It is a simple exercise. A mental tool that I use with almost every class I teach in the luxury hospitality industry. First I share that the average income of a luxury hotel guest is $480,000. Because that is such a large number, it can be difficult to relate to – though we would all like to try! So let’s make that number make more sense for us ‘normal’ folks.
Which is the problem isn’t it? The past few years have been a smack down of major proportions. Many who have fallen can’t seem to get up from the financial situation they find themselves in – our own safety net is fraying too. So how strange it is that we expect recent college grads with $40,000 debt (read $70,000 with interest), making $32,000 per year to feel comfortable selling to millionaires. It is the 99% selling to the 1%. If they are not from that demographic, how can they be expected to sell with confidence?
I write the number $480000 on a flip chart. Underneath it I write the average income for a U.S. resident who works full time, which is $36,000 (source: census.gov). I ask the room, “Is the U.S. is a wealthy country?” (Years ago I always received an enthusiastic response of “yes”, now people seem less sure.) “The United States is a wealthy country.” I say – though we might not always feel like it.
So to return to the board, it is currently looking like this:
To make the rich seem more relatable, I draw a line through the last zero and place a comma after the “8” –now that top number reads like this: $48,0000 and we are getting somewhere. The participants might not make $48,000 yet but it is a number they can aspire to reasonably.
Now I write the average rate for a suite in the hotel for example $750 per night and ask, “Have you ever paid $750 for one night in a hotel before?” Of course they haven’t. I point out that they are basically selling something they would not buy themselves, which is an interesting fact to consider. “What if that same suite were $75, would you buy it then?” I draw a line through the zero on the $750. To this I get an enthusiastic “Yes!” And then I go on to point out that their $75 is the guest’s $750, pointing to the last zeroes in each number. Employees love this analogy because it allows them to see that the suite is not too expensive, just out of their price range.
I say, “In other words, don’t put yourselves in the guest’s shoes. We can’t afford their shoes. Their shoes are Manolos ours are Payless, and that is OK. In our lifetimes, we will be rich or poor, sick or well, happy or sad, let’s work with what we have at the moment and sell the value of the item instead of apologizing for the price.”
Money does not buy happiness…but when I am selling a suite for $750, I earn job security for myself and help to pay the salary of some very deserving co-workers. It doesn’t get better than that.