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Off-Court Pricing Power

Gulfshore Business Associate Publisher Rob Wardlaw tells how to sell smart.



When I was a student at the University of North Carolina, the Tar Heels basketball team was the heart and soul of the campus. Then, as now, basketball was something that unified people and, particularly for students, it added tremendously to school spirit. As you might expect, I went to many, many games during my years as a student and I was quite a fan.

The process to secure tickets was a difficult ritual that involved staying up all night and waiting on long lines, often in the cold. As I recall, student tickets did not have a face value, or dollar amount printed on them. However, that fact didn’t stop people from offering to buy our tickets before virtually every game.

People would even call out from their cars trying to get our attention and then shout out an amount that they’d offer. I don’t remember the exact amount of the highest offer I ever received, but even back then, I remember that it was a considerable price. Despite that, I was never tempted to sell. Not to say that I wouldn’t have sold my ticket back then under any circumstances. I’m sure if I’d heard an amount I couldn’t refuse, I would have sold. Therefore, to state it more accurately, the money that was offered did not meet the threshold for me to sell.

In an interesting twist, that is the true lesson of this story. It was we students who had the maximum leverage as potential sellers of our tickets—and these were perceived as both desirable and valuable to those who didn’t have them. Normally, it is sellers who solicit buyers, but in the above instance, it was motivated buyers that were soliciting people like me as a potential seller. Real estate agents will be quite familiar with this scenario as a seller’s market. But now, many years later, I believe that my price to sell that same Tar Heel basketball ticket would be much lower.

And it is that shifting dynamic between buyers and sellers that is

the most critical reality for salespeople to grasp. The price of your product or service must always match the expectations of the buyer and this can change dramatically over time. But beware that in rare instances, it is sometimes sellers that will use their leverage to push prices much higher—and it is your duty as a salesperson to know when and where to take full advantage of this pricing power.

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