I Can't Afford It

“I can’t afford it” is frequently heard by business owners, especially during tough economic conditions. During prosperity, it is a price negotiation tactic. During a recession, it is a revealing expression of pain, uncertainty or worse. It is the American business way, when sales are down or during recessionary periods to immediately slash or eliminate all marketing activities – first, advertising then PR, then trade-shows, then sales travel and the list goes on. If the business has a sales staff, the common practice is to apply 100% pressure on “the sales guy” to perform. So, here is an interesting challenge: Who on your team is the first to know or spot signs of business trouble? If you answered the “sales guy” you are correct. Way before the phones slow down or stop ringing, way before you get the call from your competitor “hey, things are kind of slow right”?, your sales team followed by your customer service group are the ones who know what’s coming or what has already started to take place.

Assuming (incorrectly but for the sake of argument) “all things being equal”, your competitors’ sales team are out there pounding on the same customers and working hard to be the first ones to get the deal. They know what’s coming, not just from an economic standpoint but also from an internal standpoint – the meetings with the Boss, the pressure, the subliminal threat of losing a job.

When flocks of sales guys descend on customers, it creates a buyer’s market and an instant conversion into “commodity” pricing – you value proposition, unique selling point (USP), long term relationships are all gone.

The fallacy of what appears to be the right decision is especially evident when you think you can’t afford something.

The real question is: “Can you afford NOT to”?