We've been doing a lot of traveling this summer to baseball tournaments (30-second video showing how one playoff game ended), college baseball showcases and back. During these travels, one thing has become abundantly clear. Trucks and construction. Lots of trucks. Lots of construction. Lots of congestion on the roads because of all those tractor trailers.
If you heard that inventory levels are low, it's certainly not because companies have stopped buying. It's because the supply chain is busier and stronger than ever and as a result of all of the buying, our roadways are jammed with trucks shipping products to distributors, retailers, warehouses and fulfillment centers. Don't believe a word of it when you hear an economy related objection or put-off. Business isn't off, inventories aren't purposely low, money isn't tight, companies aren't on buying freezes, and the economy isn't tanking. If you aren't reading or hearing how historically great the economy is right now, you're listening to, watching or reading the wrong news outlets. Business is booming and procurement departments would like nothing more than for you to buy into the fake news, hoping that your next move will be an incentive.
I have an awful lot to say about incentives to buy! The occurrences are as predictable as the 6pm news beginning exactly at 6pm. If you have opportunities in the pipeline during the last week of the month, the last week of the quarter and the last two weeks of the year, and your prospects showed a strong likelihood of moving forward, they'll be sitting back waiting for a call from a salesperson or sales manager to sweeten the pot so that you can get this deal in before the end of whenever. How lame.
Why do we need salespeople if their only method of getting business closed is to offer a time-sensitive discount? Nor do we need sales managers and sales leaders spending their time offering discounts. Anyone, from any department, from any background, who is capable of having an adult conversation, is capable of making the, "Have I got a deal for you!" call. Even worse is when it occurs via email.
The practice of end-of-month, quarter and year incentives must stop. If salespeople aren't strong enough to sell and close the deal on its own merits, then companies should either hire stronger salespeople or train and coach up the existing salespeople so that they are providing much needed expertise and solutions, to prospects with problems who haven't been able to solve them on their own or with their current vendors. This describes a consultative approach. The timely discount is a transactional approach.
I know what you're thinking. "We do take a consultative approach and when they don't buy at closing time it's then that we offer a discount." That's actually quite transactional and you do that because your consultative approach is simply not consultative enough or not consultative at all.
Only 41% of all salespeople have consultative selling as a strength. But it's worse than it looks. Only 3% of the bottom half of all salespeople have strong consultative skills. Just about half of all salespeople do not have the skills to take a consultative approach!
It's similar with selling value. Only 41% of all salespeople have selling value as a strength and this is also worse than it looks as only 11% of the bottom 50% of salespeople have strong value selling skills. Just about half of all salespeople do not have the skills to sell value!
If we look at the Sales DNA behind those two competencies, the bottom half have Sales DNA of only 28%! That totally sucks. Instead of having the selling strengths to support a consultative and value-based approach they have selling weaknesses that sabotage their attempts to sell that way.
The data isn't from some lame survey. This is Objective Management Group (OMG) data from the evaluations and assessments of 1,885,255 salespeople from companies. You can see the data for yourself and even see how you compare in all 21 Sales Core Competencies.
All the blame for discounting does not fall on salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders. CEO's must accept their share of the blame for setting precedent. The sooner that CEO's shut the door on incentives, the sooner companies will stop suggesting that "we might be able to do better." When salespeople give prospects some hope that they will be competitive, in the ballpark, meet or beat any legitimate quote, or might be able to do better, value selling goes right out the window and in the prospects' eyes, if you then can't meet those expectations you lied. Only a CEO has the power to end that ill-advised strategy.
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