Thursday 3 May 2012

5. Hope is Not a Strategy – The Six Keys to Winning the Complex Sale  
Hope is Not a Strategy, came highly recommended by several business colleagues. The book takes aim at six keys to winning the complex sale those being; 1. Link Solutions to Pain, 2. Qualify the Prospect, 3. Build Competitive Preference, 4. Determine the Decision-Making Process, 5. Sell to Power, 6. Communicate the Strategic Plan.

From the perspective of B2B Books the book delivered on a micro-level, but not a macro level. To be more precise, it delivered on inspirational and thought provoking ideas and actions found in each of the six keys, but failed to deliver on succinctly describing, a “single, simple, strategic process for winning sales and dominating accounts. Let us have a look at both of these aspects of the book in turn.
Throughout Hope is Not a Strategy, there were numerous nuggets of content which spurred great thought on different parts of the sales cycle. Something important these nuggets related to different members in varying degrees. Members found it hard to put the highlighter down due to the plethora of relevant statements to their sales cycle and approach to sales. This happened so often that members often put the book down to deeply consider the ramifications of a sentence or passage.
One such idea was a simple question regarding, Key 4: Determine the Decision-Making Process, “If the client was going to make a decision today, what would it be?” The answer to this question clearly indicated that action needed to be taken in order to maintain a yes answer or to change a no or no decision answer. For instance, some actions might be the engagement of resources to move a decision in one’s favour. It could also suggest that the decision making process must be better understood in order to apply the correct strategy. This could entail the engagement of different advocates inside the client’s organization, the invoking of better strategy or the rallying of internal resources. Whichever the case this question should always be top of mind in the complex sale as it maintains the focus on the negotiating with the right decision makers and the obtaining of business from a client.

Another great concept found in Hope is Not a Strategy, is steering the sale. A salesperson should always endeavor to steer the sale which implies they are in control. He or she is the one leading clients to the best solutions for their business’s ailments. This should happen from the beginning of the sales process. Consider this example from the book. If a salesman has received an RFP, but had not played any part in defining the requirements therein.  Understand that someone did and whether it was an internal or external player who defined those requirements, it was not the salesman and this puts him or her at a disadvantage. 
Moving on, Hope is Not a Strategy, claimed it would convey a single, simple, strategic process for winning sales and dominating accounts. This simplification was sorely lacking in a cohesive and coherent description of a single process. Each chapter dedicated to a specific “key” to the complex sale stood alone. Inside each of these chapters there were extended descriptions with diagrams to provide a clear picture of a “key” process. These diagrams did not provide a clear picture of process neither for the chapter in question nor an overall, all-encompassing process. In fact, the diagrams created more confusion than clarity in B2B Books members.
That being said, there was clarity found in the grey callout boxes where descriptions of each of the “keys” to the complex sales. B2B members were quick to point out how these examples were the best source of clarification in each chapter. Still, they were not enough to pull the six keys to the complex sale into a clear process.
In summary, Hope is Not a Strategy biggest strength lies in its ability to relate to sales professionals in the specific ideas, actions within the “keys” to achieving success in the complex sale. As an overall approach there is no clearly defined model or process for winning the complex sale. The end result is a worthwhile read that stimulates sales professionals to adopt particular action(s) as it relates to their personal approach to the complex sale. In so doing, a salesperson can hone their activities in their approach to the complex sale; however, there is little chance of developing a single approach to the complex sale.