Whenever we face a few challenges on the financial front and we find that it has got harder to get sales, we have to be careful to avoid the temptation of "getting the sale at any cost." Rest assured there is always a cost to pay when you try to get the sale at any cost.

There is no point in discounting to the point where you literally make no money, or even worse, the sale is going to cost you money. As much as it is tempting to get the cash in, even when you know you are losing on the deal, it is an act of desperation that tends to end in tears. Eventually it will catch up with you and it surprising how many businesses send themselves broke by doing this.

Several years ago I did a job for a publishing company. They produced specialist magazines and books that they sold on subscription right around the world. They asked me to help them as business was tough, but their new subscriptions were good yet they still seemed to be going backwards. I spent an hour looking at the cost of their products etc and found that for every subscription they sold they were losing almost $100 over the year.

Now this business had sold in the vicinity of 20,000 subscriptions - so when you do the sums, clearly there were big problems. The subscriptions were priced way too low because that was the price the company thought they could sell them for, not what they should have charged. This compounding error almost sent them broke. We had to do some fancy footwork to get out of the crisis but luckily we did.

Another temptation in tough times is to lower your standards and expectations regarding your standard sales protocol. This may mean that you extend credit when you wouldn't normally, or that you give away more than is realistic, or that you over promise on time frames that you can't possibly deliver on simply so you can get the sale. In other words the sale is corrupted in some way that is bound to come back and haunt you.

My advice here is simple. Avoid the temptation associated with "getting the sale at any cost." From my experience and observations of many businesses, it leads to both short and long term issues that can destroy a business. Keep the sale clean, be certain that you are making a profit and don't compromise your standards. Instead focus on adding value, servicing your customers better and being innovative and professional in all that you do.