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…?

Success and Significance

What is success?  Today’s Western culture prefers to define success in terms of fame and fortune.  People are considered successful when they earn lots of money and reach the highest levels of their chosen endeavors.  Awards, bonuses, job titles, certificates, prizes and the corner office are treasured symbols reflecting success.  Likewise, houses, cars, boats, and club memberships are the trophies of financial success.  You might recall a once-popular bumper sticker that read, “The one with the most toys wins!”

I believe success in these terms falls short of something much better.  Since it is difficult to change the current vernacular, let’s use a different word.  How about significant, which to me is the result of living an unselfish life, putting others ahead of our quest for toys and accolades.

“You can have everything in life that you want,
if you just help enough other people get what they want.”
– Zig Ziglar

Zig spent decades teaching us that there are benefits from dedicating our lives to serving others.  At the same time, fame and fortune make lousy goals.  A better target is significance.  I suggest that a better name for it is Zignificance.  I wonder how much better the world would be if more people shifted their focus away from success and toward Zignificance.

“The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance –
and then even the small steps and little victories along your path
will take on greater meaning.”
Oprah Winfrey, O Magazine, September 2002