In my 37 years as a salesperson, sales executive and sales trainer, I have known thousands of wonderful salespeople. But in all that time I have met only a handful whom I would consider naturally excellent at sales strategy. I can literally count them on one hand.

When I say “excellent at strategy,” I mean salespeople who could think through a complex deal and maintain a clear vision of how and why the deal would happen. Thanks to what I can only call an innate ability, these five individuals could figure out the power relationships in client organizations—which people had the influence, authority, and respect necessary to move the deal forward—and determine the necessary steps to bring those people onboard.

Above all, they were perceptive about the motives of buyers and influencers at various levels and knew what they had to do to help the buyers get what they wanted.

No, they weren’t clairvoyant. Their abilities had to do with asking great questions and thereby earning the right to ask more great questions. They wound up knowing who was who, and what was what, and how various buyers stood to benefit from the deal because the buyers told them. The buyers told them because great questions build trust, and trust creates allies.

Those five people were naturals. Every other salesperson I’ve ever known had to be thoroughly trained to reach a comparable level of effectiveness.

A number of books have been written on sales strategy. Some of them are very good. A few years ago I met Steve Heiman, author of the great book, “Strategic Selling.” I hold his work in very high regard. He documents, in great detail, the different types of buyers that exist in organizations and how to approach them.

What’s lacking even in Heiman’s first-rate book, however, is a vivid sense of how salespeople who really “get” strategy actually operate, and why buyers respond to them.

This book is my attempt to fill that gap. I wanted to get inside the heads of some sellers who excel at strategy, and let them describe why and how they do what they do. Likewise, I wanted to get inside the heads of some buyers at different levels in an organization and let those buyers describe what it is about these particular salespeople that makes them stand out from the crowd. Why do the buyers find themselves wanting to do business with these folks and not somebody else?

A complex sale can involve any number of players in the buying and selling companies, but I think that three voices from each side of the fence are enough to illustrate how and why a great sales strategy works. You’re going to hear from three people at GoTeam Unlimited, a team of sellers, and from their counterparts in the corporate hierarchy at a client organization called Amstand Companies…

Duane Sparks

About Duane Sparks

Duane Sparks is founder and chairman of The Sales Board, the authoritative source of practical and leading-edge information about the art and science of selling. He has created Action Selling sales training products and learning systems that transform sales organizations. Duane is author of these best-selling books: Action Selling, Selling Your Price, Questions (the Answer to Sales), Masters of Loyalty (How to turn your sales force into a loyalty force), and Sales Strategy from the Inside Out (How complex selling really works).

Discover how the best sales training process can make spectacular improvements in sales skills. Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You are One).