By Sue Barrett, founder, Barrett Consulting

Unfortunately discounting is heavily used in Australian retail. It’s becoming even more rife as deals and group buying websites emerge and bricks-and-mortar businesses cut their prices to try and compete with online retail operations here and overseas.

Discounting in any business sector, retail or B2B, may initially increase turnover, but the losses will be evident in the longer term. A salesperson’s attitude changes when selling discounts and it’s precisely this attitude we need to avoid.

Welcoming a climate of perpetual discounting may potentially lead to the erosion in our quality of life and may limit our ability to make the right and best choices for ourselves, our businesses, our communities and the environment. When people stop caring, this is when problems start to appear.

Here are some tips to help you stay sales-focused in the midst of the discount trend:

In the good old days a ‘sale’ was usually a seasonal event used to turn over old products before the new season’s wares were made available. Now, however, there are ‘sale’ wars waging everywhere, all year round. In short, over the last 10-15 years the consumer has been habituated to look for a good deal. The real value of having a range of products and services to choose from across a wide value scale seems to be lost in a mentality of ‘it must be a good deal’. Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting a good deal but we need to look at what actually constitutes a good deal and what the impacts are.

With discounts and sales around every corner, the consequence will include poorer business performance, less investment in new ideas and products, loss of jobs, business closure, decreased diversity and poorer quality products sourced in place of better quality offerings.

Sounds depressing? All this leads to increased customer dissatisfaction, and less choice as a result. So are we shooting ourselves in the foot while we pound the pavement looking for cheap deals?

As products, services and processes cheapen, so will the way salespeople<one word in our style> interact with their customers and clients. The cheaper something is, it seems, the less enthusiastic and driven the salesperson will become. The mindset that dominates is ‘If you don’t want it, then someone else will’.

Thinking beyond the immediate outlay of money, we can view every sale as an investment. Invest in your relationships, service and problem-solving skills and you will ultimately see your customers and clients return.

Integrity and honesty

False promises, dubious actions, bad behaviour, customer complaints and bad press will be tracked and publically broadcasted to many in 2011 and into the future. Just because something is discounted doesn’t mean you don’t owe that duty of care. Be honest and upfront about any issues, and your clients and customers will remember this.

Not everyone values the discount – understandably everyone wants to save money, especially in these times. However, not everyone values the discount above quality advice and service. This is what will win them over, not the savings.

Let’s not forget the simple fundamentals of selling and quality customer service, advice and problem solving. Although many are now programmed to only be on the look-out for what is cheap, let’s not cheapen the world of selling even more by lack of consideration for the sales process.

Sue Barrett
BY Sue Barrett ON 19 September 2011
Sue Barrett is one of the leading female voices commenting on sales today. An experienced business speaker and adviser, facilitator, sales coach, training provider and entrepreneur and founder of Barrett Consulting, which provides sales assessments, sales consulting, sales coaching and sales training programs.

Visit Barrett Consulting's website,
Facebook page, or follow @SueBarrett on Twitter.