Every CEO I’ve talked to in the last five years wants their sales force to think and act more strategically.  Why don’t they?  Most salespeople don’t know the difference between sales strategies and sales tactics.

Here are my definitions:  Strategy:  How you position and align yourself prior to the opening moves of the sales game.  Tactics:  The moves you make in front of the prospect.

Unfortunately, most sales people book appointments and “Show up-Throw up”.  (Presenting the same pitch, the same way, about ratings, rates, frequency, demographics…blah…blah…blah.)

You can choose from two strategic approaches when selling: Offensive and Defensive strategies:  Defensive strategies work when you’re trying to protect business you’ve already won.  Offensive strategies help you win new (steal) business from your competitors.  

Here is a summary of his five Offensive strategies:

Direct:  You go head to head against a competitor to win on shear advantage.  In order to be successful with a direct strategy you must have at least a 3:1 advantage over your competition.  (Frankly, few really do.)  The CEO dilemma: 95% of sales people use a direct strategy…and most of the time it’s the wrong approach.  How do you know if your people fall into this trap?  Their prospects will attempt to compare you to others… As a result, buyers force your salespeople into the trap of the lowest common denominator: price.  So you chalk their losses up to “win some/lose some”.  

Sad.  When sales people use a flawed strategy they will always fall into that trap.  TIP:  When you hear about price objections from your salespeople, you can bet they used the wrong strategy.

Re-Direct:  Battle planners call this a flanking or guerilla strategy.  Given a non-dominant position, this strategy proves successful.  Re-Direct strategies work when buyers try to force you into commodity status, or when you are compared head to head and don’t have an overwhelming advantage.  Re-Directed strategies Re-Direct the buyer’s buying criteria onto those for which you are advantaged.  

Divide and Conquer:  Use this strategy when you have an opportunity to split the sale into pieces and start small.  Although effective some situations, this strategy is extremely dangerous when misapplied.  

Delay:  Works when you get into the sales game late or if you are losing.  Create a valid business reason for the prospect to slow down and back up in their buying process to allow you time to catch up.  Combine this with a Re-Direct strategy to yank business away from the competitor who thought they had the deal won.

No-Go:  Use this strategy to walk away from bad business early.  Often when you tell a prospect you’ve “disqualified them”, they’ll pull you back in, usually on your terms.

Think Strategically to Create an Uneven Advantage (In Your Favor)