Diagnose the problem. Once you know the area and its prospects and contacts, you can begin to diagnose the problem. Who are your competitors? What set of problems or challenges do they solve? Sales is fundamentally a competition between many groups, each seeking to mobilize the people in support of their solution – sales is always more than two-sided. So you must understand what motivates the people and how to mobilize them.
You need to know how and why your competitors gain customers. This means you need to know your competitor, not some cardboard cut-out. Your competitor is adaptive, resourceful and probably grew up in the territory where you operate. The contacts have known him since he was a boy – how long have they known you? Your worst opponent is not the psychopathic salesperson from Glengary Glenn Ross, it is the charismatic, follow-me salesperson who would be at the top of your sales leader board. His customers are not misled or naive; much of his success is due to his being able to create value for his customers when someone else failed to do so.
Work this problem with your sales team. Discuss idea, explore the problems, understand what you are facing, and seek consensus. If this sounds like like empowerment, get over it. Once your salespeople are in the field, situations arise too quickly for orders, or for their sales managers intent or advice. Salespeople will have to make snap judgments with strategic impact. The only way to help them is to give them a shared understanding, then trust them to think for themselves on the day.
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