Powerbase Selling

This is an old book from 1990 written by a fella called Jim Holden. At the time, he reckoned that over half of all Chief Execs felt future growth would only come from taking business away from competition, so set to write a book on how best to do so.  Although his true moments of originality feel brief, three are worthy of reflection.

Infiltrate Powerbase
As you might guess from the title, a key theme is to find a powerbase within a prospect and sell through that.  I liked the description of how this can be found.  One good point was to find out people that have somehow ‘got their own way’.  Where are the rulebreakers? Who’s got away with ignoring Policy?  An example that sits outside the boundaries of traditional buying decision focus is if someone’s got a new employee despite a headcount freeze in place.

Fox Hunt
Then there’s the analysis of when you’ve got someone client-side dedicated to fronting their buying process.  Holden encourages you to find the “fox”.  This is the person pulling the strings, or someone that needs impressing.

Competition Traps
Two main considerations are critical.  Firstly, prepare your buying counterpart for the likely heat they’ll get from the competition (and their boss).  Ask them that now they’ve made the decision, are they ready for the competitor coming back to them or their boss and suggest that a bad decision’s been made?  The second is prepare them for what they’ll do if the other vendors come back with a price slash to tempt a change of decision.  This is so common it’s scary.  In my experience, thankfully, buyers are not swayed overall by the price falling through the floor in this scenario, but it can put back and seriously derail a sale for you.  So you must prepare the buyer for it, and the way recommended here is to lay the groundwork early on for thinking that at such non-existent margins, adequate service and back-up would not be available.

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