How to Sell When The Customer Wants to Buy

Black FridayThe offer you can’t refuse may be a cliché lifted straight out of the salesman’s toolkit, but the global frenzy of internet shopping that will accompany this week’s ‘Black Friday’ promotions demonstrates that value for money never goes out of fashion. The thorny issue of price has been every marketer’s nemesis over the past few years, with so many purchasing decisions being based on price rather than value, quality or trust. While Black Friday may be a retail gimmick rather than a B2B promotion, it does remind marketers of something important: price is often the foot in the door that value, quality and trust can keep open.

Take for example a construction contact of mine.  The company has recently won a relatively modest scheme with a high profile client. There’s little doubt the contract was won on price and the profit margin is probably so thin that you could hold it up to the light and see right through it….. but the money the company will make on this job is not the point.  The point is that the client relationship, the prestige of winning the contract and the kudos having the scheme in their portfolio will make up for the shortfall in profit.

No-one is suggesting that this is a viable the approach to all new business opportunities; profit margins have been squeezed enough since the financial crisis.  However, the concept of the loss leader is just as relevant to B2B businesses as it is to retail and, sometimes, promotions are a valuable way to support the work you’re doing on value proposition, branding and differentiation.

So what makes a promotion successful?  There are several key things to remember and here are our top five:

  • Make it deliverable – don’t over-promise and leave yourself financially or commercially exposed as a result
  • Make it defined – decide on a maximum time limit, price limit or customer limit
  • Make it relevant – the deal is only good if it’s attractive to your A-list prospects
  • Make it timely – the key to a good promotion is attracting the customer at a time when they want to buy
  • Make sure they know about it – a promotion is only effective if those you want to target know about it


Postmen will be laden down with parcels next after all this week’s frenetic internet shopping.  Isn’t it about time that you looked at when your business is quietest and planned in a promotion to kick start sales?