Position, as it relates to selling, is our current status and degree of influence in a customer relationship. Having Preferred Position means being the supplier of choice – essentially having all the business we want. Preferred Position may seem an obvious goal, but success is far from guaranteed without understanding this very methodical process:
Strategically, some business is advantageous and of extremely high value and some is less so. Knowing which is which is critical as we consider how to prioritize our business development activities so we can achieve Preferred Position with those accounts and opportunities that offer us the best return on our time and effort.
2. Assess Current Status
If not Preferred, our position might rank as Uncertain, Peripheral, Shared or Negative. As we survey the competitive landscape, we must consider our customers’ perception of the value we bring them in terms of our offerings, as well as our personal knowledge and expertise.
3. Evaluate Potential
Once we determine our current status and degree of influence in a specific customer relationship, we need to judge what level we can reasonably expect to achieve. We must consider the decision-influencers, their buying orientations, their individual and collective criteria for success and to what degree they have actually attained those ideals.
4. Set Objectives
Having assessed our position, we are ready to set concrete, measurable and time-bound objectives. We can then develop a strategy to achieve them. To make the strategy come to life, we must identify steps to implement the strategy.
5. Apply Selling Skills and Sales Processes
Only now are we ready to apply our selling skills within defined and proven sales processes: Investing in the Relationship (aligning our interests with those of our customer); Finding the Area of Opportunity (truly understanding our customers’ desired outcomes and why they are important); and Making the Customer Part of the Solution (involving our customer in the creation and implementation of the solution). These combined processes are executed via functional activities and interpersonal skills, producing a level of sales effectiveness that establishes a standard of excellence by which all other efforts are judged, earning us Preferred Position with our customers.
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