Selling Out Of Your Own Pocket

Category: Story
Selling out of your own pocket

I recently went camping near Telluride, Colorado.

A friend, Brandon, came out to visit with his wife for their 5th anniversary from Kansas City, MO.

I was sharing with him a recent experience I had with my Toyota dealership.

I take my truck to the largest dealership in the world.

I drive farther to go there because of their reputation for doing great work and serving their customer.

I was sharing with Brandon how my service advisor recently didn't replace my truck's engine and cabin air filter.

My service advisor’s reasoning was, “you can save $35 if you do it yourself and it’s easy so I didn’t have that replaced.”

Said differently, my service advisor valued saving $35 and for him it was easy. He didn’t think to ask me about what I wanted.

Brandon, who works for Toyota, said that service advisors are generally trained to not "sell out of their own pocket."

Selling out of your own pocket

To sell out of your own pocket is to assume that someone else experiences something the same way you would.

This concept can be easily understood when it comes to cost. But what if we can expand this concept?

How do business leaders sell out of their pocket when it comes to marketing? Branding? Communication? Follow up? Expectations?

I’m glad you asked. Let’s examine.


Companies set pricing based on a myriad of factors.

Sometimes it’s based on the competition. (Who says “competition” knows what they’re doing?)

Sometimes it’s based on the cost of goods. For example, a restaurant might determine the cost of ingredients and people-hours that go into creating a dish and set the price from that. Or the cost it takes to manufacture a product.

Sometimes it’s based on what a business leader requires to run their business. The math looks like this: take how much fixed costs a business has over a given month, add a bit more for retirement. Factor in how many hours can be worked in a day. And set an hourly rate.

Sometimes it’s based on your own pocket. Someone who values their time a certain way, or how much they would pay for a product, sets their prices for their customer as such.

Sometimes it’s based on the perception of quality. A male friend of mine spends over $100 on a haircut. Why? Because he is someone who values his hair and as such, he spends money based on his values.


In marketing, is the marketing based on what is important to your ideal customers and target markets? Or is the marketing messages and content based off what you think is needed?

More often than not, I see experts in their field not fully break down their expertise for their customers. Being able to translate an area of expertise into a digestible way that their prospective customer can resonate with is an art.


I was working with a beverage company and I saw a branding piece that seemed a bit unusual. It seemed to appeal more to what they thought was funny rather than what their target market might think was funny.


Are you communicating with your audience in the way that works best for them? Or are you communicating with your customers in a way that is how you communicate?

For example, I have worked with experts who resort to email because that’s what works for them. But that may not be what works best for their customer.

Follow up

Do you follow up with your customers the way they want to be followed up with?

Or do you follow up with them as if you were expecting a follow up?

Do you ask?


Do you set expectations in a way that you would expect? Or do you set expectations based on how your customers want expectations to be set with them?

Business leaders “sell out of their own pocket” in many ways.

Self-awareness is the key to understanding whether or not you’re selling out of your own pocket or honoring someone else’s.

$1,000 to you may mean something different than to someone else.

Marketing, branding, communication, follow up and expectations may mean something different to you than it does to someone else.

While “selling out of your own pocket” can work, it is limited by the capacity and nature of "your pocket."

Most often, people attract people like them.

And sometimes that’s not the type of customer that is best for the business.

The beauty of concepts like this is they can get you insight.

In sight of a new way of doing what you do.

Like lifting a child on the shoulder of an adult so they can see differently.

May this serve you in getting what you are looking for.

By Matthew Gallizzi. Consultant. Thinking Partner. Strategic Advisor. He believes our language creates our world. He equips business leaders as they live into their future vision.

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