Monday, January 5, 2009
Sale Ends Tomorrow... Yeah, Right!
I was in a local health store about a week ago, and while visiting with the sales person, it became very clear that she did not know the differences in the two products she was showing me (that's a problem to discuss another time). Set on gathering more information before making my decision, I told her I'd go home and search on-line before making a purchase. This is when my poorly trained sales rep exclaimed "well you need to hurry back today because our sale will end tomorrow". My reply was simple... "oh, I'll decide right away then", and with that, my decision was made. I would probably buy on line, and if I did return to that store, it would be next week. I'm no dummy, this is the last week of December and everyone has January sales, right?
Here's my point. I didn't believe this sales person. She had, to my knowledge, not been untruthful in the entire eight minutes of my life that I knew her, so, why did I assume she was lying? Answer: She's a sales person.
Most businesses who use a sales force to market, gain a reputation for being untruthful mainly because of one "fib". The one your sales team uses to create a sense of urgency. Who buys a new car at the end of June because the rebates will change at the end of the month? Answer: Nobody, the rebates get even better closer to fall. For instance, there's a yellow page directory publisher who offers "early decision incentives (EDI)" for advertisers who sign up early. Most of the time they include a huge discount or bonus ads. The idea behind it its clear. Sales into the directory come easy at the end of the sales cycle because of the rush to not be "left out" before the publishing deadline. Nobody wants to be left out for an entire year. However, when the sales cycle begins, all those businesses want to wait. The book is a year from publishing. Offering those "early decision incentives" is a great way to get people to act now.
Great in theory, that is.
Here's where the system fails. In past years, the EDI did not end. Instead, it was available through the entire sales cycle. When customers realized this, they lost that sense of urgency to act early and could take their time. When that happens, management cringes because sales numbers look bleak until the end of a sales cycle and pacing of productivity is way off. To aide in quick sales during their panic, management will likely offer discounts trumping those EDI offered to loyal early acting customers. This further perpetuates the cycle of waiting until the last minute and crunched (often moved back) deadlines. But worse of all, slices a hole in trust your sales team is trying to build with clients. Not to mention, trust your team has in management. No honest sales rep wants to lie to their customer by selling at one price today, what they could get at a better price tomorrow. Especially when it comes at the price of not being "in the know" of their own company's deadlines. Customers will challenge these deadlines often, and most of those times, the customer will be correct.
Ponder this cycle and how it applies to what you're doing now. Come back tomorrow to hear the solution to this cycle. Hint: I found it at the Disney Store. It had something to do with what my 8 year old daughter wanted to spend her Christmas money from grandma on.