Collector - August 2017 - 38
Editor's note: This is the fourth
in a series of seven articles examining
innovative sales techniques based on
The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Read the
first article in the May issue of
Do you know your sales strengths and weaknesses?
By Marc Trezza
n business, discussions about operational
planning constantly arise, and many
leaders wonder: Does strategy determine
tactics or do tactics determine strategy?
Here's the simple answer: Strategy always
comes before tactics, just as thinking comes
However, thinking can be the easy part;
the doing is more difficult. It's a business
fundamental that the strategy must be correct
for the tactics to succeed. There is no chicken
and egg problem here. The strategy must be
right first-you must be doing the right thing.
Then the tactics can support the strategy
by doing things right. Excellent strategy at
higher levels can sustain many tactical failures
at lower levels, but the opposite is rarely true.
Sustained tactical success-even continuous
brilliant execution of tactics-seldom
overcomes an inadequate strategic posture.
Bad strategy supported by good tactics is a
fast route to failure. Driving fast and skillfully
in the wrong direction will not get you to
your destination. Success requires a balance of
strategy and tactics, otherwise the tacticians
(your salespeople) will not understand why
they are-or should-be doing what.
When we do not understand the
underlying concepts, we do not have the
ability to improve (or improvise) properly.
THE STRATEGY GAP
Without a clear understanding of how the
marketplace has changed in terms of what
buyers do and don't want to hear, how
they view collection agencies in the overall
scheme of managing their department,
how their process for evaluating and hiring
agencies has evolved and how they feel
about the way agencies typically conduct
their sales efforts, agencies (and salespeople)
have no idea how to behave.
But by taking the time and effort to
understand how a patient account manager's
or college business officer's world has changed,
you can engage them in a productive way.
It's also important to understand how
your current sales approach distinguishes
you from the approach used by most of your
competitors; except for competing on lower
and lower rates, how can you differentiate
yourself in the sales process? How can you sell
value instead of rate if you do not know what
a buyer actually values?
In the many years I have been studying
collection sales, one of the most counterproductive agency perceptions is that when it
comes to sales, the agency knows what is best
for the buyer.
Ultimately, whether or not that is true is
irrelevant. Buyers don't like it. Moreover,
it reinforces preconceived agency
notions rather than the pursuit of actual
knowledge, and stifles growth due to the
inability to recognize how significantly
things have changed.
Focusing solely on how great your agency's
features are is a failed sales approach because
it falls on deaf ears, and it pushes the buyer
away. It's an approach that was valid decades
ago when we were convincing buyers the
value of hiring an agency at all. Today any