Scarcity vs. Abundance

I came across an interesting idea as I was cruising The Simple Dollar today. (I can safely say that this website has changed my life, and how I approach money. I have talked myself out of several misguided money moves just based on this website.) Trent was talking about the difference between the scarcity mentality and the abundance mentality.

The idea of scarcity vs. abundance was first discussed by Stephen Covey in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The basic idea boils down to how someone feels about the success that someone else enjoys. If you have a scarcity mentality, you look at someone else's success with disdain. You think that because that person has something you want, be it success, a new car, whatever, that you can't also get that item because that person has taken some of the resources available with which to obtain it. In other words, there is a pie that everyone gets a piece of. If someone starts taking a larger piece of the pie, that means there's less pie for everyone else.

If you have an abundance mentality, you feel the opposite. If someone gets something that they worked for, you feel that if you work to the same level you can also obtain the same thing the other person earned. To revisit the pie idea, there isn't just one pie. There are several pies, and more than enough pieces to go around if you work hard enough. Let's put it in car salesman terms: If Bobby goes out and works hard and saves and buys himself a Cadillac, Timmy can see that Bobby worked hard and achieved his goals. If Timmy has an abundance mentality, he feels that if he works hard, like Bobby did, he too can afford a Cadillac.

The reason I even brought up these ideas is the overarching feeling between salesmen that bringing in more salesmen on the sales floor means that there is less of a pie for everyone else. Most salesmen I've been around have a scarcity mentality, thinking that there is a finite number of customers that are going to be coming onto the lot, and the more salesmen you have on the floor the fewer opportunities for everyone else. Almost no one thinks within the abundance framework.

In my own experience, my dealership has gone through quite a bit of change over the past year. A lot of the older guys that I learned the game from have retired, leaving me as the third longest tenured salesman. Those older guys that retired weren't working from the same pies; if we had 13 guys, we had 14 pies. Each guy had his own pie of customers that weren't going to buy from anyone else (repeat/referral/family) and then there was the community pie of random customers that came on the lot.

With those older guys gone and replaced with younger, less established guys, the individual pies have shrunk, leaving more guys to share the community pie. I eat from the community pie as well, but I also have a large list of previous customers that come in and work with me. I work in the abundance mentality, because I know that the customers in my pie don't belong to the community pie. A lot of new salespeople struggle with that thinking, because they simply don't have the customer base. They almost have to work under the scarcity mentality, fighting with each other for sales opportunities.

So, how does all of this apply to you, the customer? Remember your salesman's name. If he gave you a card, bring the card. Because he's more likely than not working with a scarcity mentality, not remembering his name and working with someone else means that he is going to have to split the deal if you buy a car, which in turn leads to strife and resentment within the group.

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