Taking the sting out of your sales communications

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While I was running a franchise branch of Brochure Management in around 2008, I had a sales man called Willy. He was in his late fifties, the kind of man that was always happy and enthusiastic but might be described by the aphorism, ‘down on his luck’. He got the job because he was a family friend and needed work and I really did like him.

He had some of the good – if old fashioned – qualities of a sales man. He was thick skinned, first of all, happy to flog the same dead horse time and time again, not matter how many times he was rejected, always with a willing smile. He also had the peculiar mind that pays notice to small personal details and remembers them so that any sales conversation started with him addressing the client by name and asking after a family member or two as if he really cared, which he may well have, quickly forming rapport.

His major problem, and this may have been a product of struggling throughout his life, was that it was antithetical for him to not offer a discount. All sales were made by offering a special or promotion or a discount. He was so bad in fact that even after he signed the deal, he insisted on offering a discount, for no reason whatsoever. I think he liked to be liked. Unfortunately, this mannerism projected an image that the product or service was not really worth its asking price.

For most of my life I have suffered from a similar malady. In almost all of my businesses, I concentrated on discounted products, sales promotions and voucher services. What I learned the hard way was that not only were discounted jobs just as much work as full price jobs but for some inexplicable reason, discounted work inevitably became more problematic. Again and again the biggest problems I had (with rejections and non-payment and endless changes) came from people who had got the cheap deal.

As Marianne Williamson famously said: ‘your playing small does not serve the world’.

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