In the previous post we examined some of the ways your well-meaning office, marketing, production and accounting staff may come up with “cost-saving” suggestions than can actually hurt sales.
When little things go missing or the package gets simplified in the name of production efficiency, you may hear “It hasn’t affected sales”…yet! Or, “Our sales are still strong” implying all you were doing wasn’t necessary anyway, but the customer notices, even subliminally.
Eventually a competitor will move into the void. Beware of hubris from your non-sales people especially when sales are climbing.
Only when your Sales Support staff works directly with your Sales staff will a complete picture emerge.
Here are 5 suggestions to keep those “cost saving” ideas from hurting sales:
1. Put your non-sales people in the field so they can appreciate what the customer really wants and see first-hand what your sales people are up against. Make sure your sales people are with them to point out the nuances of the market, the distribution system, and the existing advantages of your product and package. Ask them to share what they discovered. They will be less likely to inadvertently damage the selling points by “cheapening” your product or your package.
2. Run everything by your sales people that affects your product and its image. Before you allow a change or “improvement” to the product or the package, check with the folks who have to actually make the sale, overcome the objections, and talk directly to the decision makers and the end user. Top-down thinking, when it comes to product, package design and even promotion, can undermine what has taken years to establish.
3. Show them the money! It’s critical that your non-sales people appreciate where the money comes from that pays their salaries, bonuses, and benefits. It comes from the customer, and nowhere else. When folks are hired, present them with an info-graphic that follows the money trail backwards from the customer through the distribution system, through the marketing and sales system, through the supply and production system, and winds up in their pockets. It seems obvious, but it is soon forgotten especially as your company gets larger.
4. Pay your non-sales staff bonuses based on sales. Once they see the relationship between sales and their own compensation, they will have a personal interest in the details of what exactly makes sales happen in the field. You’ll be surprised at the many ways they find to assist your sales people, and their suggestions will be coming from a better appreciation for sales realities. They will want your sales people to sign-off on their “cost saving” suggestions.
5. Acknowledge good Ideas that reduce costs and actually increase sales. Publicly identify and praise suggestions that work with testimonials from your sales people. Announce “Our Sales Support staff has done it again!” to single out the person or team that came up with the idea and the sales people who worked with them. This type of public validation from you sends a powerful message to your staff that you appreciate their sales-wise ideas.
In today’s market, if you’re not adding value, you’re losing value. You don’t “save” money by reducing the real or perceived value of your product. It’s essential to continue to communicate your product’s value, quality, authenticity and dependability to your buyers and end-users. Run all “good ideas” by your sales team first!