Commentary by Tom Columbia
Who Buys A 1000-Dollar Scissor?
If you are sharpening 1000-dollar scissors, that is wonderful if they were purchased from you. If not, why are your service clients buying from a competitor. Your customers are telling you that they have the resolve to be more proficient and the desire to develop their creativity beyond the perception of their peers. They are seeking out the best performing scissor that they can afford, and the reality is evident. The 1000-dollar price tag is a consumer benchmark that speaks volumes for the escalating demand for better performing scissors.
Price can be misinterpreted as the starting point to create a sale. In actuality it is the landing pad that establishes the bond between the buyer and the seller. This kinship can be focused on mere monetary value or it can be directed to discovering a solution, because the products problem-solving value should surpass the money invested.
Prior to revealing the traits of today’s scissors buyer, let us try to agree on some observations that are outwardly undeniable, as this validates my position on the subject. Some scissors are manufactured better, an immeasurable number of stylists desire these quality scissors, while only a limited number of dealers are recognizing the buyer’s eagerness to purchase them.
Ok, hopefully there is agreement on these obvious points. Each scissor brand champions that it is the best in every way, this of course is expected, but certainly not accurate. If all these claims were to be true, all scissors would be identical and sell for one price, with every sale revolving around who gives the biggest discount. In fact, this could be where the industry is right now.
Except for a few major players a majority of the scissors are indistinguishable, defined by only a few cosmetic upgrades cloaking their similarities. The most entertaining assertions of superiority become the deal of the month, with everyone knowing that this miraculous product will soon be offered with a huge price cut.
This revolving routine keeps our industry in a holding pattern, satisfying only the manufacturers, confusing the consumer, diminishing perceived value, and forces deceptive pricing that erodes profitability.
For decades when I was actively selling, I frequently responded to some pricing objections with this statement that was well accepted by the stylist.
“My pricing is competitive to all similar scissors, and that was predetermined by its manufactured performance level.”
However, this statement got a unique response from at least one industry spokesperson recently that misled its intended meaning. So, let me clarify.
The closed end portion of my statement “Competitive to all similar scissors” is the qualifier. Scissors made of similar material, parts, refinement, and with an equal ability to perform should have a price tag that reflects those similarities. Simply put, all $300 scissors will not necessarily look alike, but the manufactured performance level (quality) ought to be comparable. A three-hundred-dollar scissor priced at $600 would easily be recognizable as overpriced, if not on the day of the sale, it will inevitably be detected. Reputations rise and fall on credibility.
What confuses the consumer about price relationship to performance is the deliberate and inconsistent overpricing of a poorly made product with an attempt to instill the illusion of being better. Coupled with the unwarranted underpricing of quality products, while they struggle to compete with overrated brands. This indiscriminate price fluctuation is devastating to any scissor’s brands credibility and business growth.
Anyone within the supply chain that panic sells in order to get a sale decimates the products value, and the entire brand is affected. This type of breakdown in perceived value spreads like a virus, as this practice alerts consumers that our industry lacks a consistent business strategy and uses misleading practices.
“Manufactured performance level” is the open-ended portion of my statement and it encompasses every level of scissor, good or bad. This makes sense if you are of the same belief as I am, and it is that all scissors are not equal in their ability to perform. Putting even an expertly refined edge on scissors rated as good, better, and best does not make them equal in their abilities. Sharpness in itself is one aspect of performance and does not determine the quality of the scissor. Everything that was done, or not done, at the manufacturer is the predetermined refinement for the scissors ability to deliver the sharpness. This does not denigrate the importance of an expertly sharpened scissor of any quality level, as this is the primary purpose of the sharpening industry.
Does anybody within this business believe that these different levels of manufactured performance do not exist?
Assertions that any lower quality scissor is equivalent to a pricier competitor could be accurate, as long as it is true, and you can defend these assertions with facts. However, this has become a worn-out story, once you travel this path of proclaiming your product is just as good, but cheaper, shuts out the possibility of adding a pricier product to your presentation.
What are the traits of the companies that make $1000 scissors, the distinguishing techniques of the salespeople that sell them, and finally the insights of the haircutter’s that will purchase them?
There are links that connect the best scissors to stylist that seek them out. Manufacturers try to find dealers that share parallel principles regarding the scissors industry, and these dealers are connected to the stylist of the same mind set. They realize that a percentage of stylist are looking for an advantage through education that prepares them to participate at a higher level of excellence. They pursue reputable training that requires an investment of hundreds of dollars for even a single class, and extended programs involve intense training that require the investment of thousands of dollars. This level of commitment is easily recognized in their professional attitude, creative intensity, and a serious devotion to Basic Career Disciplines.
It is easy to infer that these individual stylists understand that adjusting the tension setting on their scissors eliminates thumb pressure, provides perfect upper hand control, and allows the blade to slice effortlessly through the hair with precision. Leading stylist are respected by their colleagues for their excellent talents and creativity. Placing anything other than a quality scissor in the hands of anyone in this elite group would require more than a good storyline, as this type of buyer is knowledgeable.
Basic Career Disciplines is the mandatory knowledge that is the starting point for a meaningful discussion about scissors. It is essential to recognize the stylist that do, and the ones that do not entirely acknowledge Basic Career Disciplines. Salespeople with an appreciation for these disciplines are guaranteeing that all their customers will have a more successful experience with their scissors.
Confirming each other’s insight about a scissors function develops the mutual respect necessary that places you in the status of a preferred vendor. (See my previous articles on “What Is A Scissors Educator” for these details.)
Every dealer should have inventory that would encompass product at the good, better, and best levels. This will assure that your customer base will purchase from you no matter their current skill level and the higher quality scissors will be available as their abilities improved. The belief that a quality scissor purchase is restricted only to one’s income is too narrow. It should be approached with a wider perspective that a woken stylist on their own will recognize the limitation of using inadequate scissors. The never-ending goal of producing a more precise haircut is very motivating.
The best scissor brands will require a minimum opening order and have set standards for reorders as well. These requirements show commitment on your part and that makes the Master Dealer comfortable with your seriousness. This affords them the time and effort to offer the assistance in inventory control, product training, and this is the vital attention needed to become successful with their brand.
The most progressive scissor brands will support promotions that maintain profitability and eliminate the need to offer sporadic discounts to be competitive. Long term business relationships work when both parties can be equally profitable. Companies reinvesting in their most committed dealers by offering growth building support is a common practice in all industries.
Countless scissor brands are easy to obtain, have no required purchasing standards and they seek dealers of a similar mindset. When there is a low threshold to obtain a product brand, every competitor will inventory them, and this encourages underpricing. The reputation becomes only as good as the weakest dealer within the brands distribution network.
Inventory products that you genuinely believe in, that have a history of being reliable, and are priced appropriately for its intended buyer. Nothing makes a salesperson more comfortable than to present products that attract minimal price resistance when they are matched with a qualified buyer.
I recommend “The New Conceptual Selling”, by Robert Miller & Stephen Heiman. The most effective and proven method for face-to-face sales. It is an easy read, has every possible sales situation and solution, and is going to be the last sales book you ever need. I first read this book 25 years ago, I still keep it close by for sales research and reference today.