One of the many capabilities required for success in complex selling and most sales management positions is the ability to think and act strategically. Too many people in sales and sales management are tactical-responding and reacting, rather than having a vision of a final outcome and a plan to get there.
I've seen many salespeople and their managers learn to see things strategically. Certainly some DNA is involved. But exposure to different sales approaches, books, coaches, consultants and case studies can all help. Sun Tzu's The Art of War, for example, is certainly a must-have on the bookshelf of anyone serious about a career in selling.
Much of what I learned early in my career about sales strategy came from guys like Jim Holden, Rick Page and Bob Miller and Stephen Heiman's book Strategic Selling. Actually, those resources got me pretty far, initially. I could out-plan and out-strategize the competition. So could the salesreps that worked for me. That competitive edge served to motivate me to learn more about advanced selling strategies.
Later on, when I was a full-time competitive sales strategist, I bought the book Thinking Strategically. Although the applications of strategy discussed were broad in scope, the book powered me to a new level. In fact, I still reread certain sections of the book every year or so. That's how valuable it is to me. But be advised: It's not easy reading. There is considerable mental work involved. If The Art of War is elementary school, Thinking Strategically is graduate school.
The book was originally published in 1991. It hasn't lost its potency.
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