It would be a lot easier to live in a business world without competitors. You could spend your time creating truly valuable solutions for your customer, knowing that you would get the return you deserve. In the real word, however, as you strive to maximise your sales and win as many of them as possible, you need to put in place the best strategy for each opportunity.

A lot of historical business strategy theory borrowed from the military strategist Sun Tzu, the author of The Art of War. He has fallen from favour somewhat in the last few years as business has moved to a more collaborative environment. ‘There are no competitors, only potential partners’ is a refrain you’ll sometimes hear.

Here, however, are three of the key principles documented by this Chinese warrior two-and-a-half thousand years ago, adapted for sales opportunities, that I think still have validity:

– Know your product (or service), your customer, and your competition, and you need not fear the result of a hundred sales opportunities
– Know only your product (or service) and not the customer or the competition, and for every victory gained, you will suffer a defeat
– If you don’t know your product (or service), your customer, or your competition, you shall succumb in every battle

In other words, do your homework and planning and your effort will be rewarded.