Hope is Not a Strategy By Rick Page (Read October 2006)

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Hope is Not a Strategy

By Rick Page (Read October 2006)

“Some sales people make things happen, some watch things happen, and some wonder what is happening. The difference lies in having a strategy and leading a team to execute it effectively. “ (Chapter 12)
“The secret to selling complex sales is simple: Its about building relationships with the right people. Knowing their pain. Solving their problem. Earning their trust. Relationships are based on 3 foundations: Competence, Charisma, and Character. Its what you do, who you know and who you are! “ (Chapter 17)


Chapter 1- Out of Control

Competitive advantage comes from training and execution.

Strategy is made up of actions and tactics that convert visions to results for those that can make things happen.
The missing link between a repository of customer information and competitive advantage is a sales process that prompts the salesperson for the political, competitive, and consultative information early enough to drive an account strategy that leads to trust for the buyer for the company you work for, its products, services, and people.
Buyer’s preferences for integrated solutions, rather than products, require teams of multiple sellers both inside and outside the vendor organization to help clients understand the benefits and differences in complex products or services. Who do you know that the buyer also knows that can help…
You know a sale is dead when your calls are not returned, you do not have access to the higher ups at a client, new requirements are given to you late in the buying process, or client wants more time to analyze…
If business pain, [objective(s) clients are solving for] or political power for sponsorship at a company are missing from the first part of your pitch a deal will always just sit on a pipeline report. Ask questions to move a deal along to the next stage or get it out of the forecast, move on to a deal you can control. You always should be pitching qualified prospects, not unqualified ones…
Proposals don’t sell, people do.
The key to consultative selling is to determine client needs first. It is even better if you help them determine what their needs are… Then you are part of the process, and have the best probability of getting part or the entire budget.
It is almost impossible to give a tailored, focused presentation if you haven’t spent time face to face with the client before the presentation.
Clients never come out and tell you that you will not get the sale. It is to the client’s advantage to keep sellers in the dark, and talk with multiple vendors. It allows them to show they did their due diligence, allows for price leverage, gives a safety net, boost their knowledge of your competitors.
Misinformation is a critical part of the complex sale. Never take any one persons opinion, If you do, you’ll be a perpetual victim. Information must be crosses checked, and triangulated by multiple sources to get to the real truth, and to find out who has it and who does not.
Questions for sales managers to ask their sellers to find chances of getting a deal done:

  • Did we help generate the program requirements?

  • Was our point of entry at the client with a junior or senior person?

  • Did we show our competitors weaknesses if they presented first?

  • Did we have a team strategy session prior to the presentation?

  • Did we provide case studies or show programs that worked on our sites?

Chapter 2- What Makes Today’s Complex Sale Complex?

Sellers need to have a better understanding of client’s businesses, and the ability to work collaboratively to solve business problems rather than to sell products.

Selling solutions means reducing risk by taking responsibility for service, integration, customization, implantation, or other process that solves for the entire client problem, and not just part of the problem
The gateway to repeat business and account management is performance. Unless we can exceed most expectations of most clients and delight a few we cannot build a foundation of customer loyalty.
Many times we need to sell through other people who do not report to the media buyer, or media team. Keeping all people informed of the strategy and focused on the right issues requires leadership, and effective communication.
There are 4 levels to b2b sales. The basic level is individual selling, across the desk from your main contact, followed by selling to the opportunity, selling to the account or enterprise, and at the top of the pile is selling a product/service to an entire industry. This is more for software type sales than media, but a good way to understand different target audiences.
Chapter 3- The Competitive Evaluation

The selling process that leads to qualification by the buyer(s) is predominately rational, logical, and based on the facts; the selection stage is mostly intuitive and based on impressions.

Political pressure rises when a client must make a decision where multiple stakeholders have not reached a consensus. Not everyone is on the same page at the time a final decision would be ideal.
Opportunities stall because neither business pain or power sponsors are present to drive the opportunity into a sale. Nobody inside the client organization can sell the proposal internally and deliver a value proposition strong enough to cause anyone to take action. The risks of changing become to rise; no one can sell the CFO or the decision makers; and the deal comes to a stalemate. Quite often salespeople don’t recognize what is happening in this situation. Without good info from the inside the buying committee, sales people often cruise along until they get the bad news too late to do anything about it. This is when the deal does out of control. The first step in gaining control is to get control of ourselves. We must build our sales team with the right talent in the right job for each account.

Chapter 4- Talent and Team Selling

Getting the right talent in the right job, and making sure we have the right type of seller calling on each client is key to sales effectiveness.

The seven generations of selling correspond to the seven patterns of client buying behavior. Often a large company will have clients in all types. A sales model that matches talent and technique to the way that the client buys allocates resources where they will have the greatest effectiveness.
Seller Buyer

Industry Networked Consultant Network

Partner Partner

Business Developer Sponsor

Farmer Repetitive

Hunter Competitive

Seller Competitive

Teller Competitive

In early stages of growth, companies frequently need prospecting or hunting sales people to build share. As solution becomes bigger, complex, or high-tech experts and support people become involved in sales process. In smaller companies sales people fill multiple roles. Challenge is to get the right people in the right place each time. Need to be able to understand all sales models to make sure all advantages are leveraged.
10 points for sales managers to make sure sales talent is deployed in best way

  1. Different levels of selling require different methodologies and talent

  2. Depending on your size and solution you may have people in all roles on a sales team, but not the right people in the right jobs

  3. Everyone on the team should grow their skill set from teller to consultative seller. Want to be able to have way to make sure we have the greatest knowledge of customer issues at all times.

  4. 3 paths to partner selling: client path, consultative path, and competitive path

  5. Not all sales people are willing or able to grow to next level

  6. Allocate sales team resources according to how the customers buy

  7. Don’t put tellers or farmers into competitive sales situations without hunters

  8. Don’t have hunters farming non-competitive, small order, repeat order deals

  9. As account managers or internal sponsors leave/turnover client relationships can be wiped out

  10. Make sure everyone working on the account knows the sales strategy and plan

Tellers- Feel they can simply explain enough features to the client. However, they leave linage to benefits from features to the buyer. Not a good idea…

Consultative Sellers- The best sales people are not the best talkers. They are the best listeners and find the need before they present a solution. The best sellers are asking questions that begin with who, how, what, why, when and where… At the beginning of a sale it is all about the discovery process.
*Even if the seller knows what the client’s problem is, it doesn’t matter. What matters is getting the client to admit the problem, to say it out loud. When a buyer admits a problem they open up, and share the pain. By doing this, buyers become more receptive to suggestions and solutions. There is now a dialogue going on… The translation of this to the day to day is this: Probe and listen before you present. Do a needs analysis or survey before every presentation. Consultants do this all the time, for them the solution is defined by the problem.
Hunters- Hunters make things happen. They understand how to defeat the competitor’s strategy and product. They are at their best when they face competition and obstacles. They pick the right battles, have a good nose for politics, they know how to deal with the client as an organization, not just with the individuals involved. The weakness of hunters is that they are often not focused on repeat business. They are more about deal management than account management. In complex sales, this can be a negative. This usually happens in public companies with short term focus on quarterly goals.
Farmers- Farmers used to be caretakers. This is more of a seller that provides on site support… However, they need to deliver and document results and in the process make higher and wider contact at a company and sell between the sales. They are also listening posts who can gain the high ground to create preference for their company and solution before an evaluation ever happens.
Business Developer- BDers can stimulate dormant or latent business problems into buying action for a solution. They know that if requirement are already defined the first step is over, and a competitive evolution is coming. They take the latent problem and show a vision of what life would be like if they could solve it, along with the vision of the bad things if the problem does not get solved. This creates a gap of where the client is and could be. They also quantify ROI. They find a sponsor in the company with enough power to whom this gap is politically painful and emotional. Pain does not come from a problem, it comes from political embarrassment or chance for glory. No pain, no change.
The Partner-

When done properly it is about transforming the adversarial buyer-seller relationship to one of collaboration and to co-managing the clients business as a trusted advisor. The essence of partnering is trust: Trust in product, service, the company and individual. If you respond to a clients request and don’t understand the business problem you are being asked to solve then at best if you get the business you are going to get in a commodity fashion. If you understand the higher level business problem however, you can help your client co-manage their business, and you can move up the value chain from commodity vendor to preferred vendor to strategic partner, building trust with your client and advantage over your competitors. A consultative sales person must look beyond the customer’s needs to the customer’s customer. It means collaborating on product design, joint marketing, supply chain and efficiency, problem escalation and quality. If preferred vendors status is to be achieved, company-to-company trust must be built over the long term. It means linking agendas and staying in the win-win position. Not every prospect out there I s a candidate for a partnering relationship. It is a function of corporate values and culture. There are some companies whose culture simply will not allow them to partner. Until they change at the top, they will always have an adversarial relationship with vendors. If they do not partner with anyone else, this is a sign they will not partner with you.

By tracing a purchasing requirement back to its strategic problem source, you can either validate or disconnect its importance. And by solving the bigger problem you can command better value and better margins as well as gain access to executives who can shorten sales cycles. Consequently unless you are a dedicated large account manager with just one or a few accounts, you must choose a couple of accounts in your territory to invest this type of relationship while you make your short term number with the rest. But if your year with a couple of “annuity accounts” you can have a head start on achieving your goals.
Industry-Networked Consultant-

This type of sales professional has executive and operational contacts built over the years throughout an industry and is seen as an advisor and resource by executives. These salespeople are recognized for what and whom they know. This type of person develops their own “Brand Loyalty”. Industry networked consultants speak at industry conferences and are quoted in trade magazines. They help executives find partners, vendors, personnel, and financing. Because of their top down approach they are not engaged in many competitive evaluations.

Total Sales Force Effectiveness

4 elements: Technique, Talent, Teamwork, and technology

Technique- 4 levels of selling. Face to face training is skills based and the foundation, since all sales strategies at the tactical level involve persuading someone. Opportunity and account mngt. Methodologies must be complete, concise, and integrated. They must be concise enough that they will actually be used by the sales force with a minimum of writing, yet complete enough to provide a winning sales plan. They must include consultative, competitive, political, and team selling dimensions in order to win.
Talent- The seven different talent levels we have identified correspond to seven buying styles of the client. A sales team may have people in each role assigned to an account. For mngt the answer is to profile the skills and knowledge for each job, hire to that profile, and have training processes to help people grow from one level to the next.
Teamwork- Strategy can’t live in the head of 1 person on the team. A consistent process that addresses all phases of the sales cycle must be used throughout an organization. Also, compensation, territory design, reward systems, and revenue split policies should encourage collaboration- or you will find that your biggest competitor is yourself.
Technology- Need tech to communicate the sales strategy to the rest of the team if each player is to understand their role. Each opportunity in the forecast needs to be understood. Sales force automation is a must. However, automated contacts and forcecasts without effective competitive sales plans beneath them will only enable the adding of bad numbers faster.
Individual Development Plan

1) Personal Value Chain

What objectives do you have to develop or maintain yourself as an industry or management expert? What reading or education plans do you have for the coming year?
Does your client see you as a trusted advisor for issues outside your product or service? What are your plans to move yourself up their value chain? How do you plan to influence their mind share?
To what professional assoc. do you belong? What plans do you have in this area in the coming year (speeches, articles, attendance, committees?)
Have you been published in a magazine or trade periodical? Is this a part of your plan?
2) Political Navigation

Who do you need to meet in the next year in your account/company/industry, and how do you plan to gain access? What objective do you have for that relationship?

Do you keep a database of your network? Do you proactively keep contact?
3) Performance

What activities do you plan to increase client satisfaction in your account?

4) Strategic Pain

What ongoing research do you plan to keep up with executives and industry issues in your account?

5) Teamwork

What plans do you have to develop your personal network inside your own company?

6) Relationships

What social activities do you plan with your client? To what social activities have they invited you? What other relationship building activities do you plan?

Chapter 5- The Arsenal of Competitive Advantage


  1. What capabilities and differentiators are we counting on to win?

  2. How does that link to the client’s issues?

Different customers buy different kinds of value. Competitive advantage falls into 3 categories: Low price, value differentiated, or focused on a niche market.

Because each buyer will buy from a company for different combination of reasons it is important that a sales person understand the arsenal of potential differentiators from which they can draw. The richness of this arsenal is determined by the marketing strategy, innovation, and investment of the firm.
Sales team- Trust, differentiation, Strategy, Linkage, Expert product or industry knowledge, Executive presence, strategic literacy
Industry focus- Industry expertise & network, Market share, Tailored solutions

Product/Solution- Functionality, Features, Technology, Quality, Value, Ease of use, Availability, Brand loyalty, Advertising, Price, Speed

Service- Service, Responsiveness People, Customer satisfaction, Results, Performance
Partners- Alliances, Channels, Distributors
Company- Brand loyalty, Financial stability, Reputation, Quality, Other products, Experience
The ability to perform linkage of solutions to business problems is so powerful that often it means you don’t always need product superiority to win (Although a sales force does need a playable hand) You simply need one capability connected to one powerful person at the right time in order to win. This is how you can outsell or be outsold.
Done well, however, linkage to strategic issues creates not only competitive advantage but also higher value and usually a larger more profitable deal. Thus it is often easier to win a large deal than a small one- if you sell the right issues to the right people.
Ready, Aim, Fire

The role of marketing and product design is to give a sales force as large an arsenal of advantages and benefits as possible. The role of the sales force is to link those differentiated capabilities into the personal and professional pains of each buyer individually. By the time a sales force figures out how to sell a new product, often the competitor has already reacted. The answer is a fast, replicable process for delivering benefits maps, value propositions, product information, and differentiators to the field.


Chapter 6- R.A.D.A.R- Simplifying the Complex Sale

RADAR stands for R.eading A.ccounts and D.eploying A.ppropriate R.esources.

Concentration of force is the first principle of strategy. Spreading yourself too thin means not concentrating resources on the sales you could win because you are spending time on lower quality prospects. Doing 90% of what it takes to win doesn’t result in 90% of the revenue- it results in zero. You must pick the battles you can win, then win the battles you pick. Sales people are busy but they don’t get paid to be busy. They get paid to win. A planning process for them must be complete enough to lead the team but concise enough not to slow them down. RADAR has 6 keys to winning a complex sales opportunity:

Challenges RADAR Process

Value 1. Link Solutions to Pain (or Gain)

Resource Allocation 2. Qualify the prospect

Competition 3. Build competitive preference

Strategy 4. Determine decision making process

Politics 5. Sell to Power

Teamwork 6. Communicate the Strategic Plan

5 of the steps are the inputs, the 6th is the plan. Effective sales people perform all simultaneously. The 1st step is to learn about the clients pains (or opportunities to gain) with a needs assessment. With this info you will learn enough to qualify the prospect for further investment as well as link our solution message to their business problems. As early as needs assessment (assuming not an existing account), we being to build competitive preference for our company, our solution, and ourselves with everyone we meet.
The more we know about the committee’s decision making process, the more effective our strategy will be; the more people with power involved who prefer us, the better our chances. The better our teammates understand our plan to win, the more accurate it will be and the more empowered they will be to leverage their efforts effectively.
The benefits for taking time to communicate a sales strategy include:

  • Increase competitive advantage from consistent, effective execution

  • Crystallizes your thinking and forces a decision

  • Provides early detection of blind spots and visibility into the future

  • Leads and empowers your team with a clear direction

  • Prioritizes the urgent from the important

  • Increases your ability to control and manage multiple accounts

  • Develops respect with peers and mngt.

Chapter 7- Key 1: Link Solutions to Pain (or Gain)


  1. Will the pain or opportunity cause them to buy at all? (Urgency)

  2. Can we solve their problem profitably? (Linkage)

  3. Can we solve it better than the competition? (Differentiation)

  4. Can we provide strategic benefits? (Value)

  5. Are requirements defined? By whom? (Politics)


  • Gaining Confession of the client’s need is the heart of consultative selling

  • Get the client talking by using questions that begin with who, what, why, where, and when

  • Understanding client needs is not the same as understanding client requirements

  • Don’t assume that a committee made up of multiple buyers speak with 1 voice

  • Personal agenda items must be uncovered

  • The simple “so what” test is critical to linking your benefits to the client’s needs

  • Identify operational, cultural, financial, political, and strategic pain

  • Sell strategic benefits to strategic buyers, tactical benefits to technical buyers

  • Strategic benefits trump technical and tactical benefits

  • The deeper you cut to strategic biz problems the higher you will rise on the value chain

What problem is the customer trying to solve? The art of convulsive selling is to get the customer talking in a one-on-one environment, sharing who they are and what they want. Consultative sales people learn early that the way to get the client talking is to use questions that begin with “who, what, why, where, or when”. This is a critical part of the sale when we begin listening and outcaring the competition, thus building the bonds of rapport that will eventually lead to trust. Even if we know what the pains are, it is not enough. The client needs to confess them. Confession is the beginning of behavior modification and for a consultant starts a sharing process that begins to build the bonds of trust. Then when we do present we can focus on the needs that have been expressed in the clients terminology with friends in the audience without being set-up by the competition.

The key questions at this point is in whose opinion? Every requirement either has a political sponsor or it doesn’t. Every requirement is either connected to a business problem or it is not. Not all sponsors have equal power and not all business requirements have equal impact. In the way that requirements are defined lie the seeds of discontent that will burst into a power struggle when clients can’t get everything they want from one vendor.
It is important to link features/capabilities to benefits. The feature is what you can do or what the product can do; the benefit is what it could do for me. People don’t buy drills because they want drills; they buy them because they want holes.
Not all pains or benefits are equal. In selling at the next level- to executives- we need to link capabilities up to the higher-level strategic benefits that execs seek. Get on the right wavelength of the buyer. Sell strategic benefits to strategic buyers and technical benefits to tactical buyers.
Pain doesn’t come from the business problem; pain comes from they political embarrassment of the business problem. If the pain or lost opportunity is not visible, then its not embarrassing and it will not drive business buying activity to a close.
If we are to create urgency to generate or close business, we must creatively take the invisible costs and make them visible and politically painful. We must put a price tag on procrastination.
If you want little dollars, solve little problems; if you want big dollars solve big problems.
Chapter 8- Key 2: Qualify the Prospect


  1. Is this good business for anyone?

  2. Is this a winnable opportunity for us?

  3. How does it compare to the rest of my opportunities


  • Pick winnable battles based on analysis rather than on emotion

  • There is no one mathematical process for qualifying prospects

  • How you qualify is relative to # of opportunities you have, # of resources available

  • The most important emotional and strategic issues are quite often not budgeted

  • Ask your self if the business will be profitable

  • Ask yourself if it will result in a satisfied client

  • Qualifying isn’t quitting

  • A good attitude is essential for selling but often an obstacle for qualifying

  • Most sales people don’t ask the tough questions because it will spoil a good forecast

Need to know when it is a go or no-go at several points during the qualification process

Chapter 9- Key 3: Build Competitive Preference


  1. Can we win?

  2. How do we win?

  3. If each person had to vote today, would they recommend us?

  4. What are our differentiators?

  5. How would the competition defeat us?


  • The first step in controlling an opportunity is establishing the political point of entry

  • The highest level of preference is trust

  • Build positive mind-share by positioning first with key influencers

  • Positioning is the art of saying it first

  • Once you establish a channel of communication with the executive, always leave a good reason to call back

  • The ideal point of entry is top down

  • People buy from people; establish a bridge of rapport and build bonds

  • You’ll only get as much vital competitive and political information as the relationship will bear

  • You can lose a good message through a bad messenger

  • Win their hearts before it starts

  • It is many times easier to help someone make up their mind the first place than it is to change it

  • What you thought was early in the sale probably isn’t early enough

Preference is the degree to which a recommender or influencer from a buying committee will oppose you or help you win.

Influence the issues, steer the process, identify the influencers
Chapter 10- Key 4: Determine the Decision Making Process


  1. How do they think they will decide? In whose opinion?

  2. How do you think they will decide?

  3. What part will each person play?

  4. When will they decide?

  5. What is the approval process?


  • Nothing is more important to driving an accurate strategy than understanding your client’s decision-making process

  • Project teams typically have a well defined evaluation process but not a well defined decision making process

  • Always remember, some peoples votes count more than others, know who these people are

  • A sales person must understand how a decision will be reached even more clearly than the client does

  • You must also understand the approval process once you have been chosen

  • Analyze each stakeholder based on pain, preference, power, and the part he or she plays in the decision making process

  • Don’t resort to price or discounts to create a sense of urgency

  • Commodification is avoided if you close on the client’s pain or time frame, not your own

  • In negotiation, power lies in alternatives, weakness in deadlines

Chapter 11- Key 5: Sell to Power


  1. Are there powerful people helping us?

  2. Who do we need to be calling on to earn this business?

  3. Who influences them?

  4. Who else might become involved?

  5. Who is helping our competitors?


  • Not all votes are equal in a complex sale

  • You can either ignore political activity in business decisions or learn to recognize and manage it

  • Power is invisible and it changes daily

  • Power and politics should be discussed privately with individuals, not in a group

  • Identify power holders early and build influence with them

  • Reciprocity is the currency of social and business capital

  • People can be influenced to do what you want if you can show how it gets them what they want

  • Influence is the ability to get things done without the use of authority

  • Many influential people lie outside the buying organization and are essential to leveraging strategy in the complex sale

  • Begin discretely mapping the zones of influence from your first meeting with the client

Chapter 12- Key 6: Communicate the Strategic Plan


  1. How do we plan to win?

  2. What do we sell to whom, where, when?

  3. Have we tested our plan?

  4. Do our tactics support our strategy?

  5. How could our plan fail?


  • Winning without a strategy is luck. Salespeople need to make their own luck

  • If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

  • Strategy is a plan to deploy resources in a way that brings your strength to bear on the opponents weakness

  • It is essential to strategize at the enterprise, opportunity, and individual levels

  • Strategies fail because of poor information or no strategy at all

  • Bad timing can also cause strategies to fail

  • Concentrate your efforts; don’t spread yourself too thin

  • Effective strategic planning is a cycle of continually reassessing information and re-validating your plan

  • Test your strategy on your own team

Luck favors the man in motion. Information drives strategy: You need to plan effectively and change decisively. Continuously hunt down bad news, better to know what needs to be corrected early on. Anticipate failure points, and strengthen them, this will allow for a much better plan later on. Competitive advantage comes from consistent execution faster than the competition.


Chapter 13- 16 Opportunity-level Sales Strategies

  1. How will we deploy resources?

  2. How will we defeat the competition?

  3. How will we gain commitment?

Sales strategies should fall out of marketing strategy, and marketing strategy is usually a model of historical military strategy

  1. Preemptive Strategies- Winning the battle before it starts.

      1. Demand creation rather than demand reaction- Good if you already have the account. Leverage account mngt.

      2. Ask for and seek an exclusive or sole source evaluation- Best if you have satisfied clients

      3. Align yourself with a power partner- Align with a partner that can offer a broader solution

      4. Walk away early- If the process is not fair, or you can’t truly show off what you have move on, especially if you pipeline is full

  1. Frontal Strategies- Direct assault, but only when you have superiority

      1. Sell the Product or proposal, Sell the Company Story, Go big

  1. Flanking Strategies- Bring strength against weakness. Need innovation, speed and surprise

      1. Changing the pain- Either find new issues to link to, higher issues that have not been connected to, or issues sponsored by more powerful people. It may also mean refocusing the client onto the more important issues

      2. Changing the Power- Either encourage your sponsors to exert power, bring in potential influencers who have not yet been part of process

      3. Changing the Process- Add or take out steps that allow you to demonstrate your strengths or expose the competitors weakness

      4. Linking Solutions or products- Attach your solution, technically or economically to clients current products or process

      5. Expand the Scope- Include products or services your competition cannot provide but the client can benefit from

  2. Fractional Strategy

      1. Divide and Conquer- Go after biz where others are weak, or do not want to have ownership of that sale due to size or ability…

      2. If you can’t get a loaf, get a slice- Take a small piece of biz if you cannot get the entire piece. This way you are able to sell from the inside out, and you might be able to isolate your opponents inside the account so they do not oppose you as well.

      3. Partnering Strategy- Companies team up to present a full solution, with each company taking on a certain piece

      4. Penetrate and Radiate- This is a key strategy for major accounts on a global basis. First you gain entry to one small part of the company, and then go division by division. Then you can change your strategy and go full frontal to the corp headquarters to gain full deployment as their standard.

  3. Timing Strategies

      1. Accelerate- Slow down or speed up process in way that it benefits you. If you are winning, speed up, and get the contract signed.

      2. Delay- If you are not winning, buy time. Delaying from a sales point of view means buying time until you can come up with either a frontal, flanking, or fractional strategy to win.

Chapter 14- Changing Issues & Time Based Sales Tactics


  1. What phase of the client’s decision making process are they in?

  2. What issues are important to them at what time?

  3. When can we change the issues to our favor?

The dynamics of the competitive, comparative buying evaluation can become volatile. Often even the most experienced salespeople fail because they do the right thing at the wrong time. The issues change in relative importance over a long sales cycle. Consequently, sales strategies should be time based, depending on the phase or stage of the sales cycle.

Some sales methodologies imply ther is one perfect strategy that should not be changed. The history of strategy has proven this wrong in war, business, and sales. The speed with which you can refine or revalidate a dynamic plan is the key to victory. By the time a long sale is won, you will probably be on plan D, E, or F.
Risk Rises- As the client approaches a decision to purchase, the post purchase implementation begins to rise as an issue… How do we install, use, track, report, etc….
Price Resurrected- Once the client decides that they are going to buy a certain solution and go into the last phase of a larger, integrated deal, a phase called acquisition, the rules change again, and price will come up… The real reason people ask for a discount, or better price is not because they are measured on it, but because they feel compelled as an agent of their company to put on their negotiation hats with the vague idea they will gain some political points for having driven a hard bargain. You must refocus these people off of the imagined political benefit and focus on benefits of the overall project. Need to focus on the profitability or other upside that comes along with doing the deal at the said price.
When trust is established, evaluation cycles can fall to zero
Solution companies fare better than companies that are positioned as product companies…
What to sell when- Time based strategies tell the sales team when to sell which issues to whom. In the beginning of an evaluation the client weighs certain issues and considers them important, but later in the decision making process their importance can change dramatically. Finally, in the acquisition phase a whole new set of requirements may evolve… Savvy business developers recognize these changing issues, and shift issues to their strengths. Without a dynamic strategy you will lose, and remember each sales is different. What happened in the past may not work now…
Early detection allows early correction- Most sales people do not ask the tough questions because they do not want to spoil a good sales forecast…. Seek bad news. You want it as early as possible. This way you can either change your strategy or sell somewhere else….

Chapter 15- Ten Individual-Level Strategies


  1. If they voted today, would we win?

  2. How do we get each person’s vote or live without it?

People buy from you not a company. A clear understanding of the decision making process at the stakeholder level, person by person on the project team will drive a strategy to win better than anything. By analyzing each stakeholder using four of the keys, Pain, Preference, Power and Part in the Process we can arrive at the individual level strategies and tactics of your strategic plan.

  1. Support & Motivate- Make those that like you/your product continue to do so

  2. Disconnect Opposition- Separate seller/product from current major business pain person that has a negative preference for us has…

  3. Refocus- Also for people with negative preference for us, help them and others see how our ability to solve the company’s issues is helpful.

  4. Raise Pain-

  5. Encourage people you know who like you to get involved

  6. Change part

  7. Ignore

  8. Change preference

  9. Get more senior people to Outvote others if they do not like you/your product

  10. Borrow influence

Without individual tactics, a plan is a strategy in name only

By mapping out the relationships of power, you can navigate from person to person and leverage your investment of time. Nothing shortens sales cycles more than selling high. We must learn not only how to gain access to executives, but what to say when we get there.

Chapter 16- Ten Individual-Level Strategies


  1. How can we gain access to the chief executives

  2. What is our point of entry into this account?

  3. What do we say when we get there?

  4. How do we get back?

The best way to avoid going over someone’s head is to start there…! Choosing your point of entry is an opportunity to gain better control early. If you do need to go over someone’s head get them on your side to help you navigate higher. To do so, you need to give this gatekeeper a reason that is on the higher level persons agenda…

People take you to their boss to: Gain recognition and glory, Secure resources, Mitigate risk, Project scope gets too big, Project scope gets too strategic toward solving bigger company issues, Allow your boss to meet their boss, Bargain for success, or you just ask…
In order to make things happen in the complex sale, we have to get out of our comfort zone and into the power zone.
The best way to get access to an executive is through another executive or a trusted collegue.
Technical benefits are important to those that have to use them everyday. Executives care about strategic, political, financial, and cultural items. Executives want partners that can help them run their companies better than carriers of products. If you learn the items that keep the executives up at night will get you on the right wave-length.
When going into a C level sales call know everything about the company, never ask, “Tell me about your company” Talk about benchmarks and best practices in the industry, Provide ideas and innovations, Create a vision of value, Differentiate yourself, Seek sponsorship, and find a way to get invited back or meet with this person again!


Chapter 17- From Opportunity Management to Account Management


  1. What is our overall plan for this account?

  2. Should we invest additional resources?

  3. How do we build company to company trust?

  4. Can we change their buying process?

  5. How can we earn preferred vendor status?

  6. Can we partner with this account?

A great sales person sells in a way that leads to trust and repeat business. Always find ways to sell between the sales. Creating a lifecycle sales plan that is based on in-depth understanding of the client’s business, objectives and sharing tactics to your account team worldwide.

A proactive, integrated enterprise account plan requires strategy at 4 levels. 1) After account penetration, 2) performance on the first opportunity is the next hurdle to an account mngt. model for selling repeat business. 3) Failure to exceed expectations or document value delivered can poison the account for future business. 4) However, earning the trust and reducing risk for powerful people can lead to a shorter buying process, referrals, or sponsorship to other executives throughout the enterprise or industry.

Key Thoughts for Any Media Sales Organization:

1) It is almost impossible to give a tailored, focused presentation if you haven’t spent time face to face with the client before the presentation.

2) Did we have a team strategy session prior to the presentation?
3) Selling ad solutions means reducing risk for the client by taking responsibility for account management, custom ad integration, and deal optimization.
4) We must build our sales team with the right talent in the right job for each account.
5) We must create or hire “Partner” and “Industry-Networked Consultant” sellers.


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