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The “Good Guy Discount”

Nothing heavy in this blog post, folks.  Just a segment from This American Life about the ole’ “Good Guy Discount.”  Thirteen minutes of listening pleasure to play in the background while you write emails or balance your checkbook.  The “Good Guy Discount” request works 20% of the time, according to this story.

This segment unfolds in consumer retail, and therefore doesn’t directly relate to most of my client base.  But there is salience:  customers will ask for discounts even when they value your products and services and even when they are willing to pay you full asking price.  Why?  Because it can’t hurt to ask.  Don’t fall for the “Can’t Hurt To Ask” tactic.  Customers often act like they aren’t going to buy unless you drop your price even when it’s not true.  They present a phantom volume threat to get your stuff for less than it’s worth.  They’re in the “Can’t Hurt To Ask” Club.  You know this happens because you’ve probably done it too.  Don’t give away your superior quality, service, and value for less than it’s worth out of fear of phantom volume loss.

Happy listening!

Prologue – 6 Minutes

Story – 7 Minutes


2 responses to “The “Good Guy Discount”

  1. Hi —

    A story about asking for discounts. We homeschooled in NYC without much $, and I needed to ask for scholarships. It was embarrassing, but I would do anything for my kids.

    One time my oldest got a scholarship for a pottery class. I was so grateful as he adored clay, even slept with it. So, I went to the class and the teacher puts an apron over my head and says, “Join us! It will be fun.” Actually I had planned to sit with my two year old to read a book in the garden together. She said my two year old could join as well.

    Later that afternoon the executive director called me screaming over the phone. How dare I sit in on the class with my two year old.

    I was speechless. Like, whoops.

    So, sometimes you need to be careful not only for what you ask for, but what is given.

    Loved your talk on Ted. AWESOME!


  2. As someone who works in pricing for a living, I tend to pay attention to pricing decisions in my personal life, as well. And I would definitely say that the “good guy discount” request works. I’d say it works even more than the 15% or so they cited in the audio recording. You don’t have to come up with a cheesy name like “good guy discount.” For example, when I take my car to the dealer for service, you just ask the service writer if they have any coupons available. Provided you are having something more significant done than an oil change, they can nearly always find a 10% off the labor portion for you without anyone feeling uncomfortable. But I’d also suggest that you have to pay attention to who you are talking to. If you are dealing with a 16 year old young person at the grocery store, you’re not going to get anywhere. Even if they wanted to give you a discount, they wouldn’t know how and would have to go off and find the manager to help. This seems to work better when you are dealing with a professional level person who can make a smart decision about whether they can or cannot do some type of accommodation.