Selling the Invisible Value – How to Sell Services
There is a popular video clip from Penn and Teller’s Showtime hidden camera show, where restaurant clients are told that the fancy restaurant they are dining at has become the world’s first boutique vendor of bottled water. The waiter comes up to each table to present the finest kinds of water which is said to be shipped from streams and mountains from all over the world. Some of the water bottles were mentioned to cost up to $8 per bottle. Water tasters unhesitatingly point out at different taste benefits of the water samples they try against normal bottled water. The main joke of the video is that all the water actually came from the garden hose out back.
Even though it is a fun video, it delivers a very important message: People are willing to pay more for a product if they think it gives them a truly special or significant value.
In fact, price is not the main driver for people’s purchase decision. Surely it is important, but apart from it, there are a number of other aspects that heavily impact customer’s purchase decision.
Customers pay for experience, not just the product
Have you ever wondered why some restaurants are overcrowded with clients even though the menu item prices are highly overrated? It happens because customers pay a premium price not only for the product, but for the wonderful environment and atmosphere that the place creates. It is not a big deal to cook delicious food, but a combination of culinary expertise with great, personalized service makes a client feel special and will always keep him coming back.
Experience is intangible and it is not easy to define it. It is the sum of material parts, but the outcome is more of a feeling and emotion. What have you done and what more can you do to create a better experience for your customers? Well-defined answer to this question will definitely make your product/service stand out on the market among competitors.
The price influences the perceived quality
There was a study conducted by Dr Antonio Rangel and his colleagues at California Institute of Technology which found that if people are told that wine they are drinking is expensive they perceive it as tasting better. Twenty participants of the study were asked to taste 5 wine samples that were identified by the prices at a range from $5 to $90 per bottle. While the participants were evaluating the wines, their brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging. The study revealed that not only the participants consistently reported that they liked the taste of the $90 bottle much better than the $5 one, but also that the parts of the brain associated with pleasure were stimulated more by the wines thought to be higher priced. Participants had different reactions depending on the wine price but they were not aware that it was the same wine all along.
Marketing studies of such kind continue showing us how brands may change people’s attitudes towards their experiences by changing their beliefs about the experience. Perceived quality is not equivalent to objective quality. In fact, the higher the price the higher the perceived quality is.
We think through our eyes
Up to 90 % of the information that is transmitted into our brain is visual. What we see has a deep effect on what we do, what we feel and what we are. Companies that are able to communicate a certain meaning through the appearance of a product design can create a competitive advantage in the market and increase the product’s chance of success. In fact, consumers rate packaging as having more impact on their purchase decision than TV ads, online reviews and even recommendations from friends. Do not ignore the extent to which we are affected by visual perception as it can be too risky for your business’ success and prosperity.
The importance of relationship selling
According to the Customer Experience Report by RightNow, the first reason customers will abandon the brand is due to poor quality and rude customer service.
In another study researchers tested to which extent giving out mints to the restaurant clients could’ve increased waiters’ tips. The findings were fascinating. The waiters who gave mints along with the check without mentioning them increased their tips by 3% against the control group. The waiters that brought the check along with a few mints and a short time afterwards came back with another set of mints mentioning about them in a friendly manner to the client increased their tips by 23%. In fact, it wasn’t really the mints that increased the tips; it was the personalized service that made the client feel special.
Not only what you deliver matters, but also how you deliver it. Make your customers feel that you care about them and they will always come back for repeat purchase.
Watch the following video from Christine Clifford Selling The Invisible: Four Keys To Selling Services. It’s real worth watching.