Back when you were in elementary school, you may have had to read or even memorize a poem called “The Blind Man and the Elephant.” In case you don’t remember it, the gist of the poem is that six blind men want to learn what an elephant is, so they all go up and touch one.
But of course, each of them encounters a different part of the elephant, so they each get a different idea of what an elephant is like. The one who runs into the elephant’s side thinks an elephant is a kind of wall. The one who grabs the tusk thinks an elephant is a kind of spear. The one who feels the trunk thinks an elephant is a snake. And so on—you get the idea.
So what does this have to do with figuring out when your sales strategy stinks?
(I promise, it’s not just an excuse to weave in an elephant dung joke.)
One easy way to figure out if you have a good sales strategy or not is to ask your sales and marketing team what your sales strategy is. If they all give you the same answer, that’s a good sign (although it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a great sales strategy. More on that later.)
On the other hand, if you get a lot of different answers to the question—in the same way that the different blind men came to different conclusions about the elephant—you definitely have a problem. If individuals in your company are trying to address different target markets with their own unique perceptions of your value proposition and competitive differentiation, you are never going to succeed in achieving your company goals. Sure, you might stay afloat for a while, but you aren’t going to be making the kind of progress that you could be making if everyone were pulling in the same direction.
To carry the metaphor a bit further, you don’t want your sales and marketing people to be blind. They all need to understand the big picture, not just the small piece that they have stumbled upon. Everyone needs to know where the team is headed so that they can all be held accountable for moving in that direction—or not. People might disagree about what your sales strategy should be, but they should have absolute clarity on what your sales strategy is.
Of course, it’s possible for everyone to be on the same page and for your sales strategy to still smell like a huge pile of steaming elephant excrement. To find out if your sales strategy is of the more aromatic variety, we invite you to go through the diagnostic Seven Signs Your Sales Strategy Stinks. These straightforward questions are a quick way to gauge whether you have a problem or not.
If you do have some opportunities for improvement, check out the webinar Anatomy of a Competition-Crushing Sales Strategy. It walks you through the key steps involved in crafting a sales strategy and offers tips for optimizing and refining your existing strategy. It’s a great place to start if your sales and marketing team seems to be flailing around in the dark instead of pursuing your company goals.