Warrior, sales warriors, especially the 21th century sales warrior – this term is mentioned almost everywhere. Not only since this SAP campaign was so well received.
How do you feel being confronted with the term “sales warrior”? Do you perceive “sales warrior” as a positive term or as a provocative or negative term, or something different?
Honestly, when I heard “sales warrior” for the first time, I thought “Oh no, couldn’t we find a less war driven word, a more positive term?” I had – as always – an inspiring conversation with Nicholas Kontopoulos on that question, when he asked me a few weeks ago “BTW, do you like the term „sales warrior“? I said: “Honestly, I have mixed feelings with that, but I will structure my thoughts and come back to you.”
Here we are.
How should we define a warrior? How is a warrior different from a soldier? Are they fighting against something/someone or for something/someone?
First of all, a soldier is trained to respect authorities, to follow a process and not to question it. Isn’t it that soldiers (not in sales, but in war) are told to fight for something (liberty, freedom, whatsoever), but in reality they have to fight directly against their enemies?
How are warriors different? Wikipedia says it’s “a person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics”. We don’t discuss politics here, but athletics make a lot of sense because apart from competition, it’s about the aim to win. Let’s keep that in mind for a minute.
Here is the conclusion of my little warrior research, including research on spiritual warriors. In general, a warrior….
- has a systematic and consistent approach to success
- is constantly eager to get better, to learn how to improve skills and behaviors
- is an independent person, self-responsible, driven by autonomy, meaning and purpose
- takes responsibility for own actions, is aware of their consequences and lives with them
- accepts challenges and fights for their solutions
- doesn’t run away from challenges, because he/she knows that running away only means to need much more time and effort to come to a solution.
- accepts a given framework, but he/she takes always a situational, flexible and adaptable approach to create the most value out of a certain situation
- can act either as an independent person or as a team player
- is based on compassion, integrity and operational brilliance that victory will happen, it’s only a matter of time.
Now, what do we expect from a sales warrior? How do our sales challenges look like, especially the challenges around the complex sale? We can summarize them as four sales milestones (see also Forrester’s sales outcomes) along the customer’s journey:
- Gain appropriate access (to the executive owner, relevant decision maker)
- Having successful meetings (with all impacted stakeholders)
- Create shared vision of success and design solution
- Create business case and proposal
Mastering all these milestones with brilliance, our sales person needs a few skills and behaviors and a certain attitude. Our “sales warrior”
- is focused on talking about the customers, their specific roles and responsibilities, their specific challenges and how to solve them. He/she is aware that talking about the own company, the own products and services is of no added value for today’s prospects and executive buyers
- knows, that the customers expect him/her to map the vendor’s capabilities to the customer’s specific challenges to show added value and a path to their desired outcomes.
- is focused on driving value at each stage along the customer’s journey and at each stakeholder level (that’s all about dynamic messaging)
- is focused on what a solution means for the specific customer challenges instead of what the own services and solutions do!
- shows impactful commercial insights regarding the customer’s business that helps the customer to think differently about a certain challenge
- shares best practices, creates urgency to drive change, to develop a shared vision of success which helps the customer to follow a step-by-step approach on how to achieve a desired desired outcome
- enables the customer to sell a deal internally and enables him/her self to sell the deal internally at the vendor’s organization
- works in a collaborative way to win
So, you get the picture. From my point of view, a sales warrior has nothing to do with fighting against something, being in war with somebody, playing the role of a lonely hero, or just following procedures without integrating passion, leadership, brilliance and own creative ideas.
The opposite is the case, the warrior needs all the above mentioned skills, behaviors and attitudes to fight for the customer’s success, for the customer’s desired outcomes, ideally in a win/win scenario – to create the prerequisite for his/her own success. To do so, the sales warrior has to be a compassionate, collaborative person with a high level of emotional and situational intelligence.
Our sales warrior doesn’t put energy in fighting against competitors, or colleagues – what a waste of energy. Furthermore our sales warrior’s brilliance is to analyze and to predict the competitor’s strategy, in order to cross and to frustrate these strategies. That’s why we need him/her to take a systematic, well thought-through and consequent approach.
Execution along the customer’s journey is always focused on fighting for the customer’s success with the right set of customer stakeholders and with different partners – to win!
Execution is not focused against something or somebody.
Especially in the world of complex sale, all these efforts are no one man/one woman shows. These sales warriors are working in a team to win the deals. That’s why collaboration is so important. Collaboration within an account or a deal team, collaboration with the customer, collaboration with partners and last but not least – collaboration along the vendor’s internal sales support supply chain.
Last but not least: Our sales warrior doesn’t ignore a given, purpose driven and goal-oriented sales process. The opposite is the case. Nobody could say that better than a friend of mine, Dave Brock, with this wonderful Formula 1 analogy:
“The best sales professionals, like Formula 1 drivers, don’t seek to drive on their own course, but learn how to exploit the course/process, adapt it to current situation and conditions and go to win. Formula 1 drivers never blame the course if they fail to achieve goals.”
What’s a sales warrior for you?
How would you call these collaborative, energetic, challenging, goal and outcome-oriented, customer-centric, brilliant persons?