By Andrew Wood

We can communicate an idea around the world in
60 seconds, but it sometimes takes years for an
idea to get through a quarter inch of human skull.
-Charles F. Kettering

Frank was a good friend of mine and ran a successful karate school in Southern California. He was located in a lower income part of town, but he still had over 170 students, each of whom paid $60 a month for group tuition. In addition to this, at least 50 of these clients managed to find an extra $60 per month to pay for private lessons.

One day Frank called to invite me to his wedding. After congratulating him and chatting for a while, I asked him where he was going on his honeymoon. At this point he grew quiet and confided that he did not have enough money for a honeymoon. I asked why he didn’t just upgrade one of his students to the Black Belt course that usually sold for around $2,500. (This would allow the student to take lessons for some three to four years with no additional fees, thus saving a good deal of money for the student.) At the same time, Frank would have $2,500 in cash to use for his honeymoon. He responded that he had tried this approach, but people in his area simply could not afford the $2,500 fee for the course. I told him I could help him if he would dedicate an hour of his time to me.

The next day, the first thing I noticed as I walked across the parking lot and entered his school was a Mercedes coupe. In it sat a young boy wearing a karate uniform. Then I noticed that one of the parents waiting in the lobby was wearing a gold Rolex watch. When class ended a few minutes later, Frank and I sat down in his office and I pointed out that his poor students’ parents could afford a Mercedes and a Rolex. He assured me these two people were exceptions to the general rule and that most of his students were indeed from lower-income families. I began to ask him some questions.

Don’t Underestimate Your Customers or Yourself!

First, I asked Frank if he really believed karate lessons could help people improve their lives. He responded passionately that they could. Next I asked why one or two of the 50 or so students who paid him $60 a month for private lessons could not afford to pay $2,500 and never have to pay for a lesson again. He replied that it was just too expensive. I then asked if he thought it was too expensive. He thought briefly and then said that he could not have afforded that much money when he was paying for karate lessons.

I had unearthed problem number one: He was assuming by projection that his students shared his financial problems. Because he could not come up with $2,500 in cash, he automatically ascribed the same difficulty to his students. This of course was a false assumption! Then I asked how much he thought his time was worth. He replied that he charged $30 per half hour for a private lesson, and that he believed he was worth every penny. Then I inquired how long it took a private student to reach black belt. To this he replied, “About four years.” I pointed out that $120 a month for four years came to almost $6,000, and that if he sold a student a prepaid black-belt program, he would save that student more than $2,500 over the course of study. This savings meant that if the student stayed with the program all the way to blackbelt rank (only 1 in 50 does) he would be paying less than $15 per private lesson rather than the $30 he was currently paying. When I asked Frank if he thought that was a good deal, he replied that he thought it was a great deal! Maybe too cheap!

I reminded Frank that because only one in five completed the program, he stood a good chance of making considerably more per lesson. He glowed with delight at the improved prospect. Problem number two was solved. Frank had been focusing on the cost of the program instead of the actual savings and benefits his students would receive. As soon as he realized his error, he saw the whole matter in a different light. Now that he was focused on a program that saved his students a considerable sum, instead of worrying about the overall cost, he began to approach his students with new zeal and quickly sold the cash program to several students before his wedding day

This story is repeated a thousand times a day across the country by countless salespeople selling cars, shoes, paper, information, and other products and services. Salespeople too often place a mental barrier on themselves and, in doing so, thwart their own efforts to obtain the success they deserve.

The only real proof that prospects can’t or won’t buy is to ask them, ALL of them!

About Andrew Wood
Andrew Wood is considered by many as one of the world’s leading sales & marketing minds with a track record of entrepreneurial success in multiple industries. He is the author of over 20 books on sales and marketing including: “Cunningly Clever Marketing,” “Cunningly Clever Selling,” and “TheCunningly Cever Entrepreneur”. For more details please visit