Zig Ziglar was a traveling salesman in the 1940s. He did door-to-door sales for decades, eventually becoming a popular sales coach and public speaker. He recounted this tale in his book, “Ziglar on Selling”.
Ziglar was in a family’s living room–the studio for his art–pitching cookware. The family desperately needed cookware; there were many of them, and mama spent much of the day over a hot stove, reusing the same pot. Ziglar spent two hours trying to convince them that new cookware would save mama a lot of time cooking and even more time cleaning. But the family–mama included–kept repeating, “no money, too expensive, can’t afford it.”
As he was packing his samples into his suitcase, mama spied a catalogue for fine china in Ziglar’s bag. She asked if he sold fine china, and he said, “Yes ma’am, we sell the finest china in the world!”
She and the family made a huge order for fine china–one of Ziglar’s biggest sales–in the middle of a depression. I’ll let Zig take it from here:
“Less than thirty minutes later, I left that household with an order worth substantially more than the entire set of cookware. Now think with me. If she couldn’t afford the set of cookware she so desperately needed, how could she afford the china she didn’t need? The answer is, she couldn’t afford a set of cookware she didn’t want, but she could afford a set of fine china she did want.
Here is the key point: People buy what they want when they want it more than the money it costs.”
We are not rational beings, but emotional ones.
We don’t weigh purchase decisions logically (“I can cut my $4 daily coffee budget and be able to afford $120 per month at the gym.”) Instead, we approach every purchase decision from an emotional perspective first. Then we rationalize that decision.
In the coffee example, I’d prefer to have both the coffee AND the gym membership. But if forced to choose one, I’d take the coffee, because I love coffee. And then I’d rationalize my choice by saying, “The coffee will make me more productive. So I’ll go to work, earn a raise, and then be able to afford a gym membership.”
Is that logical? No. See: “We are not rational beings…”
After we find what we want, we rationalize the purchase. We can talk ourselves into believing anything.
When you realize that people buy what they WANT–not what they NEED–you start to gain insight into marketing.
People don’t want to get beaten up by tough workouts every day. But they DO want visible abs, and to feel like an athlete. They want to be the only guy in the office who can do a bar muscle-up, because they’re also the only guy who can’t turn in their receipts on time. And they rationalize that decision by telling themselves stories about “functional fitness” and “longevity”.
This is why No-Sweat Intros are far more effective than movement screens at intake: the former focuses on “What makes you more comfortable?” instead of “Here’s what you need to fix yourself.”
People are attracted to nutrition challenges because they want others to be jealous of their abs, not because they need to avoid sugar.
Want > Need. It’s how our brains are wired. Good coaches seek deeper understanding of their clients’ psychology and learn to leverage it. They DON’T post social media rants that highlight their lack of understanding.
For example, “For the cost of one coffee every day, you could afford a gym membership that will save your LIFE! Wake up, people!”
Or, “People say they can’t afford a gym membership but then they get the new iPhone…I just don’t know sometimes!”
These distance you from your audience, instead of demonstrating that you understand what they want.
Let’s say that I want a new truck (I ALWAYS want a new truck) but my insurance broker is trying to sell me more life insurance. He posts on his FB page:
“I can’t believe people would buy bigger trucks when that same monthly payment would earn you 3x as much when you retire!”
First, I’d think, “That guy just doesn’t get me.”
Then I’d start justifying the truck purchase: “I need to haul my kids’ hockey equipment around, and my old truck can’t hold all my tools, and we’ll probably need a bigger trailer soon…”
And then I’d buy the truck.
Another example: I don’t understand why some gym owners have 12 rowers and no business coaching. Luckily I DO understand that it’s easy to buy rowers, and hard to ask for help (because I’ve certainly been there.) So I wait until they want to change.
The duality of human thought is fascinating. We’re always balancing “What I want” against “what I need.” And as we move up the hierarchy of self-actualization, “Want” trumps “need” more and more.
We sell a premium service. That means our audience is likely to buy new iPhones and get Starbucks every day. But if they can’t afford those AND a gym membership, they’ll probably prioritize what they want over what they need. The Apple Watch is the “fine china” of our generation.