Author: Sean O'Shaughnessey

The 5 Basic Sales Strategies – part 2 of 5 – Flanking

The 5 Basic Sales Strategies – part 2 of 5 – Flanking

This is the second part of my series discussing the five basic sales strategies. To remind you of the list, they are:

  1. Frontal
  2. Flanking
  3. Fragment
  4. Defend
  5. Develop

Every sales manager and salesperson should be familiar with these strategies. They should understand which approach they should use in various situations.

2. Flanking

A flanking strategy shifts the focus of the customer’s buying criteria to new or different issues that favor your solution. It means you are not playing by the rules. You are taking a completely different approach then your competitors expect.

The challenge with a flanking strategy is that you need to truly understand the dynamics of the prospect. You must understand both the personal and organizational needs. It can only be used with opportunities where the salesperson has an influential inside advisor (a Coach). Ultimately, the strategy needs a strong Champion. The strategy requires you to have multiple value propositions that are relatively unique to your offering.

Trappers and Gatherers excel at this strategy. They tend to be the most efficient at convincing the customer to include other criteria. This extra criterion was not immediately obvious to the initial decision-making team. Trappers and Gatherers innately understand the prospect’s internal politics and long-term goals. This understanding is the power of a flanking strategy. The goal is to remind the customer of a more extensive set of issues than just the immediate need to purchase a specific type of product or service.

A Farmer salesperson rarely uses this type of strategy effectively. As the Farmer increases his or her individual sales skills, the use of flanking becomes more natural, and the Farmer evolves into a Trapper.

A Hunter salesperson will rarely use a flanking strategy initially. The Hunter may turn to it after the successful use of a different approach such as Fragment. It usually takes too much innate knowledge of the prospect to pull off for a Hunter that has just recently started calling on the company.

If you don’t know what a Hunter, Gatherer, Farmer or Trapper is, you should read my book. You may purchase my book Eliminate Your Competition from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

Header Photo by O12 (Pixabay)

This post is the second in a series of posts covering the five basic sales strategies. I cover the five basic sales strategies in these posts:

The 5 Basic Sales Strategies – part 1 of 5 – Frontal

The 5 Basic Sales Strategies – part 1 of 5 – Frontal

There are five basic approaches to a sales campaign. Each strategy will work some of the time. Unfortunately, none of the strategies will work every time. Unless your product is currently unbeatable in the marketplace, you will have to be flexible in the chosen strategy.

  1. Frontal
  2. Flanking
  3. Fragment
  4. Defend
  5. Develop

Three “Fs” and two “Ds” are an easy way to remember this list. In school, these grades would have you fail the semester and kick you off the sports team. In sales, they are the key to your next series of steps to eliminate your competition and increase your commission.

Over the next 5 days, I am going to review each of these strategies. I hope you come back to read all five.

1. Frontal

A frontal strategy requires you to have a clear and concise advantage over your competition. This can be an overconfidence trap that you might temper when you lose a few crucial deals. It requires execution excellence, speed, or surprise to put you ahead. Because you must be front and center with your prospect, it is also resource-intensive. It requires that you are always pressing your advantage.

Unfortunately, the frontal strategy is the most often used and the easiest to defeat.

A frontal strategy is a direct approach due to your overwhelming superiority in solution, price, or reputation. It requires that the three things that you sell are all significantly better than everything else on the market.

Those three things are:

  • your product,
  • your company,
  • yourself.

If you look at this list from the bottom up, do you honestly think you are significantly better than the individual that you are competing against? I am sure you do feel superior but are you so much better that there is no question that you would beat them in every sales situation? If you really are that amazing, reach out to me (Twitter or LinkedIn) as I will want to hire you at my current company where I am the Chief Revenue Officer.

Continuing up the list, you should ask yourself the same question about your employer. Is your employer so amazing that it cannot be compared to any of your competitors?

Finally, at the top of the list is your product. It is quite possible that your product has leapfrogged all of the competition and there is no comparison. In this situation, you cannot ever lose because a truly superior product will overcome all of the deficiencies of your company and you personally. This does occasionally happen and selling this type of product is quite literally like taking candy from babies. However, you need to be very confident that this is the case because if your product superiority is not there, it is very possible that one of the other sales strategies will ensure that you eliminate your competition instead of your competition eliminating you.

The allure of the Frontal strategy is that it is obvious. It reminds you of a sporting event: you versus your competitor. Let the best package win. Unfortunately, most sporting teams eventually lose. So you risk your commission if you cannot produce a consistently superior package.

Because it is so apparent, it is the one strategy that you can execute if you know nothing about your prospect. For this reason, it is the most common strategy of Hunters. Hunters usually arrive at a deal when it is well underway by the prospect and they are actively looking for a way to achieve one of their goals. Because of the late arrival of a Hunter, it is effortless to fall into a frontal attack.

Conversely, a Gatherer and a Farmer will rarely use a frontal strategy. A Trapper will only use it when it is evident that the Trapper has an overwhelming advantage.

If you don’t know what a Hunter, Gatherer, Farmer or Trapper is, you should read my book Eliminate Your Competition which is available wherever books are sold. You may purchase my book Eliminate Your Competition from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

Header Photo by jarmoluk (Pixabay)

This post is the first in a series of posts covering the five basic sales strategies. I cover the five basic sales strategies in these posts:

Salespeople Need To Help Buyers With Their Emotions

Salespeople Need To Help Buyers With Their Emotions

I recently read an article that I think mischaracterizes the B2B buying behavior of individuals.

The article is titled “Rethinking Demand Creation” and it appears on Demand Spring. The author seems to imply that buyers are making an emotional decision first and then justifying it with logic. I do not believe that is true.

It is not that B2B buyers have a more personal attachment to the products. It is that their reputation within their community is more affected by their decisions. A bad decision by a team for a particular product will be remembered for years.

Things are often said around the coffee pot such as “I cannot believe Joe’s team actually bought that product. We shouldn’t let Joe’s team make any important decisions.” It is the fear of screwing up and be held responsible for years that affects them.

On the flip side is the positive aspects of a great decision. “Mike’s team really chose a great product for that project. It is saving everyone a lot of money and time. We should give Mike more responsibility.”

The latter part of the article actually gets to the right spot but it isn’t because “We then rationalize our decisions with the newest part of our brain, the neocortex” (quote from the article), but that buyers make a complete choice and they do weigh the value of not screwing up or if they will be handsomely rewarded for making a good decision.

So it isn’t about rationalizing the decision that a certain part of your buyer’s brain made. It is about trying to protect his/her personal reputation or enhance your standing in the work community.

These are valuable lessons. This is why in my book and on this site, I frequently explain that every salesperson must sell three things in every deal:

  • your product,
  • your company,
  • you.

While your product and your company will give the buyer the confidence in making a good decision, it is you that gives the buyer the confidence that his peers will respect him after the decision is made.

If you are not familiar with my book, you may purchase Eliminate Your Competition from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

Header Photo by AbsolutVision (Pixabay)
Tomorrow’s Path To Sales Productivity

Tomorrow’s Path To Sales Productivity

Solving Time Management problems is not only essential for efficiency’s sake – but it’s also one of the best ways to usher in an era of maximized sales.

Inefficient Time Management can cause a host of problems, not the least of which is lost money due to lack of time for the sales team.

Header Photo by nile (Pixabay)
This site is now ranked in top 100 sales blogs

This site is now ranked in top 100 sales blogs

I am pleased to announce that Feedspot has ranked this blog in the top 100 sales blogs.

Feedspot is a social feed reader compiling news feeds from online sources that user can customize and share with other social network users. Feedspot has over 100k influential bloggers in its database that are classified in more than 1500 niche categories.

Feedspot is a social network for RSS readers. It’s a fast, beautiful and simple way to keep up with all your favorite websites in one place and find new good ones.

7 Most Common Sales Objections (And How To Overcome Them)

7 Most Common Sales Objections (And How To Overcome Them)

I have been impressed with Marc’s vision and message for quite some time. He gave me permission to recreate some of his content here on my site and link to his recent video.

Read the text below the video, but please do watch the entire video. It is a great reminder in some of the basics that we simply forget in our day to day sales lives.

There are so many things that we can be doing both at the beginning, and the end of sales calls to both avoid these situations and to help overcome them. This video is going to show you the seven most common sales objections and how to overcome them.

Objection one: Your price is too high.

Objection two: I need to think about it.

Objection three: I need to run this by so and so.

Objection four: I can’t afford it. I can’t afford it.

Objection five: We’re already working with someone else.

Objection six: We don’t have the budget.

Objection seven: I’m too busy right now.

Marc also wrote a longer post on this topic that is worth your time to read. Jump over to it here.

You should also follow Marc on YouTube and Twitter.

Everyone Sells But Few Can Truly Sell

Everyone Sells But Few Can Truly Sell

We have all heard the line:

Everyone sells.

We have heard it over and over. It is typically combined with some cute anecdote about a child convinces his or her mother for an ice cream cone or a new toy or to stay up and watch a show.

Yes, we all have to convince another person to make a decision in our favor (the essence of sales) but that doesn’t mean that we do it well. Also, the story of the child never includes the number of times that Mom doesn’t buy the ice cream cone or the new toy.

I frequently talk about the failure rate of salespeople. I do not know of a single profession that fails as often as sales.

  • Pilots don’t fail as often (most planes take off and land just fine).
  • Accountants don’t fail as often.
  • Bakers don’t fail as often (most cakes and cookies taste great).
  • Taxicab drivers do not fail as often (most make sure their passenger arrives safely).

In fact, aside from some really tough stats for professional sports (where the truly best-of-the-best play), I cannot think of any other profession where failure is so endemic.

The sales profession is challenging. You need to work hard at it to succeed. You need to learn from the best. You need to improve your skills continuously. If you think you can sell since you are a hit at parties and have a lot of friends, you may soon find that you are a failure as a salesperson. Blunt truth: because the sales profession is so hard, you have to focus on doing everything in sales very well, or you will be considered a failure.

This recent poll by Salesforce.com re-affirms this issue. Most salespeople in that year did not expect to make their quota. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t make some sales. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t cover their specific costs.

It does probably mean that they didn’t make as much money as they hoped to make. In almost every salesperson’s mind, that means they failed.

This is why I wrote my book, Eliminate Your Competition. It is the only book that I know of that is written by a salesperson (me) for other salespeople rather than a sales trainer that stopped selling years (decades?) ago. Granted, I have moved to a sales management role today, but I am still making sales calls every week. I am still driving revenue for my company using the same tools that I talk about in my book.

If you want to get better at sales, I suggest you read my book. You may purchase my book Eliminate Your Competition from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.