate, but what does it say about the value I place on myself if I start offering discounts just because people say so? Other respected companies were happy with my rates, so I know that there’s nothing wrong with them.

I don’t want you to think I’m inflexible, but you don’t get the bill at a Michelin Star restaurant and then tell the waiter that you could have picked up a burger down the road for £2.99 do you?

There are voice over artists who are just starting out – happy to take whatever work they can in order to build a portfolio. There are those who are veterans of the industry, represented by the best agents and demanding top dollar for their services.

And then there’s me. If the former is a cheeseburger and the latter Filet Mignon, then I’d like to think of myself as a good Sirloin – reliable, satisfying, and great with a good peppercorn sauce. OK, that last one was a bit weird, but good lists come in threes.

So please audition me first and talk rates second, because if you don’t feel I’ve got the voice you’re looking for, even doing it for free would not make any difference.

Blimey I fancy a steak now…probably should not have written this just before bed. Goodnight. 

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