Selling in today’s environment is chaotic; a well thought out sales process never proceeds precisely to plan. With the constant introduction of speed and disruptive change, market-altering technological innovations and clients’ exasperation of constantly being sold to with products that have no differentiation other than price all contribute to the frustration of business leaders.
Business leaders must embrace a different approach and take these realities into account and enable their organizations to thrive in their mist. Business leaders and more importantly sales business leaders must comprehend that selling is a competitive engagement and being ready to compete for more than having a product and position functions and features to a client. Being prepared to compete is a state of mind with the ultimate objective of beating the competition with focus and unpredictable moves that concentrate on their weakness and interrupt their ability to analyze what you are doing or respond effectively.
To keep your sales process moving forward through all the ups and downs of the campaign. It is essential that you first establish a sales strategy that keeps you focused on activities which allow you to make correct decisions. Strategy generally involves setting goals, determining actions to achieve the goals, and mobilizing resources to execute the moves.
There are four different sales strategies (Head-On, Round-About, Territory, Stall) a salesperson should consider before entering the sales cycle. Each has its benefit and desired outcome based on the situation you are competing. These strategies can increase your win-rate if you apply them against the competition and understand what strategy they are deploying.
The most common Strategy deployed is the Head-On strategy. This strategy should be used if you have the product superiority over the competition recognized in the industry not your opinion of your product. Competing on function and feature as most salespeople do will place you as a me-too and the client will side with the recognized leader or will decide on price if you were successful in getting the client to view you as an equal with the leader. If you wish to deploy the Head-On Strategy, you must have recognized industry superiority in a product/service, installed incumbency, company reputation or any combination as viewed by the client. If nothing about your company, product/service or installed base sets you above the competition, you should jettison the Head-On Strategy.
An alternative strategy to consider if you do not have superiority is the Round-About strategy. This strategy evokes a need to change the rules on how a decision is to be made. To deploy the Round-About you must establish your strengths against the competition’s weakness. Keep in mind that you must do this for each of the competitors if you expect to increase your win-rate. The approach is to establish your strength as a requirement for the client when making their final decision. This strategy also requires the salesperson to determine the key relationships buying criteria in the opportunity and get them to position your strength as a requirement for decision. When you deploy this strategy, you must have a clear understanding of the tactics you will use and be comfortable with making a few waves in the client environment. Relationship skills are the necessary ingredient for this type of strategy to change the rules and keep you in the sales process, not function and feature positioning.
The third strategy a salesperson may choose is called the Territory strategy. This strategy works well for those companies who do not have superiority in a market but have a complementary product/services addressing a portion of the market that industry leaders are not satisfying. When deploying this strategy, you must be cautious, knowing that you are poking a stick in a beehive. You must fully understand your position in complementing the market area while not threatening the industry leader. When you are successful with this strategy, you will be able to penetrate an incumbent and start to erode his base. However, beware that if the incumbent thinks that you are a threat, they will unleash all their energy to eliminate you. This strategy requires a finesse of product/service positioning, relationship development, and the ability to plan for unpredictable situations to be successful.
The fourth and final strategy that a salesperson may use is called the Stall strategy. This strategy is a defensive strategy only and can be used if you decided that none of the above strategies will produce the desired result. This strategy intends to have the sales process postponed giving time to compete or stop the growth of your competition. Keep in mind that executing this strategy will cost you time and money with no immediate revenue so choose wisely.
Every sales situation is unpredictable, and a competitive threat is not unique, however, having a sales strategy is a step in the right direction. Being capable of employing them all, to choose the correct one at the proper time and, execute them effectively will increase win-rates.
If you are having issues and challenges with your revenue engine, FHS Associates stands ready to address your concerns. Contact us at FHS Associates to begin your business improvement!