You’re Never Outside the System – The Commodity Trap, and How to Avoid It

Christine rose and walked to her desk. She grabbed a document from the cluttered desktop and returned to the conference table.

“Scott, you mentioned that a salesperson can develop relationships with customers that the Internet and direct mail can’t match,” she said. “Here’s some research that agrees with you. This is a white paper from The Sales Board, the company that created the Action Selling ® system. It reports the results of a nationwide study of salespeople and sales executives about the very problem you’ve got: price competition.”

She turned to a page of summary findings. “Sales executives say that the Number 1 reason customers buy from their company instead of the competition is due to the customer’s relationship with a salesperson.”

That sounded encouraging. Scott leaned forward attentively.

“But there’s a little more to it,” Christine warned. “Eighty-six percent of sales executives agree that top salespeople generate higher margins than average ones.” She looked him in the eye. “That suggests to me that top salespeople must handle price conversations differently than average ones. Wouldn’t you agree?”

No longer encouraged, Scott just nodded.

“Here are two more findings about the difference between top sales reps and average ones,” she said. “Eight out of 10 sales executives say that most of their salespeople are ineffective at dealing with price objections. And they say that the No. 1 reason why average sales reps fail to get their price is because they fail to differentiate themselves from the competition.

“It seems to me,” Christine continued, “another way to say that is that an average sales rep’s customers see his products as undistinguishable. Which means that the only difference customers are likely to see between his products and the competition’s is the price. Which means there actually isn’t a whole lot of difference between that average salesperson and a direct-mail flyer.”

Scott’s self-image as a talented, veteran sales rep was taking a beating. One word kept ringing in his ears. Average. No, not even average, he thought. It’s my territory that’s dragging the average down.

Research* says…