Are You Winning the Battle?

“We should never intentionally place soldiers in a situation where the price of losing outweighs the rewards of winning.”—attributed to Attila the Hun

How often can you honestly say your sales managers apply this rule to the sales staff? And what systems do your salespeople have in place to ensure victory even before they go into battle?

You have two challenges when your sales force prepares for battle:

Challenge 1: As in any kind of warfare, you have a distinct advantage when you can tap good and reliable intelligence. The problem is, your salespeople don’t get enough accurate intelligence about their prospects. As a result, their pipelines are filled with flaky opportunities. And your sales managers don’t have enough guts to call them on it.

Here’s the litmus test: When your salespeople submit their forecasts, do you or your managers adjust them downward for realism? It’s typically easier for salespeople and their managers to discuss why they didn’t win business, instead of asking themselves the right questions before going to battle. 

The right questions are:

Can we win, and should we pursue this opportunity? If the answer is yes, then:

Which strategy should we adopt to ensure that we win?

Let’s look at each step.

Planning ahead

If you’re like most selling organizations, the cost per pursuit is several hundred or sometimes thousands of dollars. Multiply that by the number of opportunities you chased and didn’t close in the last 12 months. Staggering isn’t it?

Before your salespeople charge off to fight the next battle, make sure they can answer these questions honestly:

If this was your money, would you spend it?

What are you trying to sell and, more important, why are you trying to sell it? Sounds simple enough until you actually try to quantify it.

What is the sale worth to the organization? Does the return on investment justify your time, money and effort?

Have we sold this prospect anything in the past? Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?

How many contacts have you already had with this contact? How many phone calls, face-to-face meetings and so on? Do you have a clear next step?

Do you have an organizational chart? Do you have an inside coach?

Can we win?

This is not an all-subjective question. To begin, ask your salespeople:

What do you know about the account so far?

What are the real issues they’re having, and what effect is that having on the company?

If you can help them, will your solution outweigh the change they will encounter?

Have you discussed realistic expectations?

How committed are they to fixing the problem? How do you know?

Did the discussion of investment come up, and are you both in full understanding of at least an estimate of cost?

Most important, if you make recommendations that they believe will help them achieve their goal, what will the next step look like?

Until these things are truly vetted and understood by both parties, they are ill-prepared for battle and will likely lose. Few salespeople understand the cost of pursuing sales and often fill their funnels with bad business. Fewer think through their strategy before going into sales battle. Ask your salespeople these fundamental sales questions before committing resources to a battle you cannot win.

Successful sales professionals qualify their prospects vigorously and religiously before committing time and energy so their closing ratios are 90 percent or better.

So, what are yours? 

Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business, a sales consulting and training firm. She is a best-selling author of “To Sell is NOT to Sell” and works with Fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips go to schulzbusiness.com and sign up for “GretaNomics,” a weekly video tip series, or email sales questions to greta@schulzbusiness.com.

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.