How to Devise an Unbeatable Sales Strategy
Think about the most important sales opportunity you are pursuing. Now, complete the following sentence:
The executive, whose career and company’s success or survival
depends on getting this purchase/acquisition/investment right, will buy
from me because ……..
If you can’t fill in the blank or aren’t 100% comfortable that you have the right answer, read on…
It’s a Buyers’ Market
Let’s take a look at some of the more general characteristics of what has become the new norm — a buyers’ market:
- Buyer insecurity over economy, geopolitical conflicts, government policies, etc.
- More options for the buyer with supply exceeding demand
- Reduced budgets
- Decisions made higher in organizations
- Desperate competition
- Single larger purchases reduced to multiple smaller ones
- Buyer concern and scrutiny over supplier viability and integrity
- Price a critical criterion
- Diminishing trust in brands
- Instability in buyer organizations
- Rapid ROI requirements
If you are effected by three or more of these market characteristics and you are selling the same way you did a year ago, it’s time to reconsider your approach.
Deriving a Sales Objective
The sales objective is no more complicated than stating (1) what you are going to sell your prospect, (2) for how much and (3) by when. You can’t realistically develop an achievable objective in a vacuum. It has to be derived from your in-depth assessment of this unique situation.
Devising a Winning Strategy
Winners leverage, rather than allow themselves to be encumbered by the new buying environment and prospect specific characteristics. It’s unlikely that you will be consistently successful using a “default” strategy for winning big deals. Every opportunity now has to be uniquely assessed, a sales objective derived from that assessment and a strategy devised for that opportunity, at that time, taking a multitude of conditions into account. Here are some more specific considerations:
- The prospect’s financial situation
- The prospect’s buying criteria
- The criticality of this purchase
- Specific ROI guidelines
- The position and political ties of the key buyer
- Your competition: how their product/service and company is perceived and how and to whom they sell in the account
- How your company, product/service and you are perceived in the account
- The people with whom you have made connections in the account
- The unique value that you and your company bring to the opportunity. (Same for the competition.)
- Your prospect’s culture, business philosophy relationships with other suppliers and buying tendencies
Here are ten strategy statements that were the basis of actual deals won by some of our clients last year:
- The prospect will buy from me because I will prove that we provide the lowest total cost of ownership.
- The prospect will buy from me because we will (and are in the best position to) guarantee the successful installation and implementation of my product on or before a defined date for a fixed price.
- The prospect will buy from me because we are the safest alternative.
- The prospect will buy from me because I will prove I have the best understanding of their business and the capability to contribute to their success going forward.
- The prospect will buy from me because we will deliver a customized solution based upon each customer’s unique needs and requirements.
- The prospect will buy from me because of the substantial and unparalleled business value that we will provide far and above our products.
- The prospect will buy from me because we provide the highest quality after-sale support and service.
- The prospect will buy from me because we have the most stable technology platform.
- The prospect will buy from me because I will leverage board-level relationships to validate our capabilities.
- The prospect will buy from me because I will propose my solution in phases to accommodate their budget constraints.
Remember that each and every one of these strategy statements was created after a thorough and objective assessment of the prospect’s unique formal and informal requirements, goals, challenges, preferences, decision processes, people and supplier alternatives.
Here are some do’s and don’ts relating to strategy development.
- Create a unique strategy for every opportunity.
- Make sure that what you are counting on to win has measurable and important value to your prospect and that it is either unique or indisputably superior to that of your competitor.
- Create a series of events, tactics, presentations, meetings, etc. all of which will contribute to driving forward your strategy.
- Include the capabilities of your competition as they are perceived by your prospect.
- Completely understand the prospect’s buying criteria and decision process before deriving your objective and devising your strategy.
- Begin executing tactics without a strategy.
- Be ambiguous or indecisive in your strategy statement. Phrases like “we can,” rather than “we will,” make a difference in intent and execution.
- Depend on something a competitor can do just as well to win.
- Build a strategy based upon downplaying a competitor’s weakness. Focus only on your strengths.
Winners are still winning. They’ve adapted to the new buying environment. They aren’t depending on what worked in the past. They are developing new strategies to win new deals with new customers.