Selling Skills

Are you insulting your buyers without knowing…

When Nielson contacted me a few years ago to ask if I’d participate in rating TV programs, I was quite excited. I had heard about the Nielson ratings since I was a little girl and I was delighted to let them know what I watched and didn’t. I understood that it required keeping detailed notes on my viewing habits and that it was a significant time commitment.

But then I received the materials. It wasn’t the paperwork that bothered me. It was the 4 shiny quarters that fell out of the envelope, with the note that said, “To thank you for your time.” A buck for my time? This was a week’s commitment! I had agreed to note my TV viewing habits every 15 minutes for a full week and they thought one dollar was enough to thank me? I was so insulted that I threw away the materials and used the quarters at the first opportunity.

And it just happened again. J.D. Powers sent me a survey regarding the new car my husband and I just bought (which the dealer asked that I answer with all 5s.). I started the survey, but after about 5 mins, seeing that I was only a tiny way through, I opted out. So, yesterday, in the mail, I received a reminder to complete the survey, but this time, I was offered “motivation” to complete the survey. If I complete the survey, not only will I be entered in a raffle for a $40,000 prize and $10,000 gas card (that’s a lot of gas), but inside was a crisp $1.00 bill “To thank you for your time.”  Is it just me? Does this type of offer (not the raffle) but the buck turn anyone else off? One dollar? I mean I’ll clip coupons to save $1.00 …

Which got me thinking… can we put a dollar amount on someone’s time? And am I insulting people too? I give American Express gift certificates when people refer me, but are they insulted by the amount? Do I belittle their friendship, enthusiasm and support? Is a thoughtful gift – any gift – more meaningful? Am I inadvertently insulting people who simply want to do a good deed or the right thing? Does the dollar amount make a difference? Would a donation to a good cause be more meaningful? What should I do?

I bought the book, Predictably Irrational, in the Hong Kong airport and haven’t had a chance to complete it. So I googled it, and found this great blog post, The Trouble with Cold Hard Cash, that seems to answer the questions. Turns out money, no matter what the amount, based on a Goodyear Tire research study, isn’t nearly as good an incentive as a tangible reward. But is that true for a thank you?

What do you think? Should I just use those gift cards for my own self…