This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.
In preparing for another new presentation for Wedding MBA, in Las Vegas, I did research and a survey about emotional decision-making. The original concept for the presentation was, “Why do entrepreneurs make emotional business decisions?” The more I got into my research, the more it became clear that all decisions involve emotions on some level, they just may not appear to be the primary driver of your decisions.
Antonio Demasio is arguably the world’s leading expert on emotional decision making. His TED Talk has had over 1 million views. He’s found that people that have damage to the part of their brain that controls emotions have difficulty making even the most basic of decisions; what to wear, what to eat, etc. Therefore all decisions involve some level of emotions.
How or Why?
So what we need to be asking is “how” rather than “why” emotions affect our decisions. It’s easy to recall when strong emotions have swayed our decisions, usually in a bad way. Most decisions made when angry or upset end up having some negative implications. The ones you wish you could take back. Scientists tell us that we tend to focus on the negative consequences, rather than the positive. They seem to take root more deeply in our memories, and we use those negative memories to make current and future decisions to try to avoid those same negative consequences, again.
Emotions, Pricing and Negotiating
Since many, if not most of you reading this own, or run a small business, your personal identity and your business identity are closely connected. When someone questions your pricing, or tries to get a discount, many people react emotionally, as if it’s an attack on your value. While that’s a common reaction, it’s a little misguided. When you’re the customer, don’t you want to have both the best quality/service and the right price? You don’t want to overpay. You want to know that someone else isn’t going to come along after you and pay less, for the same services. You are entitled to ask for the best price. So are your clients.
The power of NO
If you’ve heard any of the webinars I’ve done for WeddingWire on sales or heard me present on sales at a conference, you’ve heard me speak about the power of no. It’s a very powerful word. They have the right to ask for a better price. You have the right to say no. Don’t deny them that right. They won’t know that they have your best price until you say no. When you look at the situation differently, and don’t take offense to them asking (that’s the emotional part), you can make a better, more definitive decision.
How do you say No?
Here’s how I like to say no, while showing them that I still want to work with them: “I can appreciate you asking, and I know that you want to know that you’re getting the best price, for the services you want and need. You also want to know that someone else isn’t going to pay less, for those same services. That’s why I don’t negotiate my rates. Everyone gets the same price, for the same services, because you all want, and deserve, the best quality and service.”
Negotiating vs. Discounting
In most cases I prefer a policy of discounting, but not negotiating. Discounting is when, based upon a predetermined set of products, services, or conditions, there is a discount available. For instance if someone buys your lowest package or service, there is no discount available. But if they buy more, for instance a higher package, there is a discount built in versus buying those same services individually. If people can buy more than one of your products or services, you may decide to offer a volume discount. However, anyone else buying the same things, would get the same discount.
Negotiating is like the “wild west,” with different people paying different prices, for the same services or products. The challenge is that people talk. These days they talk online, sharing their conquests and prices. Unless you’re prepared to defend giving one customer a better price than another, for the same things, negotiating is a slippery slope. It actually is empowering to remove negotiating from your business vocabulary. When you know you can’t give them a better price, you defend the value, instead of the price. You can say NO, and mean it. Say it nicely, but say it.
And if they insist…
How do you tell them no, when they keep asking? Here’s what I like to say: “If price is the most important factor when choosing your (venue, photographer, band, DJ, planner, etc.) then I’m probably not the right fit for your wedding. Couples like you don’t choose us because we’re the cheapest. Couples like you choose us because they want to trust one of the most important day in their lives, to someone who’s going to deliver everything they want, and more – someone who’s going to go above and beyond to make their wedding a success. That’s what we can and will do for you, just as we do for dozens of other couples, every year. If you read our reviews you won’t see them saying ‘I’m glad they were the cheapest,’ they’re saying, ‘Our wedding was better than we ever dreamed it would be.'”
Emotions and Reviews
It’s not hard to see how reviews can come into play with reviews. When you get a really good review, you feel great. When someone says something that’s not as favorable, you feel bad. You often take it as a personal attack, even when they aren’t mentioning you by name. I’ve done WeddingWire webinars on reviews, including how to handle and respond to negative comments, so I’m not going to rehash all of those here, but suffice it to say that you need to take a step back, consult someone who’s not emotionally connected to the situation, and then do the right thing.
Take a deep breath…
Don’t respond when you’re upset. Don’t click “Reply” until you’ve taken a step back, analyzed the situation and until you understand the consequences, current and future, of your actions. Trying to prove that you’re right, is trying to prove the customer wrong. Any time you try to prove a customer wrong, you lose. Often you need to swallow your pride and make the right, long-term decision. How would you counsel a good friend to respond if it were their business? I encourage you to listen to the webinars and read the articles in the Education Center on this subject.
Don’t fight your emotions, embrace them. You made a very emotional decision to start your business, or to get into your industry. Respect that and trust your emotions to guide you to success. Just understand that there is a right time, and platform for your decisions. Things look a lot clearer on the other side of a decision. Learn from your past decisions and you’ll learn to do the right thing.