Have you ever spent almost enough? Not what you should have spent to get what you needed, but almost enough to get what you needed?

Here’s an example: let’s say Angie needs a VoIP phone system. Being a thoughtful and careful businessperson, Angie takes some time to figure out exactly what she wants from her phone system—call screening, conferencing, on-hold music and so on. She builds a business case detailing how it will improve the way she operates. She even learns about features and benefits she didn’t know existed—hello, door entry phones and remote-controlled door locks!—functionality that can save her time and money and give her a sizeable competitive edge in her industry. So all of that goes on the list, too.

Equipped with a clear idea of what she needs, Angie goes shopping. So far, so good. But—spoiler alert—here’s where things start to go sideways for Angie.

Best-Laid Plans and Big Scary Numbers 
This should be an easy one for Angie’s longtime technology vendor. Angie’s done the legwork—all her salesperson has to do is point her toward the VoIP system that ticks all the right boxes.

But when it comes time to talk price, Angie blinks. A big scary number gets attached to that big shiny phone system and somewhere deep in Angie’s brain, a warning light pulses. An alarm bleats. A redlined budget looms. And all Angie’s good intentions fly right out the window.

Angie rationalizes: A cheaper system will do most of what I want, right? She dithers: Do I really need that entry buzzer thing? She retreats: Who am I? General Motors? All I need is the basics.

And she ends up spending three-quarters of what she should have on her VoIP phone system.

The Mathematics of Mice and Mediocrity
So what did that 75 percent buy? Three-quarters of what Angie needed? Probably not. Half? Maybe not even that, because solutions just don’t tend to scale that way. There’s a tipping point, a price of entry, a line in the sand to cross if you want to get to the oasis. Ramping up to that tipping point, though, all you get is degrees of mediocrity. Angie, because she went into the deal like a lion and came out like a mouse, got a particularly mediocre solution, one she’ll regret buying at her leisure. For years.

And she almost certainly will regret it—instead of correcting it—because of sunk costs. She’s come too far and spent too much to turn back now. It leaves a bad taste in her mouth. Chances are pretty good that taste will be associated with you for as long as Angie owns her mediocre phone system.

Angie is in the grip of Almost Spent Enough Syndrome. Even though she’s spent a lot, she doesn’t have a lot to show for it.

The Solution that Might Have Been
Almost Spent Enough Syndrome happens to everyone, including your customers. Customers who, once they realize they’ve spent a considerable fraction of what they should have spent and gotten considerably less than they really needed, tend to want to blame someone. Maybe themselves. Maybe you. Either way, it’s a problem. As they say: buy cheap, buy twice.

The Antidote to Almost Spent Enough Syndrome
The solution is simple: offer financing early and often. Even if a customer is dead set on paying in cash. Maybe even especially if a customer wants to pay in cash. Why? Because cash is hard to part with, for one. But it also sets a hard bound on what a customer can afford, whether or not it’s enough to get the solution the customer needs. Thus, Almost Spent Enough Syndrome and all of the unfortunate things that come along with it.

So when a customer comes to you with cash in hand, do them—and yourself—a favor and make them aware that there’s a more flexible way to pay, a way to get what they need, instead of what current circumstances dictate they can afford. Offer financing, and help your customer avoid spending almost enough to get the solution they really need.