If You Haven’t Chosen the Game, You Need to Change the Rules


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Have you ever stumbled over a sales opportunity late in the day, after your prospect had already consulted with one or more of your competitors? Or maybe you are going to have to defeat an incumbent vendor in order to win the deal? Here’s why if you haven’t chosen the game, you need to change the rules

Perhaps you remember what it was like when as a child you took part in playground games? How did it feel when you had to play according to somebody else’s rules – rules that gave them an unfair advantage? What were your chances of winning? Probably slim-to-none.

Against the Odds

Well, it’s the same situation in sales when you arrive late to the game. Chances are, someone has already established the agenda, influenced the needs, and helped shape the decision criteria. What are the odds that the game is biased in their favour? Pretty high.

Of course, the best remedy is to avoid the problem in the first place – by establishing the sort of presence in the market and the distinctive thought leadership that shapes your target audience’s thinking and makes you the obvious company to turn to when they start to search for solutions.

Playing Catch-Up

But if you find yourself in catch up mode on a playing field that is stacked against you, you need to redefine the rules or qualify the opportunity out and go and find (or even better, create) another game where you have a better chance of winning.

You might think that redefining the rules is easier said than done, but top sales people have the ability to do it time after time. And anyway, what’s the alternative? To be commended by the prospect for your efforts and your professionalism, and yet still to finish second?

Change Your Prospect’s Perspective

If you are to redefine the rules, you need to persuade your prospect take a different perspective on the problem they are trying to deal with. Maybe you can help them recognise some previously hidden implications, show them the potentially negative consequences of their preferred path, or challenge them – in a constructive way – to do better.

And you’ll also probably want to explore who else might be affected by the issue. What is the impact on them? Could their opinions influence the decision? How can you elevate the consequences of a poorly thought out choice, and make them your allies?

Be Prepared to Qualify Out

One thing is certain. Bemoaning your fate and the unfairness of it all will do nothing to increase your chances of winning. You do your company no service by dragging them along with you in your quest to secure an unwinnable deal. Your resources – and theirs – would be much better spent elsewhere.

Building Scalable Businesses

Are you trying to create a repeatable, scalable and predictable sales and marketing machine within your own organisation? Then you’ll probably enjoy reading our latest white paper “10 Steps to Scalability” – you can download it here.

And you might also want to join the Building Scalable Businesses group on LinkedIn – you can join the group here. I look forward to your contributions.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bob Apollo
Bob Apollo is the CEO of UK-based Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners, the B2B sales performance improvement specialists. Following a varied corporate career, Bob now works with a rapidly expanding client base of B2B-focused growth-phase technology companies, helping them to implement systematic sales processes that drive predictable revenue growth.


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