The State of Sales Best Practices in 2014: a Learning Memo

Challenge the Status Quo and Sell insights, Not solutions

Compiled from various internal materials from my company’s (a leading Fortune 500 in software) structured sales methodology

60% of deal opportunities never go live because it’s easier to do nothing. 
As a salesperson, you must call the prospect to action through a step-by-step rhetorical process:
  • “Why change?” : challenge the prospect situation and highlight the risk of no action, showing how the customer’s reality is worse than they thought it was. You must establish yourself as a subject matter expert
  • “Why now?”: Status quo is unsafe but your company proposes a safe path they can follow, starting soon.
  • “Why us?”: leverages on your company’s value wedgewhere it solves an important problem for the prospect, with a defensible approachunique to your company. Use third-party data, testimonial, case study…

Forget PowerPoint

In nowadays’ attention economy (valuable, scarce), you must differentiate your message by first efficiently grabbing the prospect’s attention with an insight: you have 30 seconds to tell your customer something they don’t already know. 
Then, you must deliver a message that will be remembered. You must know that a good Powerpoint should have as many visual elements as possible and less text, but at the end of the day: people who know what they are talking about, don’t need PowerPoint.
You must learn and use the power of storytelling to engage your customer in a relevant and humane way: 
– think about “how can I tell them a great story?” and focus on the customer’s world in order to engage them, not your world.
– offer a point of view that demonstrates your expertise in 2 steps: 
1- show them your understanding of their business 
2- give them insights about what is going to happen. 
– deliver with your heart, using a whiteboard. 

Learn the Art of Improvised Persuasion

From an interview webinar in SoundView with Steve Yastrow (

  • What is improvisation?

It is not knowing what you are going to say next, and be totally comfortable with that. (Quote from Mike Napier, )

  • Yastrow recommends to create a set of new habit to create persuasive conversations:

#1: Think input about output: learn about your customer first.
#2: Size up the scene: figure out “who” before “what”
#3: Create a series of “Yes” (practicing the Yes, and technique…)
#4: Explore a
nd Heighten
: find out what the customer cares about and then take the conversation to the higher level, using the customer’s preferred path.
#5: Focus the conversation on your customer: make the conversation 95% about the customer, not about your offering.
#6: Don’t Rush the Story: ironically, you can slow the process if you rush too much. Don’t tell them everything (only what they need to hear to advance to the next step towards closing) & create callbacks: refer to important issues for your customer at regular intervals.

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