What's the worst sales strategy

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There is hardly anything in this world that someone cannot make a little worse.

The book market is full of books that deal with sales strategies. "Selling for winners", "Top Seller IT", "From flop to top" or whatever the books may be called. There are also hundreds of seminars in which full professionals turn good salespeople into very good salespeople. The booking figures show that these professionals are excellent salespeople.


So there is no shortage of advice and action. Anyone who is unsure or who sells badly can draw on an almost immeasurable abundance. But in many customer-service provider relationships in IT, the customer service representative of the outsourcing partner either seems to have no budget for buying a book or attending a seminar, not using this budget, if it exists, or - that would be the worst of all variants - the content of books and seminars either not to be included or to be understood at all.

Kurt Tucholsky summed it up many years ago: “Experience doesn't mean anything. You can do your thing badly for 35 years «. And with John Ruskin one can add: "There is hardly anything in this world that someone cannot make a little worse (...)". The omission in the quotation is intentional. We will come back to this later.


Let's stick with the variant of those responsible for customers who, despite reading books and attending seminars, feel more committed to the dogmas of Tucholsky and Ruskin. This group of Tucholsky-Ruskin disciples, small but constantly trying to sell to themselves, uses a new tool with an unprecedented virtuosity and virulence in order to win over customers at the last minute. From the Latin class it may seem familiar to one or the other reader that the verb persuadere has (at least) two different German translations: convince and persuade. The first translation is completely disregarded, in the end it's all about persuasion. And with that the tool of the »WAFO« was born.

WAFO in its highest perfection. The "good" sales professionals will now probably scream and argue that there can only be one BAFO [1]. But they are taught otherwise. There really is, the WAFO, the »Worst And Final Offer«. Where - finally, it should not be understood in the literal sense that it really is the »last offer« in the sense of »after that no further offer will be made«. In this context, final means that it represents the last, i.e. the most current, offer at the current moment. Things are still getting worse - and as sure as the amen in church there will be another WAFO a few days later, which is actually even worse in Ruskin’s sense than the worst offer so far. That brings us back to Ruskin and the omission. Because actually Ruskin says that there is hardly anything »that someone cannot sell a little worse and a little cheaper«. But what kind of bad salesman would it be who would do it willingly? Here the pure teaching was actually expanded and improved to the extent that it is now said that the offer should be sold both a little worse and a little more expensive. This is WAFO in its ultimate perfection. So that the customer does not notice that he should also pay more for less service, the bag of tricks of dialectical rabidism is reached deeply.

In the meantime, however, the IT customer representatives are immunizing themselves against the gossip about what to expect and, despite all WAFO attempts, rely on quality, progress and performance. One of the moves of the most gifted WAFO officials is therefore the possibility of escalation at all levels of the governance pyramid. The next WAFO on the golf course is then negotiated and decided at the managing director or board level, bypassing the specialist department, usually even with the aid of golf course key figures. Because let's be honest - the ladies and gentlemen from IT have no idea what is good for business anyway, they are always only concerned with their own benefit.

And in this way, many a WAFO falls on fertile ground and it is the beginning of a terrible customer-service provider relationship. Bad endings, all bad.


Christoph Lüder (left), Marcus Schwertz,
[1] Best And Final Offer

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