If I had invested a pound for everytime I had heard that, I would be writing this from the upper deck of a Sunseeker superyacht and not the more modest view of the woods from my study. I guess my point here is that I have heard it rather a lot.

Now I am not here to rubbish the idea of incentives, on the contrary, if executed well and as part of an overall marketing strategy, I know they can work. Nor am I here to dismiss my fellow sales colleagues, who are typically the ones that drive the need for one. But I am here to question why it has become the defacto for when sales volumes aren’t quite where they ought to be.

In my humblest opinion, if it has got to that point, it has often been a long time in the making and perhaps the right time to step back, albeit it briefly, and sanity check the overall strategy and not just look for tactical sticky plasters.

Yes, an incentive might well just spike sales, create a false comfort and keep the powers that be off your back, but equally, they could do no end of harm to the brand, mask the real [bigger] issues and tie up resource, time and energy, otherwise best spent elsewhere.

Wouldn’t time be better spent prodding and poking the ‘why’ of why are sales down? Not a long drawn out process, but a quick check of the market, competition, pricing, suppliers, internally and so on. Ask around.

Can any insight and intel be gathered to build an accurate picture that informs decision making? Have your competitors lowered their prices? Is there a new product in town? Has new legislation been brought in? Is someone running a promotion? Are your sales team motivated? All of these factors can and will have a bearing.

If you can convince me you have explored all of these questions and many more besides, then I will consider an incentive, but only and only if all other options have been exhausted.