Ulrich Hansen’s story raises several questions: When should you engage or disengage from an opportunity? And if you engage, which strategy should you
? The right answers can lead to improved win odds, realized sales forecasts, and increased sales revenue; the wrong answers can lead to increased selling costs, missed sales forecasts, and low
. You must decide whether to stay and compete, or disengage and move on. The cost of doing business today is too high and selling resources are too limited to
every opportunity that comes along.
In the past, Solution Selling focused on strategies dealing with latent, or Not Looking opportunities. Today, that’s not the case. Solution Selling has been enhanced to better assist salespeople in the competitive world of active or Looking opportunities. I am a firm believer that you should evaluate every active opportunity that’s out there. I also firmly believe that you will not win them unless you deploy the right competitive strategy and tactical plan, which
me to the famous Chinese general and philosopher Sun-Tzu.
Sun-Tzu’s book The Art of War (Sun-Tzu Ping-Fa) is the oldest account of
military strategies and tactics of
. Though he lived long ago (ca. 400–320 b.c.e. ), his strategies and tactics still apply and are studied in modern business management, and his book is required reading in many business
. Sun-Tzu regarded war as a road either to safety or to ruin, a matter of life and death, and a subject that cannot be neglected. He talked about when to fight and when not to do so and which strategy to use.
Selling is like that too. I regard sales as a road either to safety or ruin, a matter of success or failure, and a subject that cannot be neglected. We must be aware of the consequences of poor planning,
selling actions, and careless personnel. Deciding when to compete and selecting the right selling strategy are crucial to success in the
PREEMPT THE COMPETITION, GET THERE FIRST
Get there first; set the buying requirements; become Column A. Preempt the competition. That’s the best strategy and the best advice I can give salespeople when it comes to winning in competitive environments. I realize that deploying this strategy may not always be possible, but there is one thing I know for sure: it cannot work unless you try.
Often we find
in situations where the competition has established itself in Column A. When we do, we have to take action to replace the competition. Can you still win if you didn’t define the problems and create the vision? Can you win if you’re Column B or C? What does it really take to
someone in Column A? This chapter answers those questions.
When a buyer phones or sends you an RFP announcing that he or she is in the market for what you have to sell, it’s very enticing to
, to respond, to immediately begin selling. We fail to recognize that the buyer has a vision, and it’s not one we helped create. Don’t be too anxious to walk into this minefield. Step back and assess the situation.
It’s difficult to compete against a competitor who is already in Column A. Remember, the research indicates that those companies and salespeople who are in Column A win more than 90 percent of the time. One of my largest
, IBM’s Software Group, tracked its results worldwide and
the findings. IBM’s results showed that 93 percent of the time some other company won the business if IBM did not define the problems and set the requirements.
The lesson is clear: if another competitor is first choice, your
of winning are slim—about 10 percent. Put another way, you stand a 90 percent chance of losing. The staggering fact is that salespeople
most of their time and efforts on situations they didn’t create and where they have less than a 10 percent chance of winning. If you find yourself engaging in this practice, stop the insanity.