By Karen Axelton

87834553Last week I went to the eye doctor and ordered new glasses. Because I need very specialized lenses, the amount I ended up paying for one pair of glasses and one pair of sunglasses could have bought a vacation cruise, a new sofa, a new computer or any number of much more exciting options.

I am not a big spender. In fact, I’m known to my family as “La Cheapa,” and at any given time my wallet is stuffed with coupons and I am conniving how to obtain a two-for-one special. But I was willing to shell out a lot of money for something I really needed.

The lesson to you? Every customer or potential customer, no matter how budget-minded, has something they’re willing to spend good money–possibly an outrageous amount of money–on. All you have to do is find out what it is.

In my case, here are five factors that convinced me to spend—and can convince your customers, as well:

  1. Convenience. I’m not generally a big fan of spending more for convenience. I wash my own car and will chop my own vegetables or pack my own lunch to save $3. But given the choice of getting my prescription, then driving all over town to various big-box optometrists and comparing prices, I opted for the one-stop shopping of my doctor’s office.
  2. Expertise. Because there are so many issues with my prescription, I wanted the hand-holding of someone who was an expert in not only eyeglasses, but my eyes, and could match the right frames and lenses with my needs.
  3. Trust. In an effort to save money, I’ve gone to different sources of eyewear before. But their coupons and special offers typically contain some “fine print” that negates any savings. I end up paying the same amount, but not really trusting what I’m getting the way I do glasses from my optometrist’s office.
  4. Relationship. I’ve been going to the same optometrist for nearly 20 years, and have gotten great service all that time, so I’m confident in the purchase. If something goes wrong, I know I can go back to them and have it made right.
  5. Empathy. I don’t have insurance, so the optometrist expressed sympathy for the high cost of what I needed and offered some special discounts. Feeling understood when you’re making a big purchase goes a long way.

As a small-business owner, you have a natural edge in all of these areas. You can provide empathy, personalized relationships and expertise tailored to the customers’ needs. Take advantage of this ability, and listen to your customers so you get a sense of when they’re willing to spend and what might make the difference in whether they buy—or don’t buy—from your business. Still not convinced? Check out this Wall Street Journal article for some entrepreneurs who got consumers to spend by offering something they couldn’t find anywhere else.