I once discussed the similarities between the art of sales and warfare in an interview (see video below) with Steve W. Martin, author of Heavy Hitter Selling. In his book, Steve explored the lessons salespeople can learn from great military strategists. For example: If salespeople stride into the prospect's territory and spew bullets of information in all directions, they'll do a lot of damage to themselves -- but the competition will walk away unscathed.
While the head-on assault is a time-honored tradition of military strategy, this approach is almost guaranteed to be an ill-conceived plan of attack in sales. This conclusion seems like a no-brainer, but there are a few reasons salespeople fall into full frontal-attack mode over and over:
- They get fired up right before a presentation or a client meeting. When your adrenaline is pumping, it's difficult to slow down and listen.
- They've prepared for weeks, months, even years for this moment. All their instincts are telling them to give this moment all they've got.
- They've got an entire arsenal at their disposal. Many salespeople tend to err on the side of exerting more force then necessary, simply becuase it's there.
- They're ready to crush the competition. Salespeople stay motivated in part by making a deep psychological investment in rivalries.
If handled correctly, these characteristics can help a salesperson succeed. In many cases, however, these all become ways that a client's voice and needs end up getting lost in the sales process. Salespeople who learn how to walk softly on the battlefield of sales will start seeing more wins instead of casualties.
Special note: I'm looking forward to joining forces with Steve W. Martin again on September 7 during our live Webinar, during which we'll discuss the mechanics of implementing a successful, virtual sales kickoff meeting. Register today and bring your thoughts and questions to the table.