When you are selling a product or service the most powerful thing you can create is scarcity. Scarcity can cause customers to assume your product or service is more valuable and of a higher quality. Most importantly it generates an increased desire or need for whatever you are selling. Scarcity can even create that reason your customer needs to sign on the line that is dotted. For example, when we startedArchitel, our managed services company, we had lots of prospects who had agreed they wanted and needed our service, but we were having a hard time getting them to close. Changing technology providers is VERY disruptive and there are a million reasons to wait until next week or next month to sign our services contract. We needed a REASON to get them to sign now instead of later and that reason turned out to be scarcity.
At the time we could barely turn up one new client per week. The reality was that we could likely only turn up one new client every two weeks with our available staff. So we drew a 3 month calendar on a whiteboard in our office and listed all of the upcoming turn-ups, marking up a full week as unavailable for each. We then greyed out 50% of the remaining available weeks, marking them as unavailable as well. Next we listed all of the prospective clients next to the calendar and we realized that if we sold ALL of the prospects it would take MORE than 3 months to turn them all up using our new ‘turn-up availability calendar’.
We had just created ‘scarcity’. We couldn’t accommodate everyone that wanted our service. We then began calling our prospects and explained to them the available dates and that we had several other prospects who might take those dates if they didn’t act fast. Half of the clients went ahead and secured a turn-up date. They realized that if they delayed they might have to wait four months or more to get turned up. The truth was that our turn-up dates ARE a scarce resource we just didn’t market them as such before we invented the ‘turn-up availability calendar’.
Scarcity is usually pretty easy for a startup – as ALL resources tend to be scarce when you’re just starting out, but big companies use scarcity too – think Apple and the new iPhone. There are STILL lines out the door at Apple stores here in Dallas. Google did it with Gmail – you had to be invited by someone to get an email account. There are a million ways to create scarcity – it can be a VERY powerful sales tool for startups. Give it a try.