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Selling Is Not War

by Doug Davidoff | Aug 4, 2009 10:07:20 AM

selling-is-not-warI admit it.  I’ve used military analogies from time to time to explain both strategies and tactics.  War analogies are easy to use, easy to understand -  and easy to misapply.  For years, I’ve written about the various myths of selling, but the one that just gets my goat is this one – Selling Is War.

Recently I came across a sales oriented blog that finished their message on selling strategies with this paragraph:

If you are in sales, you are perpetually in a state of war. All salespeople are warriors who must fight the relentless march of time and enemies who are trying to defeat them daily. Sales is an intense hand-to-hand battle fought between two people or two groups of people who are each trying to win over the customer. The victor outsmarts, outmaneuvers, and overwhelms his enemies. In sales, just as in war, there can be only one winner, and today’s conqueror can quickly become tomorrow’s vanquished. The deciding difference is strategy.

If I searched the world for one paragraph that was at the focal point of what is wrong with selling, I could not find one better than this.  What scares me about this, and why I’m pointing it out in this post, is that I think a lot of executives and salespeople believe this philosophy.

After reading the paragraph a couple of times, I admit that I’m not sure whether the author is saying that the customer is the enemy, the competitor is the enemy or both.  What I do know, is that author is clearly communicating that sales – at it’s core – is a win/lose proposition.  And this belief is at the core of why businesses are being so relentlessly commoditized.

Let’s be clear – SELLING IS NOT WAR; and any allusions to selling as war make your job as a fast growth executive or salesperson more difficult.  Is it any wonder that top performers and brilliant salespeople bristle at the idea of “selling.”

The reality is, selling done right, is
•    A win/win proposition
•    Collaborative
•    Creative
•    Value Creative
•    Fun

War is rarely, if ever, any of these (and the war referred to above is clearly none of these).  So, let’s drop the silly war analogies, and get back to creating value for our prospects, customer and clients.  When you do that, your competition (the enemy) becomes irrelevant.