How to Never Make a Bad Purchase Again

More than Just Mellow

If you were even a little bit groovy in the 1970s, you’ll surely remember the musical question: “Do you know where you’re going to?” It was first asked by Diana Ross and later, I learned, covered by Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey.

The song offers more than wistful melancholy and poor grammar. It also poses the most important question for buying and negotiating. Before you make that purchase: Do you know where you’re going to? 

[Link to video: How to Never Make a Bad Purchase Again]

Purpose over Price

Everything we buy should serve our goals; that is, it should get us closer to where we are going (to). The goal is more important than quality, vendor, solution, and price. If you cannot connect a line between the purchase and a goal, then it’s likely to be wasted money.

As individuals, our destination can be vague or even dubious. We may buy something with a goal of more comfort, more fun, less guilt, or some other aim. When the dollars are small, we may not even really think about it.

Organizations can be held to a higher standard, and are usually less complex in their aims. With few exceptions, all company goals fall into three buckets:

  • Quality-related: Making something better
  • Quantity-related: Selling more
  • Cost-related: Spending less in time or money

So before you whip out the credit card, jot down answers to these questions: What is the goal that this purchase moves you closer to? What is the purpose behind the purchase?


Verse 2: Do you get what you’re hoping for?

After you know the purpose, how will you know if you have achieved it? 

My friend Ian Altman, a world-class sales trainer and speaker, says that features and results have become secondary, if not irrelevant. What matters now are outcomes and results.

The best time to define success is before you buy, and the best way is with specific quantitative measures. Nearly all of those measures will fall in one of these three categories:

  • Quality-related: Fewer Defects, Faster production
  • Quantity-related: More revenue, More leads
  • Cost-related: Less cost, Less time

Those are high-level; the right metric for your purchase may be more specific.

Do not exempt yourself from this step unless the dollars are very small. EVERY purchase you make has meaningful results that are measurable, and correlate to success of the project. (If you doubt this, check the video where I share 10 metrics to an improved marriage.)


No Apology

Diana’s breathy vocals may be in your head all day, or at least until you hear “Call me Maybe” or something of equal hook-appeal. (Now I apologize.) That’s OK; it will be worth the annoyance if you remember these two critical questions when you buy:

  • How does this purchase get us closer to our goals?

  • How will we measure the results to gauge success?

I help clients answer these questions with a very simple worksheet called “The Benefit Bridge.” In the teaching video here, I explain this process and the worksheet. It is a quick way to confirm a purchase and prioritize. (If you’re taking Negotiate Value, you’ll see this video in Lesson 9.)

Let me know if you’d like a copy of the worksheet, or if you get stumped trying to measure your goals. Or just drop me a note if you know where you’re going to.

And stay tuned for the next musical question: “Have you never been mellow?” 😉 


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