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5 Keys to Sales Tactics and the Art of War

Sun Tzu was a Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher who lived between 544-496 BC. His book ‘The Art of War’ is one of the most widely used guides on marketing and sales tactics. He teaches us to take advantage of our competitor’s weaknesses by drawing attention to our strengths. Also, a coordinated blend of direct and indirect initiatives will enhance success in sales. A strong defense and adaptability are necessary to succeed and finally Sun Tzu teaches us to always respect our opponents. Following are tactical keys to success in sales:

  1. Expose the Weaknesses of the Competition – Knowing the way your strengths match to competitor’s weaknesses will provide a distinct advantage. It will allow you to promote your strengths thus weakening your competition without directly attacking them or drawing attention to negatives.
    • “In making tactical dispositions, the highest pitch you can attain is to conceal them”… Sun Tzu
  2. Make use of Direct and Indirect Promotion – Selling directly will earn business. Offering benefits through community, organizations, social media, etc. will build trust and earn business as well. Developing both methods and utilizing them together will maximize the likelihood of success.
    • “In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack–the direct and the indirect; yet these two in combination give rise to an endless series of maneuvers”… Sun Tzu
  3. Be Prepared for Defense – Your customers are your competitors prospects and most of your prospects are your competitors customers. Knowing how your competitors attack will indicate what to defend. Make a direct effort to portray as positives what competitors will point to as weaknesses. Exceed their aggressiveness in doing so.
    • “The skillful tactician may be likened to the shuai-jan. Now the shuai-jan is a snake that is found in the Ch’ang Mountains. Strike at its head, and you will be attacked by its tail; strike at its tail, and you will be attacked by its head; strike at its middle, and you will be attacked by head and tail both” … Sun Tzu
  4. Success is Predicated on the Ability to Adapt – Rigidity in application of strategies often leads to defeat. Adjustments must be made as circumstances become apparent. As challenges are faced success is achieved through compliance.
    • “Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe that he is facing”… Sun Tzu
  5. Appreciate and Respect the Competition – Strive to win without severely damaging opponents. Instilling desperation in competitors will elicit erratic and unpredictable responses making defense very difficult.
    • “When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard”… Sun Tzu

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