Ask for nothing and receive much

Recently I sold something via the Internet, and I was not available to meet the potential buyer at their requested time. I suggested using the “honor system,” leaving the exercise equipment curbside, and asked that the US$25 dollars be placed in an envelope with my name on it and placed in our mailbox.

When I returned, I immediately noticed the equipment was gone. I checked the mailbox, and sure enough, cash amounting to exactly US$25 was enclosed.

Several things could have gone wrong in this transaction:

1. I could have sold the product to a higher bidder and never informed the buyer, essentially wasting a trip from Maryland to Virginia.

2. The buyer could have decided the agreed-upon price was no longer acceptable, and could have left less money or no money.

3. The mail delivery person could have accidently taken the envelope.

4. In addition to the threat of rain, theft could have ruined the transaction.

The common thread throughout was “trust.” It was a fair price for a good product that ended up being a great value to the buyer. I was pleased to unload something that was cluttering my home and receive compensation for it.

Months ago, my family and I traveled to Miami, where we met a gentleman who was pushing a grocery cart full of coconuts he had collected. He was demonstrating how to open a coconut to get the water all while educating passersby on the importance and health benefits of the fruit/nut. Families would stop to watch, and he would offer an opened coconut with a straw to any child listening (with parental approval). 

My initial thought is that this was a great way to make money for something he did not pay any money for, but he did not charge anyone. He stated that coconuts were free to all kids to help educate them on the plant. If an adult wanted to enjoy one, he did not have a price, but said, “Pay what you’d like.” I saw a father drop a US$10 bill into his cart when he wasn’t looking!

Was this coconut gentleman in it for the money or for the fulfillment of spreading joy and environmental education?

Would this work in your professional world when perhaps price becomes a determining factor? What would happen if you offered a “pay what you can” promotion? Would your customers see the true value in your product, and could you “trust” them to pay the amount needed for profitability?

MPD: Ask for nothing and receive much in return.