Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Mini-Review: “Hope Is Not A Strategy” by Rick Page

Invoke Solutions is one of my client companies. Their offices are located next door to ours in Wellesley, MA. Because of some encouraging early successes with their unique marketing research software and solution, Invoke’s Board of Directors recently decided to staff up additional sales territories across North America. Ben Cesare, Invoke’s Senior VP of Sales, retained me to help them to find Sales Executives for some of these new territories. Ben came to Invoke with more than 20 years of experience in leading sales teams, including a stint heading up Channel Sales in North America for Apple Computer. Ben understands the world of complex selling!

In the course of helping me to understand the kind of candidate that will be most successful in telling the Invoke story, Ben mentioned that his favorite book on the subject was written by Rick Page: “Hope Is Not A Strategy – The 6 Keys to Winning the Complex Sale.” It did not take me long to figure out that this book should quickly find its way to the top of my reading list. I have just finished digesting the book. I can see why Ben considers it “the Bible” for the art of complex selling. Over the past several years, I have been trying to learn all that I can about best practices in sales and selling. This thin volume – less than 200 pages – is the best resource I have seen for simplifying the sometimes mystifying and multi-layered process of managing competitive sales.

The book is laid out in four major sections:

Section 1: The Challenge – The Complex Sale

In this introductory section, Page unravels the intricacies of selling in a rapidly evolving business environment. I found the chapter on “Talent and Team Selling” to be of particular value. In this chapter, he lays out the different kinds of skills that are needed for different types of selling – Tellers, Sellers, Hunters, Farmers, Business Developers, Partners and Industry-Networked Consultants.

Section 2: The Solution – R.A.D.A.R.

This sections contains the Six Keys that Page refers to in the subtitle of the book.

Key 1 – Link Solutions to Pain or Gain

Key 2 – Qualify The Prospect

Key 3 – Build Competitive Preference

Key 4 – Determine the Decision-Making Process

Key 5 – Sell to Power

Key 6 – Communicate the Strategic Plan

Section 3: Strategies for Execution

This section is replete with mini-case studies of how specific sales teams or individuals implemented the execution strategies outlined in this part of the book.

Section 4: Winning Before the Battle – Account Management

Page writes: “A friend of mine was an airborne instructor in the Army. I asked him if it was difficult to get people to jump out of an airplane the first time.

‘Actually,’ he said, ‘it was harder to get them to do it the second time.’

That is my definition of a great salesperson. Will they buy from you the second time?

If we oversold or underdelivered, then it wasn’t a sale; it was a lie. Lying is easy; selling is hard.

A great salesperson sells in a way that leads to trust and repeat business.”

I recommend this book for anyone who is "carrying a bag" or leading a sales team.

I also recommend Invoke Solutions’ fascinating new approach to streamlining market research. They are saving their clients time and money while providing more useful and more robust market intelligence. Check out their Website.


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