Why “Deal Sweeteners” Don’t Work When Selling Digital Presses

How much have you given away that you didn’t need to when selling a press?

I once carried out an exercise with a company that sold presses. We added up the value of everything that was being given away as part of the average press sale. Everyone, myself included, was incredibly shocked at the final figure. It caused a big change in the way this company managed deal sweeteners.

Salespeople are often still trained in the art of the deal sweetener, even though the value of this strategy is now highly questionable.

What is a deal sweetener?

Deal sweeteners are items of value that are given to the customer at no charge as part of a press deal. A common approach when selling a press is to give a customer some free software, consultancy, consumables or premium membership.  The idea is that this will either stop the customer asking for a lower price or make the difference in the choice of press or supplier.

However, all too often, the price is still lowered or the customer goes elsewhere. The deal sweetener has served no purpose.

Why don’t deal sweeteners work?

There are four reasons why deal sweeteners no longer achieve what they are supposed to. The most important reason is that the customer is rarely made aware of the value of what they are receiving. In some cases, even the salesperson is not aware of the true sales cost!

Another reason is that the customer does not appreciate what they are being offered. The benefit that these items bring to their business is often not explained to them. Deal sweeteners are now common practice: they no longer seem unusual and special to a customer.

Next, deal sweeteners have often been given to customers in the past and have not been used. Many printing companies have shelves stacked with free software that has never been installed and is now gathering dust. Much of what is offered is viewed as worthless by customers.

Finally, many salespeople focus on selling the press. They offer deal sweeteners as part of a well-established sales routine, rather than because they have any real faith that what they are offering will help the customer. If the salesperson does not believe in what they are offering then why should the customer?

So what’s the solution?

It is time to focus on a different type of sale. Most companies will benefit from employing a more long-term consultative approach, as outlined in my recent blog post “How to Get Away from the Commodity Price Conversation.”

This does not mean that we should forget about deal sweeteners completely. We just need to change our approach to them.

Here are three rules to making sure deal sweeteners are used more effectively

  1. Research your customer thoroughly. Make sure that you only offer deal sweeteners that really are of interest to them and will help their business.
  2. Always value the deal sweetener. Make sure that the customer is in no doubt about the true sales cost of what is being offered.
  3. Follow up after the sale and make sure that the deal sweetener is actually being used. This is also an opportunity to ensure that the customer really does appreciate what else they have gained when they purchased a digital press from you

If you follow these three rules then you will avoid giving away something that you didn’t need to when selling a press.


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