Smart salespeople distinguish themselves from the pack of competitors. They are game changers, and they don’t wait to be pursued by potential customers. Game changers are assertive and effective as they challenge—with diplomacy—a customer’s viewpoint. They think strategically and target potential opportunities that a customer may not yet realize exists, or they recast the way a customer views its situation. If a customer appears to have little interest, a game changer reframes the conversation to build a compelling business case. It is a honed persona cultivated from an investment in thoughtful preparation,planning and confident execution.
Consider a game changer’s story. Pat is a new Strategic Account Manager for a tech services company. She is charged with developing a new book of business with aggressive revenue goals in a highly competitive market. While Pat has a history of success, this game changer does not take it for granted.
Prepare for the Hunt
Pat quickly begins preparing for her hunt for new business rather than depending on her company’s marketing team to develop tools and industry-specific collateral. She knows she must create demand with elevated urgency. Pat identifies several types of industries in which her company’s capabilities could offer exceptional differentiated value. She synthesizes comprehensive internal and external research to develop a deep understanding of those customers’ ecosystems and identifies the best potential matches.
By mapping the typical customer’s business process steps, Pat reimagines the upside a positive disruption could have on the business. She anticipates approaching changes that may impact her customers’ environments and where her organization’s expertise would be most valuable. Approaching new legislative requirements provides plenty of additional opportunity for her to hunt.
Plan a Value Strategy
Next, Pat plans a value strategy by applying a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis to capitalize on the important information she acquired. She identifies and prioritizes the customer stakeholders most likely to care about the issues her capabilities would improve, while understanding the financial results. She hypothesizes the financial value of her capabilities for her average customer, then determines how to translate that value to a prospect. She is careful not to lard her plans with assumptions or hyperbole.
Pat charts an engaging, yet provocative path of strategic inquiry for each likely customer stakeholder to create enough insight for a business case for change. She crafts a compelling value story complete with examples to share and test with customer stakeholders—the right stakeholders—where she will probably get traction. Pat considers proactively potential customer pushback and plans potential responses so that she can pivot as necessary. She plans to listen patiently for clues to pursue and resist any urge to rush ahead of her customer. Over time, as she intends to expand her business case, Pat plans to ask about other stakeholders who may also care about the issues being discussed.
Execute the Plan
Finally, Pat executes her plan with an outside-in perspective. Having rehearsed with a senior colleague, she conducts a productive customer meeting. Her information is relevant, focused and differentiating as she nimbly tests her financial examples and remains mindful of an incumbent competitor. Pat gathers important customer data to support her value hypothesis to include brand protection. She develops enough mutual interest for both parties to schedule a near-term follow-up meeting with an expanded audience. Our intrepid game changer is on her way to success with a new account.
In today’s competitive selling environment, a game changer knows there is no substitute for thorough preparation with the right research to develop a strategy, followed by tactical planning appropriate for the opportunity, to enable confident and agile execution.
If your team sells in a competitive environment, call Holden Advisors and speak with an expert on creating game changers on your team.