I am sure many of us affectionately remember playing Clue (aka Cluedo). The fun involved in following the clues, uncovering agendas, and taking risks — so many twists and turns throughout. It is a game of clue analysis, and whoever is best at deciphering the playing field gains competitive advantage. Of course there is a winner, and so there must be losers — as in life, as in sales!
Selling is a game of following the clues, analyzing the risks, and then making the right moves—all the time managing the strategy of execution. The clues are uncovered and leveraged when the sales team knows how to access relationships and then design and implement the right political strategy.
Selling in a highly-charged political environment can be one of the most exciting games on the planet. The more highly charged the political environment then the more emotions are in play. This leads to more active forces behind position taking and, ultimately, decision making. You need to leverage these opportunities in your sales cycle to gain competitive advantage. Let’s look at these political clues driven by personal agendas.
- Executive Drafting – This occurs soon after an Executive has been appointed at the client. Within 30 – 60 days there is a draft of colleagues from previous positions. This creates a mutual bond of loyalty, which results in a very high degree of mutual influence. Follow this line of influence in your sales cycle and it will create a relationship competitive advantage!
- Reorganization Tension – Tension is created when an organizational restructure is about to take place. While many salespeople will say they have to wait until the restructuring is complete before they can sell anything, this is the time that “heat seekers” will strike and make a preemptive move to gain a political advantage. Look for the heat seeker and preempt your competitors!
- Vacant Chair Competition – Whenever someone is rumored to be resigning or moving on from a role, a vacancy is created. As a result, political activity rises significantly as individuals jockey for selection. Often the race is on to implement new initiatives to impress the decision makers who will determine who fills the vacancy. This is your opportunity to seek out potential candidates and appeal to their personal agenda by delivering a business improvement Value Vision!
- Honeymoon Period – Whenever a new Executive or Leader is appointed to a new role, there is a “honeymoon” period where they are allowed time to “settle in.” Years ago this used to be 6 months to a year. Now a new Executive is expected to launch their first business improvement initiative within the first 90 days. They are keen for external thought leadership on the market and the business environment and hungry for ideas on how to create a step change in the business…the ideal timing for new thinking from you!
The ability to research your clients’ political environment, develop a vision that links to a personal agenda created by one the above situations, and then executing successfully can be as much fun as…winning a game of Clue!
We often do not take the time to pay attention to our client’s political environment yet it is crucial to building relationships. Block out some time and really research all of the powerful individuals in one of your major client’s and see how many political and personal agendas you can uncover. In what way could you leverage them with new thinking?