It costs too much

What is a cynic? A man who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
Oscar Wilde
1854 – 1900

A few months ago, I was working with a client who wanted to improve his sales volume and net income by a substantial margin. After a few sessions with the client, it became clear that he didn’t have the knowledge to achieve his goals, so I suggested some workshops and seminars that could provide the missing information. I left him the details to review, directed him to some web sites and said we would discuss his options next time.

At our next session, I asked if he had picked a seminar to attend. Unfortunately, his answer was one I’ve heard too often. “They want over $500 for a two day workshop. Add in airfare and a hotel room and it’s nearly $1,000. It costs too much.”

I wanted to be clear about his objection, so I asked specifically which part of the cost was holding him back. He told me that he couldn’t see paying someone $500 for a two day conference. After all, he’d paid less than that for a full semester college course.

I accepted his answer, because clearly no amount of discussion would change his mind. But I want to point out what I see all too often. Here was this businessman who wanted to make more money — a lot more money. But he wasn’t willing to spend on acquiring the skills necessary to make that money. You might say he was penny wise and pound foolish: he was concentrating on saving a thousand dollars instead of making ten thousand dollars. And the knowledge, once obtained, would continue to produce results for the rest of his life, while the money saved would likely be spent on less productive activities.

In his line of business, it would have been easy for him to pick up one or two tips that could increase his profit one to two thousand dollars per transaction. Since he probably executes ten to twelve transactions per year, he could have easily paid for the seminar ten times over in the course of one year.

All too often, I find that people focus on the wrong thing; they focus on the cost and not the value. This behavior occurs in every aspect of life, not just in business.

There is one other thing I want to point out. When people are too focused on cost, they often fail to be open-minded. They’re so convinced that the program isn’t worth the cost that they refuse to see any value rather than admit that they may have been wrong.

What should you focus on? How much something costs? How much time it requires? How much you contribute compared to others? In short, are you focusing on what you put into an activity or what you get out of it?

If you focus on the cost, you will often make a poor choice. Look for and focus on value. After all, the value you get from something is the only thing that counts.

Men of ill judgment oft ignore the good that lies within their hands, til they have lost it.
c. 495 – 429 B.C.

Copyright © 2014 John Chancellor


It costs too much — 4 Comments

  1. John,

    I think the same advice can be applied when selling your services to a client. Don’t focus on cost. Instead talk about all the value you bring. The potential return on investment should be so great that choosing your service is a no-brainer.

  2. Susan,

    I totally agree. I work with clients everyday that do not realize that you must sell the value … not the features. Excellent point. Thanks.


  3. So true John, I hear this type of thing when talking to clients about our training. I like John Ruskin’s quote, which is similar to what you are saying.

    “There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price alone are that person’s lawful prey. It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better”