Category: Habit of a Successful Salesperson

The 5 Basic Sales Strategies – part 5 of 5 – Develop

The 5 Basic Sales Strategies – part 5 of 5 – Develop

This is the fifth and last 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. The sales team should understand which approach they should employ in various situations.

5. Develop

A develop strategy establishes a position for possible future engagements. It is used when you know that there is genuine potential in the account, but it is not ready to move forward at this time. In this case, it is vital to establish credibility with the prospect to take advantage of a future change of priorities.

I frequently talk on these pages as well as in my book, Eliminate Your Competition that you as a salesperson are selling three things:

  • your product,
  • your company,
  • yourself.

Being in develop mode means you have time to build the credibility of the latter two before the prospect realizes that they need the first one.

There are times when the prospect’s prioritization of pains versus goals do not allow the spending of money. This situation is where the develop strategy is used most often. While other sales philosophies will talk about identifying a prospect’s pain, that is simply not enough. There is a lot of pain in any given organization, but most people simply tolerate the pain. It is only when the organization has a goal of eliminating that pain that they will spend money. Identifying pain is simply not enough, you must create a goal to eliminate the pain.

Hunters despise this strategy. They will seldom use it. Their goal is not to have long, drawn-out sales campaigns. A prospect that is not ready to move forward simply slows down the Hunter.

Farmers and Gatherers relish this strategy. The difference between them and Trappers are the tools to develop a prospect into a customer. Typically, a Gatherer or a Farmer will wait for the customer to realize the pain needs to be solved.

A Trapper puts every account in his/her target list into the develop strategy. When a prospect starts to be interested in achieving a goal, the Trapper will evolve the approach to one of the other strategies.

This is the final post in my series of the five main sales strategies. I hope it made you think a little bit. I also hope it gave you some ideas to close that next deal.

If you don’t know what a Hunter, Gatherer, Farmer or Trapper is, you should read my book Eliminate Your Competition. 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 geralt (Pixabay)

This post is the fifth 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 4 of 5 – Defend

The 5 Basic Sales Strategies – part 4 of 5 – Defend

This is the fourth 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.

4. Defend

A defend strategy protects your position from the inevitable assault from your competitors. It almost goes without saying that you need to be a vendor to the company to apply this strategy. The company must be a customer and not a prospect.

To effectively use this strategy, the salesperson must develop high-level customer relationships. Even if the original purchase was transacted at lower levels, the salesperson must take steps to move higher in the organization. This is not something that can be accomplished at the last minute. The wise salesperson will immediately start increasing executive conversations. This should happen almost from the minute the first deal is closed.

Remind these executives and their subordinates of the benefits that they are receiving by using your product. This sets the stage for defending your position when the inevitable competitor tries to come in and eat your lunch.

Also, you must be aware of changing conditions (especially organizational changes) that would hurt you. Any executives that may be replaced may allow your offering to be discounted in favor of a competitor. By continuously building your value at all levels of the organization, you will protect yourself when change happens. An organizational change could introduce a competitor’s friend into a position of influence.

Gatherers are the most frequent user of this sales strategy. I explained in my book that a Gatherer that does an effective job of using the defend strategy can be almost impossible to unseat.

Farmers can use this strategy, but the reality is that a Farmer that executes this strategy is far more likely to be a Gatherer than a Farmer.

Hunters rarely use this strategy. Almost by definition, a Hunter is not spending time with existing customers. In the event, that a natural Hunter has some existing customers, they are likely acting more like a Gather, Farmer, or Trapper than a Hunter.

Trappers will use the defend strategy combined with another approach. They will defend their installed base as I describe above. Trappers will also aggressively use one of the other four strategies to grow their presence in the account.

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 johnhain (Pixabay)

This post is the fourth 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 3 of 5 – Fragment

The 5 Basic Sales Strategies – part 3 of 5 – Fragment

This is the third 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. Everyone should understand which approach they should use in various situations.

3. Fragment

The fragment strategy is a great strategy when you are politically weak in an organization. It is also useful when your product is not as full-featured as other products. Younger companies should consider using a fragment strategy in most sales situations.

A fragment strategy divides the opportunity into smaller pieces and focuses the customer on a subset of the issues that you can address. It is a “divide and conquer” strategy. It is mainly used to get your foot in the door or to bypass direct competition from stronger competitors.

Every salesperson should understand this strategy. It is very effective at gaining a foothold in target accounts. It is far easier to sell more to a customer that is already happy with you, then it is to convince a brand new prospect. The fragment strategy helps get that first order.

The strategy depends on the salesperson identifying specific unique features within the product. He or she then explains the related benefits to individuals at the prospect that are primarily focused on the reduced goals. It is essential to bypass the main decision-making group and focus on targeted people.

A Hunter salesperson will often resort to this strategy if the Frontal strategy is ineffective. This is probably the second most used strategy. It allows them to achieve some success in the face of more entrenched competition.

A Farmer salesperson will also use this strategy effectively. It is almost the preferred method for Farmers because they thrive on understanding the needs of a few individuals.

A Gatherer will resort to a variation of the fragment strategy because of her relationships with the account. In the face of a superior competitor, a Gatherer will try to segment off part of the evaluation that is suited to her product. She will convince the customer that this smaller win combined with the long term relationship of the Gatherer is enough for the account.

A Trapper will use this strategy effectively whenever it makes sense to eliminate the competition.

If you don’t know what a Hunter, Gatherer, Farmer or Trapper is, you should read my book Eliminate Your Competition. 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 wilhei (Pixabay)

This post is the third 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 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)
Good Managers Make You Better

Good Managers Make You Better

My very good friend and respected sales professional, Dean Wiener, published this post on LinkedIn. He allowed me to reproduce the post here. I think his comments are great advice for anyone that is a sales manager and even for salespeople that are looking at their current manager to see if it makes sense for them to continue with their current employer.

Today’s market is extremely competitive for salespeople. Most sales organizations cannot find enough high-quality talent. If your manager isn’t living up to Dean’s standards, you may want to find a better manager.

Conversely, every sales manager needs to look at these words from a sales expert. If you are not adding value to your sales team then you should re-think your style. The big question that you should answer for yourself is embedded in Dean’s original post:

Do you work for your sales team or do they work for you?

Header photo courtesy o f La solitudine del manager by Sgt. Pepper57 on 2017-05-31 14:59:13

Don’t Sell Your Product Before You Sell Yourself

Don’t Sell Your Product Before You Sell Yourself

If you think your only job is to sell your company’s products and services, think again. Before you can ever close a sale, you must sell the customer on why they should buy from you and your company.

Unless a customer has done business with you before, the only thing they might have decided when they start to talk to you is what type of product or service they are considering. In reality, all they may know is that they might not be achieving their corporate or personal goals. Talking to you has nothing to do with their decision to work with your company. And, at this point, they are not sold on why they should. In fact, they may not even be sold that their missed goal can be solved by buying a product or service.

Customers engage with you for a variety of reasons. They may have seen an ad or found the company on the Internet. You may have cold-called the company or networked with the company via social media. They may have been referred to you. It has nothing to do with their decision to work with your company.

This is why it is imperative for salespeople to answer the question, “Why should I buy from you?” You must sell your personal credibility before you can sell anything else. Think of it as a job interview.

As a job candidate, you do everything you can to put your best foot forward, from the way you dress, to how you listen, and how you answer questions honestly, thoroughly, and correctly. You strive to prove that you are the right choice, that you have the skills, commitment, and passion that will benefit the employer now and in the future.

The same applies when customers interview you. They need to know why they should buy from you as well as buying from your company. They look for a professional who is committed to listening and understanding their needs. The key word here is listening. This is the only way to understand their needs thoroughly. It is imperative that you listen before you try to answer questions.

What’s at stake?

Giving customers a reason to buy from you and your company has immediate and long-time benefits. In the short-term, customers will be delighted with their experience and tell their friends. This has the potential to increase your social network and increase your personal worth. In the long-run, it means that customers will be back for service, accessories, and more.

On the other hand, if you don’t develop a relationship built on trust and confidence, you will always end up selling on price, just like everyone else. Even if a customer purchases a product or service, they may never be back, and, they may warn others to steer clear of your company.

What’s involved?

You must be the best professional that you can be. You must embrace work as a profession, not as just another job. A professional salesperson is proud of his craft and tries to be the best that s/he can.

In my book, Eliminate Your Competition I discuss there are three things that you must sell:

  1. your product,
  2. your company,
  3. yourself.

Since most products have competition that solves the core of the same problems, products rarely win the deal by themselves. Since most companies are high quality, the company reputation rarely wins the deal. The big variable in all sales opportunities is you. You can show that you are a better partner and a better advocate than the other salesperson. You can show that it is better to buy from you than to buy from the other person. You may purchase my book 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.

Customer loyalty isn’t what it used to be. People don’t return simply because it’s where they purchased previously. They re-purchase because salespeople took the time to build a relationship. They gave the customer a reason to buy from their company. When you have a relationship with a customer, everything is more straightforward. But remember, even one mistake can cause a loyal customer to leave. It is up to you to sell them on your company, sell them on your professionalism, and then, to keep them sold through simple, consistent communication.