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Price Objections - Know Your Potatoes

Furniture World Magazine


Ma Cooper demonstrated to the customer that the value of her product far exceeded the selling price. Objections were overcome and the sale was completed.

Photo: 1922 Maine Potato Grower's Annual Gala

Overcoming customer price objections is a daily challenge for retail sales people whether they are selling low, medium or high end home furnishings. Can we accept these objections at face value? Are customers always objecting to the cost of our products or do they have hidden concerns?

Some consumers may be testing your bottom line seeking reassurance that they are getting the lowest possible price. For others, price may be a genuine roadblock to the completion of the sale. If the latter is true, you probably have not convinced them that the cost of your products are more than balanced by the level of quality, service and support they believe you are offering them. In other words, you have not demonstrated sufficient value to support the price.

Many years ago...

while still in retail, I was told the following story. It created a lasting impression on the difference between selling price and selling value. Like old Ma Cooper from my home State of Maine, you have to know your potatoes.

The horse-drawn wagons were parked in the center of town. Both were loaded with freshly bagged potatoes. A customer stopped by the first wagon and asked, "How much are potatoes today? "

"Two fifty a bag, " the farmer 's wife replied.

"Oh, my goodness," protested the shopper, "that 's pretty high, isn't it? I paid two dollars for a bag just last week."

"Taters have gone up. Still a good price though," was the only thing the farmer 's wife had to say.

So, the housewife went on to the next wagon and asked the same question. Instead of treating her customer with indifference, Ma Cooper replied:

"These are native Maine potatoes, Madam, the best grown in all of Aroostook county. In the first place, we only raise the kind with small eyes so that there will be no waste in peeling. Then we sort them by size. In each bag you will find a large size for boiling and cutting up and another medium size for baking. The baking size cooks quicker and all are done at the same time. That means big savings on electricity or gas. Then we wash all of our potatoes clean before packing them, as you can see. You can put one of these bags on the living room floor without soiling the carpet. You don 't pay for a lot of dirt. I 'm getting three dollars a bag for them. Shall I put the bag in the car or do you want me to deliver them for you?"

Old Ma Cooper sold two bags of potatoes at a higher price than her competitor. This was accomplished in spite of the fact that the customer had refused to buy at the first wagon because she thought the price was "too high." Ma Cooper demonstrated to the customer that the value of her product far exceeded the selling price. Objections were overcome and the sale was completed.

The consumer believes in a good deal or a bargain only when convinced that the value of the product and services exceeds the cost of the product. Because we cannot change the price, we must concentrate on heightening perceived value.

According to excerpts from the Wirthlin Report, cosponsored by the Home Furnishings Council and the American Furniture Manufacturers Association, consumers respond most favorably when one demonstrates the benefits of a product' s features; quality, durability, workmanship, comfort and appearance. Good service after the sale, a guarantee of satisfaction and convenient delivery options are also important factors in establishing value.

Ma Cooper knew her customer and Ma Cooper knew her potatoes. So should you.

Russ Page is the Manager of Sales & Marketing for Moosehead Manufacturing Company in Monson, Maine. The physical resemblance of 'Ma' Cooper (above) to Mr. Page is purely coincidental. Questions can be sent to editorial@furninfo.com.