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Sales Teams: Who’s the Boss?

Sometimes sales people will negotiate harder with the home office about pricing than with the customer.  They will make nice with the customer and then fight tooth and nail with the boss to get the price they’ve already agreed upon with the customer.  I’ve seen many situations where a sales person will go to any length to avoid a pricing discussion with a customer because of perceived unpleasantness or confrontation, only to come back to battle it out at the home office, insisting that market conditions limit pricing power.

I recognize that sales people have a tough job.  Sales people are the front lines of the organization in good times and in bad.  They have to walk the tough line between the customer and the home office.  They have to advocate for the customers and form deep and relationships with the customers.  It’s the sales people’s job to take care of the customer.  I just sometimes see that some sales folks go a little rogue.  Remember who is writing the paycheck!

Selling on price isn’t selling; it’s taking orders.  It’s lazy selling and anyone can do that.  True value selling is communicating why your offering is worth more than the competition’s offering.  If you are better than your competition, you needn’t match price.  Of course your customer will try to get your high quality products and services for the lowest price they can.  That’s completely rational buying behavior.  It is your job to be equally prepared on the selling side to communicate why your offering is worth the premium you are asking.  We have all won business when we weren’t the cheapest, so there are circumstances, market conditions, customer requirements, etc. under which we have a competitive advantage even at a premium.  Matching pricing under those conditions means allowing your customers to keep your value differentiation in their pocket.  Your customers benefit from the premium in quality; shouldn’t you benefit from a premium in price?