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Go Beyond Sales Scripts to Adding Value for Customers
on June 9, 2003
Hope Is Not a Strategy is most valuable for those who are new to large account and large ticket selling. For those with lots of experience, the book is helpful in providing a structure for sales team planning and coordination.
As a test of the book's relevance, I took a potential sale that our firm is wrestling with and put it through the process. A number of valuable insights came from pursuing Mr. Page's process that would probably not have otherwise become part of our approach. Whether the sale will succeed or not, I don't know, but our effort definitely became more effective as a result. I happily give a book that provides that kind of benefit five stars. Thank you!
The book has four sections:
1. The Challenge -- The Complex Sale
2. The Solution -- R.A.D.A.R. (which stands for "R.eading A.ccounts and D.eploying A.ppropriate R.esources")
3. Strategies for Execution
4. Winning before the Battle -- Account Management
The first section was the least helpful to me (after pursuing complex sales for over 30 years, there wasn't really any new background here). If you are new to complex sales, this material will probably be a real eye-opener . . . especially if you are used to individual sales based on a standard approach. The most amusing section was on how to blend talent on a sales team to get the right mix of skills and orientation. You'll learn about Tellers, Sellers, Hunters, Farmers, Business Developers, Partners, and the Industry-Networked Consultant.
The second section was the heart of the book for me, describing R.A.D.A.R. which is "a simplified, six-step process that combines consultative, competitive, and political sales principles into a concise yet comprehensive process." There's a chapter on each element.
Value is the first challenge and you are supposed to link your solutions to the customer's pain or gain at the largest possible scale. Value stretches as a chain of value whose links (from highest to lowest value) are strategic advantage, political risk, financial return, cultural change, operational applications, and future/capability -- tools).
Resource allocation is the second challenge, and your job is to qualify the prospect to see if you can profitably deliver what that customer needs.
Selling strategy is the third challenge, and you try to "win their hearts before it starts" by looking at how you could win or lose in advance so you can build a competitive preference for you and your offering. This frequently involves developing the specifications.
Organizational politics is the fourth challenge, and you should go where the power is and keep climbing to higher levels. You should ideally sell to the CEO.
Teamwork is the final challenge and you accomplish this by communicating your strategic selling plan throughout your team and partners.
In the third section, the most useful part for me was encouragement to change issues and sales tactics to help your potential customer see the maximum advantage you can provide. This may mean changing the scope of the problem and the solutions you offer.
I felt most comfortable with the fourth section because I try to stay in contact with clients for many years in order to help them become alert to opportunities where we can help them. In the consulting business, that approach is important because almost everything is custom made for the client. You need to know each other well before you can help them in the best ways.
Throughout the book, there are sidebars with specific examples of the principles being described in the main text. These were helpful for the most part. My only complaint is that they were too often about selling computer systems.
If all of these points seem like second nature to you, you may find it more valuable to seek out a more advanced book on complex sales.
After you finish reading the book, think back to a complex sale that you unexpectedly lost. How could the process in this book have helped you to avoid that result?