A Lesson in Smart Buying!

“Smart Buying is less about comparing price and features
than it is about value assessment.”
– CC

You are only human. Therefore, you’ve probably made more than one impulsive, disappointing and wasteful purchase. It could be a product that broke one day after the warranty expired or a product that you didn’t need or a service that didn’t pan out, that you bought because it looked good on television.

On the extreme side, maybe you’ve made so many bad purchases that you have become gun-shy about any purchase over $20. While your fear of wasting money can protect you from making stupid purchases, it can also steer you away from smart, life-changing ones.

Every purchase has its risks, which means we are likely to face fear whenever we face buying decisions. The problem is that fear can be either the voice of conscience or a powerful excuse-maker. The key to managing fear and making effective buying decisions is to ask good questions. Here are a few assessment questions that will help you define a better context and make wiser decisions:

  1. If I buy ‘X’, what’s the WORST CASE OUTCOME?

Example: I got nothing of value and the money and time invested were totally wasted. Furthermore, I am frustrated and don’t believe any such product/service can benefit me.

  1. If I buy ‘X’, what’s the BEST CASE OUTCOME?

Example: I feel great about my purchase. All my expectations were met and then some! The value so far exceeded my original expectations that I’ve experienced transformation beyond my imagination.

  1. Somewhere between worst case and best case is the MOST LIKELY OUTCOME. Visualize it, define it, then ask yourself, “What would this MOST LIKELY OUTCOME mean to me physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, professionally and/or relationally? Then, decide how much you are willing to pay to own it.
  1. The remaining questions are about the price. For higher-priced items we typically ask ourselves, “Can I afford it?” That’s fair, but the smart buyer will also ask, “What will it cost me to NOT buy it?” and then compare the two answers before making the decision – a better decision than one that is fixated solely on “How much is it?”

I’ll close with a challenge for sellers. Please make it easier for us buyers to see the value in your products and services. Benefits are not expressed by reciting a list of features. Benefits are favored outcomes. Ask us questions like this: “What would this product/service mean to you, or your family, or your colleagues, or…?

VoIP Top 10

Significant savings and an abundance of new features are driving a mass migration toward VoIP. Tens of thousands of people per day are choosing VoIP over land lines. When they do, they get new capabilities that either were not available or cost extra with old time phone service. When I took that step, it was an eye-opening experience. Suddenly I discovered how these features enhance my communications. With VoIP, “we the people” can reduce our phone bill, get more value or both.

“VOIP services allow people to dynamically structure the way they communicate and to customize and personalize messages in a way that is impossible with traditional telephones. … Adding enhancements to voice is no longer a highly complex and expensive modification to the network – now it is just a matter of adding to the next software release.” — Michael K. Powell, former FCC Chairman

The purpose of this post is to whet your appetite for this technology by listing my favorite VoIP benefits in the tradition of a Top 10 list.

#10 International Calling — Some providers and plans include unlimited calling throughout the U.S. and Canada. My residential plan also includes Puerto Rico plus overseas locations like Europe, China, and Australia. Countries not included are just pennies per minute.

#9 Mobile Convergence — This type of phone has both cellular and VoIP capability and will automatically route a call to the customer’s best advantage: VoIP when an Internet hotspot is in range and cellular when it is not. This is a powerful emerging technology that will help me cut my cellular bill.

#8 Phone Number Choice — I kept my existing phone number. But, I could have chosen a Minneapolis, Toronto, or Portland phone number. Why? So people in any of those cities could call me like it’s a local number. In fact, I can purchase multiple “virtual numbers.”

#7 Web-based Account Management — It’s cool to use my customer Website to see the people I called and who called me. I can find out how long we talked and how often. I can change feature settings, listen to voicemail, and much more!

#6 Call Forwarding — Automatic rollover to the phone number of my choice if Internet service goes down. I also have the ability to have my inbound calls ring one or more numbers simultaneously or in sequence so I never miss a call.

#5 Calling Features — Lots of familiar calling features like Caller ID, Call Waiting and 3-way calling are included. 3-way calling is like a mini conferencing capability with practical uses for both business and pleasure. I use it a lot!

#4 Voicemail — I recommend looking for a provider that offers a feature-rich voicemail service included in their basic plan. I like the feature that sends my voice messages to my email account.


#3 Video Calling — The cost includes the video phone (mine was $199) plus the provider’s monthly service plan. Now I can both see AND hear my family, friends and colleagues. People can’t imagine how great video calling is until they experience it!

#2 Equipment — My existing phones all work with my VoIP service and the digital adapter was free.

#1 Savings — Typical residential rates are $25-40+ per month depending on the provider and the calling plan. Mine is $24.95.

There are plenty of other options and features that didn’t make my Top 10 that might be on your list. That is unless you haven’t made the VoIP migration. In which case, you probably don’t even have a Top 10.

God Bless,

— CC

© Copyright June 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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