The discussion question that I am posing to those of you in the world of complex sales is when you choose to pursue an opportunity, do you develop clear Win Strategies? Based on how you are going to be judged, do you have a clear sales strategy (that aligns the team) as to how you will both compete and win?

The language sounds simple, but the reality is most sales teams do not think or talk in consistent terms as it pertains to pursuit strategy. Data would suggest, that although ever deal is different, most sales teams pursue deals in a very similar way. Let me illustrate using some common sales strategy terms that you have likely seen and heard. The origin has a military background and specifically with Sun Tsu. Under this theory, there are 5 offensive strategies.

  1. Frontal Strategy- for this to be the right choice, it implies overwhelming dominance on the criteria which you will be judged. You would then act with speed and force to compete head on. The challenge for most sales teams is that this what they do 90% of the time even though they are not dominant at all. You may be just responding to the RFP and accepting your fate. You are following the playbook that has been given to you even though your strengths do not line up to the decision criteria.

  2. Flanking Strategy- in simple terms, you are not dominant based on known decision criteria and you need to change the game. In most sales pursuits, this is should be the preferred strategy. This implies both awareness of your current position and the making decision criteria. Knowing that you need to flank is one thing, knowing how to flank is quite another.

  3. Fragmentation Strategy- you got the big RFP and you have no chance of winning the entire bid against larger and better positioned competitors. Do you have an opportunity to try and cut a piece of the deal that both positions you better and creates a measurable return and less risk for the client? In the absence of a strategic choice like a fragmentation strategy, “no bid” is the right answer.

  4. Stall- you may have arrived late, have a new product coming or in general need more time to build your strategy. Do you have the ability to Stall based on the relationship and credibility that you possess plus the perceived value that you can create? If the answer is yes, then you may have an opportunity to Stall and then change the game.

  5. Disengage- yup, the decision to leave is a strategy. You may know that you cannot meet the minimum criteria and will not compete well, so save your bullets for another fight. What is you have been denied access to key people and information? Disengage is then quite strategic as the doors may open up if you choose to leave the party based on the process you have been asked to follow. It is easier to be brave when you know you have no chance if you follow the playbook you have been given.


p>So, armed with a potentially different perspective on sales strategy and a different set of internal conversations, what do you do next? Once you have made your decision on your Win Strategy, the real work comes as you create the tactical plan to actually execute against your strategy. If you believe a Fragmentation Strategy gives you the greatest chance of success, then what exactly are you going to do to make this happen. Actions, owners, dates and short term check-in points to measure where you are will be required.

When you think about the hundreds of hours of effort that goes into pursuing a large, complex transaction, how much time are you spending thinking about and creating your strategy as to how you will compete and win? One could argue that in absence of a Win Strategy,  then a “no bid” would seem to be the best course of action. The creation of a common language around strategy and what will become your own playbook of how you compete in various types of scenarios are logical outputs from spending more time on strategy. You should also expect lower Cost of Sale and increased Win Rates.

This is a small component of the Win Strategy module of our INK Sales Strategy Software, but a very important module as you use information to shape your plan.



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