Commentary by Tom Columbia

Why Profits Disintegrate
00:00 / 11:14

Three decades ago, my sales mentor taught me that upholding a products value versus price, is what determines the level of respect that unites the buyer and seller.  At first my response was if there is no negotiating, many buyers will just go to the competitors.  With affirmation, and familiarity on this topic he replied, when you discover the buyers perceived need, they will enthusiastically accept the resolution, this is being the finest negotiator, and everyone wins.

Giving away your profits is not negotiating, it is called discounting, a well-defined impulsive drop in the price, solely at the buyers demand as the only option available to acquire their business.  The marketed price, even if it is on-sale, is valid and should be supported by advertisement and is available to every buyer.  Submitting to lowering the price implies that you consider your product to be overpriced. Understanding a products worth is priceless and a buyer’s objection to the price is only a question, it requires you to defend its value. 


Unfavorable pushback on how a scissor performs, or other common yet formidable objections, are usually preventable. When any negative viewpoint arises time and again, directed toward a product, or even if it concerns you, it will need to be proactively addressed during your presentation.  These concerns can be as simple as a new handle design, a unique tension system, or complex issues like credibility.  Not everyone knows you or your product, being prepared for everything builds your trustworthiness.

In Negotiation

The worn-out industry norm of habitually opening a display case and having buyers randomly select a scissor may result in a sale, but the first question is usually, “how much is this one”. Considering how frequently this question is asked and then compared with the unwarranted discounting, it is evident that the buyer is more adept at lowering the price than the seller is in defending their products value.


Those of you that do sell on lowest price; how often has this strategy been challenged as not being sufficient.  Be frank with yourself because it will never be adequate.  Those seeking the bare bones price are never satisfied, in their mind you had more to give.  This is mutually destructive so long as both parties continue to place price over value, creating a relationship that is easily fractured by any competitor with a lower price. 

Do not despair, you are not entombed with this lowest price curse, just realign your presentation as I propose, and you will see that the buyer responds appropriately when you acknowledge your products value.


Do not concede to the question about price until both parties agree on the products purpose, instead the goal is to ask an open-ended question that will provide new information.  Such as, “I am really interested in your thoughts for settling on that particular scissor?” “Settling on,” opens the possibility that there are other options.”  By winning back the conversation you can now engage in an open-ended fact-finding dialogue.  This is not being evasive of the price; it is opening the opportunity to research the buyer’s rationale for making that selection. Miscalculating the significance of this moment during a sales presentation is what defines a mutual winning experience, or not.

Graveyard Crow

Wanting what is best for the buyer entails stepping away from the charade of the show and tell approach, as it distracts the buying process away from what the buyer unknowingly expects from you.  It is imperative that you initiate the conversations course of action, as the buyer will naturally fall back on previous behaviors that were formed from experiences that centered on the infamous price presentation.  The alignment of who follows and who leads the discussion changes multiple times as new information evolves. This should be a relaxed conversation as both the buyer and the seller are attempting to identify the requirements of the new scissor. Essentially what you need to know is available when you secure the benefit of evaluating the buyer’s scissors, and equally significant is observing how it is used.  Most likes, beliefs, perceptions, and uncertainties can be discussed openly without placing an obligation on anything other than the customers’ needs.


Generally, stylist will be forth coming and comfortable when discussing what they think about their own scissors, willingly describing the features that they are happy with and what changes they can envision.  This boosts their willingness to examine a new scissor that offers the features and benefits that were just portrayed by them.  For the purpose of future reference lets label this portion of the buying process as “Identifying A Need.”


Identifying a need requires listening and then advising the buyer on what to expect from a product visually or physically.  This allows them time to absorb new information about the benefits of any feature that may be unique.  If this is accomplished prior to the stylist using the product, acknowledging the difference could switch from, “I am not sure I like this, it is nothing like my other scissor”, to “Oh you are right! This is amazing, and I like how you explained the difference”.

When placing scissors in their hands with the characteristics that were just mutually discussed, that have a purpose, there will be fewer objections of any nature.  Explaining even subtle differences between the new and the original scissor will be greatly appreciated, even if it is not requested.  It will give them the opportunity to compare what is already known to be genuine and then evaluate the new information that is being shared. Follow this process with each new scissor that is shown, in addition to explaining the differences to the original scissor, also briefly compare it to any previous ones that are still being considered.  Sharing details about features and their benefits confirms or denies each other’s mutual perception of the products purpose.  This essential step of the buying process is characterized as “Exploring The Solution.


Why is any of this Identifying and Exploring necessary?


First, trusting the customers familiarity of their scissors is vital and it is equally essential to confirm that knowledge with curious questions, and then observing how the scissors are held.  This verifies how the conversation should proceed, which is to say, as new information emerges it forms the follow-up response.  Uncovering helpful insight to the buyer’s beliefs will build naturally with this process.

By confirming a mutual awareness, it allows headway during the presentation. Whenever misinformation is revealed it requires due diligence to remedy any contradictions.  Any belief (concept), even your own, can be fully formed, partly formed, or entirely misinformed. A successful conversation will struggle to move forward unless there is an equal understanding of a formed belief.


Let us discuss an example that would require some additional assessment.  A stylist claims their current scissors will not keep sharpness for more than a few weeks and is willing to purchase new ones, today.  You quickly examine the scissors edge, yes, it is dull. However, the previous service appears professionally adequate and they are of a good quality.


Dismissing the cause of the dullness to a poor sharpening, or a defective scissor might get you the sale, but the buyer will not be satisfied for long. The new scissor is going to quickly get dull, as did all their previous ones.  Whether or not you are comfortable with discussing this circumstance, this buyer’s belief is not fully formed about their obligations regarding the scissors function, it is necessary to intervene.  The reality should be that the buyer is accepting responsibility for the scissor’s performance, and they are not.  So, they will be erroneously attributing any future premature dullness to your services, and even doubt the new scissors quality. 


The buyer justifiably considers their scissor, and the sharpening are the cause of their frustration, nonetheless having them buy a new one is only one dimension of the resolution.  Their conclusion (belief) is only partially formed and has intuitively revealed their need and the suitable solution.  With little exception most stylist have experienced only a few scissors, their conclusions on what is correct can be skewed, based on a lack of information, or misrepresentation.  If the previous scissors were not suitable for a variety of reasons, not exploring this news could be a disaster, not only with completing the sale, but being able to resolve any service issues.


Resolving obvious concerns when they are first discovered will not only be well received, but it will also position you as an authority on how scissors function.  To preserve your credibility, it is imperative that you initiate a review of their awareness of Basic Career Disciplines with soft inquiries.  These principles are the constructs of why you service scissors and is also part of every haircutter’s basic education, they are intertwined.  It is merely what both of you know concerning how a scissor functions mechanically, it does not involve cutting technique.  No one is more qualified than you to discuss the correct tension setting, proper edge care, and how upper hand control affects the outcome of every haircut. 


Basic Career Disciplines are the mandatory standards to follow when discussing scissors, as these individuals will be evaluating your services and product.  It is essential to recognize the stylist that do, and the ones that do not entirely accept industry guidelines for using scissors appropriately.  All of this is a portion of Exploring the Solution, using it effectively will position you as a preferred vendor and gaining you the greatest referral business.  Specifics on my established and workable method to discuss these disciplines is available in my previous articles in this publication, and at SellingScissors.Com, an educational site for salespeople, stylist, educators, and dealers.

Selecting the Solution is the closing of the sale.  It completes the natural buying process, and the buyer has been positive about the scissors features and benefits.  You have addressed each of the buyers needs with a solution and are now getting incremental commitments on size, feel, balance, and the scissors purpose.  There is casual talk describing the ways they would use the scissor and how important its place is in their tool collection.  Finally, price is a constructive part of the conversation, and examining payment options is not only comfortable, but the customer is about to say, "thank you for making this process so easy".  They may possibly even say, “you taught them things about their scissors that they did not know before today.”  Congratulations, the sale is closed.


All my articles on selling are interconnected with a single theme based on the customers natural buying process, using examples as I have experienced them in scissor sales for three decades.  I encourage everyone to invest in what should be your favorite book, “The New Conceptual Selling”, by Robert Miller & Stephen Heiman.  The most effective and proven method for face-to-face sales.