no urgency.

Posted on November 26, 2011 by

My favorite used car salesman is barely a salesman at all.

His name…well, let’s call him M.  He works for a local dealership.  And he spends a lot of time talking, a lot of time listening, and a lot of time smiling.

He has never pushed me into a purchase.

I have never felt rushed.

I have never felt hurried.

And I will willingly go back to that dealership over and over again.

I’ve learned my lesson.

I’ve decided I’m against urgency.

This is a radically unpopular stand in some circles, including what appears to be the whole internet. Even people who sell stuff and experiment with not-urgent eventually decide that urgency is the way to go.

Why?

It makes people make a choice.  Yes or no, but not the endless maybe.

Deadline Tonight!

Only four spots left!

Starts Tuesday!

In other words, hurry up!

Ick.

I don’t like to make fast decisions, although I’m capable of it.  I prefer to think things through, check in with my brain and with my gut, and go from there.

I am, as I type, in the midst of trying to make an urgent decision.

It feels, predictably, icky.

My gut says yes.  But my brain can’t figure out why, or if it’s on the verge of having a much better idea.

Urgency can make us shit or get off the pot.  But urgency can also make us leap without knowing where we’re going.

And I think urgency is inherently extroverted, favoring process-out-loud over process-and-then-talk.

Now there’s some urgency that’s real: house burning down, urgent agenda is to leave.  Well, yes.  Obviously urgent.  Good reason to hurry.  But if you know you’re going to do something by x day, say release a product for a week’s worth of selling, give me a month notice.  Or two.  More if it costs a lot.  I can make a decision nice and fast, but my budget can’t keep up with my brain all the time.  I like to know where my money is coming from and where it’s going.  Instant demands for large chunks of cash can turn a possible sale into an impossibility, no matter how much I want it.

Give me a heads up.  Let me save.  Let me plan.  Half of why we’re having so much trouble with credit these days is that urgency built into every purchase we make.  Hurry!  Order yours today!

Gone are the days of peering in the toy store window, longing for a bicycle for a month or a year.  If you don’t buy it this week it will be gone, sold, replaced with a newer and more expensive model.  Saving up becomes this Sisyphean task because the price is always just a little out of reach, so we learn not to try.  Better to just buy now on credit and pay forever.

What a mess.

So, my dear colleagues in the internet world:

If your thing costs more than $75–or heck, more than $50–

please don’t act like everyone is rich.  Instead, be like my car salesman.

Announce the thing well in advance of any deadlines, and don’t expect sales right away.  Say the price right up front, and the timetable.

I will be selling Magic Widget X starting now, for two months.  It will cost $437.21.  Here’s a permalink for your toolbar.  I will email you to remind you about the deadline if you sign up for this list right here.

Now when I get your email I am happy to hear from you, because I didn’t want the Magic Widget X deal to slip away without making a conscious choice about it.  I will have had the chance to try to save up the money.  I am less likely to spend what I don’t have.

And if I do spend it because I saved it, I’m likely to feel a whole  lot better about that, too.