|Posted on May 26, 2011 at 1:44 AM|
I know, I know. A while back I wrote my little piece about “Thinking outside of my own wallet” and not prejudicing a potential sale just because I thought something was expensive. So, yes, I know that I’m not supposed to be thinking that just because something is too expensive for John’s wallet that it is also too expensive for some other, non-John-type wallet. (Or, maybe you’re like Mr. Cooper and you just want to spend ALL of your money, going out in a cable purchasing blaze of glory. See you in hell, job! I’ve got severance monies and I’m gettin new cables TODAY!)
What I learned from that little epiphany was the realization that in some ways I was predisposing people towards a, “Wow! You’re right…that IS a lot!” reaction because when I was telling someone the price on a high ticket item, I was always subconsciously thinking, “Man! That IS a lot of money! Like Matchbox 20 money!” Instead I should have my mental swagger on and be projecting a, “Damn right it’s expensive! What you’re buying is amazing, and you’re gonna have to pay for it. But this is going to be a system unlike any other that is going to totally improve your lifestyle and you are gonna love it *every* time you use it,” attitude.
And while my time in actual Ferrari dealerships has been pretty limited, I just can’t imagine a Ferrari salesman apologizing for the fact that his Ferraris are expensive. He wouldn’t make excuses for the high price. He wouldn’t hem-and-haw saying that the new model will run Three Large. To the contrary. He is insulted that you should even think about making a comment about the price. In fact, I imagine him standing there all slick and stylish in his tailored suit and borderline too-much cologne and manicured nails, in his sleek granite-tiled showroom, sipping a Illy cappuccino frothed to perfection, just turning his back and walking away from you if he even senses you drawing in a breath of air to balk. “Signore, this is a Ferrari. E una macchina che bella, no? Scusi. I get so excited, I forget my customers no speak'a Italian. She is beautiful, no? But, she is not cheap. And she is not for everyone. She is for those that are looking for…the experience and lifestyle which is owning the Ferrari. If you no can afford this experience, then perhaps you need to visit the Honda dealer, si? Ciao.”
So, I’ve been making an effort to not handicap my high-end sales opportunities by breaking out into a sheen of sweat and going all King’s Speech when it comes time to deliver the price. I have been, but there is this one product that took me by surprise the other day. And even though I had mentally set my phasers to stun and my sights on what I thought was a high price, it came in almost *double* what I had envisioned, and when I generated the proposal and saw the price, I felt those old, “Th-th-th-this thing is really fa-fa-fa-frickin’ expensive!” demons gnawing at the back of my mind.
So this guy comes in. And I can see that he has a way out of state license plate so I’m immediately kind of predisposed to put him on the blows-off plan. But, I’m trying to turn over a new, be less of an ass, leaf – the other side of the leaf seems to also be rife with ass-tastical qualities though; perhaps it was laying face down in a pile of lime or maybe some mad cow droppings. Instead of a two-sided leaf, I need to find a dodecahedron 12-sided D&D dice that I can keep turning new sides over with – so I approach him with as much cheer and goodwill towards man as I can muster. He’s holding some well used sheets of paper and asks if we are a Lutron dealer. We definitely are I assure him. He asks if we do their Sivoia shading line. We definitely do I double-assure him.
So he says that he just bought a condo down in Myrtle and that there is one large window in his bedroom that looks out over the ocean. He wants to be able to cover it, but easily open and close it depending on, I don’t know, sheer nothing else to do-ness, the phases of the moon or his state of nakedness. Hey, I’m not here to judge; I’m here to automate and facilitate his window treatment needs. So he asks if I’ve heard of Lutron’s new Kirbe window treatment.
Turns out I totally have. In fact I just spent an entire day with my Lutron rep, Maria Devirgiliis – yes, her last name would be the perfect Scrabble letter i tile dump for those times when you find four stupid 1-point i’s in your rack – traveling around trying to drum up some designer business. Maria brought down a mobile Sivoia demo kit that included a Kirbe vertical shade. The Kirbe is basically designed to look like drapery but it raises and lowers vertically allowing you to avoid that giant stack of material to either side of your window. So, totally cool. I know *exactly* what this guy is talking about and I am able to discuss options with some modicum of intelligence. Here, you can check out a little YouTubes of Kirbe in action with some bonus European accent thrown in for good measure.
But, turns out that a Kirbe is not all my man wants. He also wants a blackout shade to go behind the Kirbe. I guess the sheer Kirbe for those times when he want some privacy but to still spy on sunbathers and then the blackout shade for when he ready to move on to the post bikini spying session of his day. Again, I don’t ask, I don’t tell. But doubly-do no problem! Because that is exactly the demo kit that Maria D brought down! I’ve seen the double motor mounting bracket, I’ve seen the double shade controller, I’ve seen the valance he wants. Houston, we are go for launch!
So the guy hands me his dimensions and asks if I can prepare him a quote. Absotively, says positive, not-my-wallet John. I will just punch them into Lutron’s Shade Configurator Tool and we’ll have a proposal generated in no time. Since I need to look up fabrics and whatnot, I ask if I can e-mail it to him. No problem, says guy, but can I give him any idea how much I think that it will be. Now in my experience, the Lutron shading seems to run between $1500 – 2000...per window. (I know; some of you just threw up a little in your mouths. Remember we’re not talking about my wallet here. Or yours. So you can relax that clinch in your buttocks and death grip on your checkbook.) So I’m thinking with the double brackets and valance and whatsuch, I’ll aim on the high side and say probably around $4500. He’s still standing after this with none of those tell-tale eye-twitches or nosebleeds or other “I think I just had a massive stroke or aneurysm” signs, so I take that as a good sign.
So, I go in the back and plug my coordinates into Lutron’s navi-computer and wait for the result. Calculating, checking system design rules, you forgot to include the wire, blah, blah…$7939.93! Ka-POW!
Wow. Just...wow! Almost eight grand for the window coverings. On ONE window! Holy maccaraw!
Now, I think that Lutron’s shading system is super-duper, uber cool. It is uses a low-voltage drive – they SHUN the use of the word motor; motor equals noisy and these are silent, so don’t you DARE call them a motor! – that is almost totally silent as it raises shading up and down. Unlike my projection screen which makes this Cold War era, high voltage MMWAAAAAAA the entire time it is raising or lowering. Groups of shades move in sync with each other and they can all stop within like 1/16 of an inch of other shades, meaning that you can create a really cool architectural hem-bar line on a bank of windows. (I do appreciate that using the term “architectural hem-bar line” brings my sexuality into question in several southern states. However, you reading and understanding it also makes you a bit suspect...) Plus it ties into their lighting systems so you can create scenes or automate them to automatically go up and down at certain times of day – say you know you get a wicked, Raiders of the Lost Ark style beam of light every day 17 minutes before sunset. Totally cool. And I would love to have some. But even at the absolute mega generosity of Lutron – with a blanket statement that I interpreted to mean, “Ask for whatever you’d like! Just ask, it’s yours!” – I STILL feel too guilty about the price of them to ask for any. (Note to self: Ask Darryl Wilkinson how he managed to kill off the guilt center of his conscience! Darryl recently requested a shipment of goods SO extravagant that even over the phone I had to look down at my shoes while he was describing it to me. I wasn’t sure whether to be impressed, inspired or appalled by his bravado. Yet I know in my heart of hearts that Darryl would have no problem requesting, nay demanding shading for every window in his home.
And, kind of like the Kaleidescape system which inspired me to write the “thinking outside of my wallet” story in the first place, I have absolutely NO problem in getting people excited about the Lutron shading system. Window treatments are something that everyone has in their home, even if that is limited to the newspaper you taped up with every intention of replacing one day. So getting people behind the idea of automating them and the quiet drive and the synchronized hem bars and all that? Yeah, easy. The difficulty is that with these, you’re almost never talking about just one window. In my house covering the windows that I would actually want to do in my living room would be seven. Seven. At around $2000 or so each. And while people might have some budget for window treatments, it usually seems to be $2000 for ALL of them, not for each of them. If you’ll recall, that was the EXACT reaction of my “This meeting’s a Buster!"client.
But, I pressed on. And fortunately since I was relaying the pricing through e-mail, it was easy for me to go back and edit out any hidden undertones of “Dear God! That’s a lot of moola!” and just couch it in very clinical, “The custom options you’ve selected for your Ferrari will cost...” My man followed up with an additional fabric question suggesting that the initial glance at the proposal didn’t actually kill him, so maybe there’s hope for this sale yet…