Sales Success

Myths About Persuasion

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We like to boil sales down to getting other people to change behavior. This “change” requires salespeople who are persuasive.

The Selling Power archives contain a quick-read article about persuasion. The focus is debunking myths that permeate sales cultures regarding how to be persuasive. There are 6 myths they note, but this one is preeminent:

2. If you give customers enough facts, you’ll get their business.

Wrong. People do not base their buying decisions on facts. Research shows that the first step in a decision process is emotional engagement. Without an emotional response at the outset, persuasion does not occur.

Absolutely true. People make decisions emotionally and justify them (later) intellectually. If you do not understand this fact, you will sell on features and benefits. This will work if you are selling to Mr. Spock, it will not work on humans. Successful salespeople know their Differentiating Value and they know their Critical Qualifying Questions. Those two items, when connected to an emotional response, guide the salesperson to qualify the prospect.

That ability leads into the author’s third point:

3. Some folks are natural salespeople.

No. Charisma and personality are helpful, but they do not guarantee success, particularly in complex or technical sales. Effective salespeople have certain habits and behavior in common – and that includes the so-called naturals, even if they’re not consciously aware of the habits and behavior.

Many truths to unpack in that paragraph. First, many people confuse charisma for competence when it comes to selling. This conventional wisdom couldn’t be more wrong. Sales are won by the salesperson who asks the right questions and listens closely. This leads to the second point that certain behaviors are key to success in sales. Stephen Covey used to say, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Understanding is key - the strongest salespeople are attentive to the prospect’s words which is conveyed by the salesperson’s body language, focus and responses.

All six of the points from the article are key. Persuasion is a process and the backbone of all successful selling.

Most CRO's Don't Know This Important Ratio

Seems simple, but here it is:

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Let me offer up some definitions of each box:

Connects: Cold contact from a list or similar resource

Suspects: Contacted and have general need or use for your product/service

Prospects: Qualified for need, budget & buying time

Quotes: Formal proposal to do business

Close: Completed order in response to quote

Again, this is a simple concept, but it is of great consequence when hiring salespeople.  We call it the Connects-to-Close ratio and it defines many of the parameters you need to use in your hiring efforts. 

There are many layers to the ratio that impact the sales skills, selling style and aptitudes to measure in any candidate.  Instead of getting lost in those weeds, let me boil it down to the essence of why you need to know this ratio:

You cannot ask a new salesperson to do something 10, 50, 100 times without first being able to explain it one time.

10 Rules for Losing in Business

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1. Quit Taking Risks!

2. Be Content!

3. Always ask yourself “What would the founder have done?”

4. Rely totally on research and experts to make decisions for you.

5. If you want to lose, be inflexible.

6. Concentrate on your competitor instead of your customer.

7. Put yourself first.

8. Administrative concerns take precedence over all others.

9. Look to someone else to do your thinking for you.

10. Memorize the motto, “That’s good enough.”


-Donald R. Keough, President, Coca-Cola, Inc.

CRO Rule #1 - Why Sales Training Doesn't Work

CRO Rule #1
If all four tires on  a car are flat, putting some air in one tire does not remedy the situation.  That is why companies know sales training alone doesn’t work, and it won’t until they implement the three remaining core processes of a closed-loop Revenue System.

I grant you it is a simple analogy, but you see the wisdom in it.  Revenue development has many components of which sales training is a singular piece to a larger puzzle.  Here is a graphic representation of a CRO’s role:

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These are the activities that lead to a closed-loop, Revenue-as-a-System engine that drives department-wide success.  The 5M’s Sales Process is a key component, but it is only 1 “tire” on the car.

Top 10 Signs Your Revenue System Needs Upgrading


1. Discounting is our primary closing strategy

2. All sales and marketing related promotional materials are feature / benefit focused.

3. Every sales presentation starts and ends with the company plaque in the lobby promoting the company’s on-going commitment to quality, service and support.

4. Forecast updates only require moving out the projected close dates.

5. New account business is on everyone’s goal sheet but we are not closing any new accounts.

6. Sales expense is the only number above plan.

7. Everyone in sales works a 40 hr. week as an account manager.

8. Reps say the sales cycle is getting longer due to all the new technology they have to explain first.

9. The names change on the forecast but the bottom line numbers don’t.

10. The only turnover in sales is with existing accounts.

Brand is NOT Differentiating Value


We spend a lot of time helping clients understand their Differentiating Value – what they bring to the market that is unique and/or better than the competition. The process is straight forward.

Differentiating Value is not:

  1. Features and benefits
  2. Value platform
  3. Brand
  4. Quality, service or support proclamations

Sales people have been trained to memorize and mimic the slogans and sound bites that always accompany these concepts. STOP! These exist in your world but not the prospect’s. If you base your positioning on these items, you will always enjoy longer sales cycles and perpetual discount requests – especially if your sales people lead with “We are the #1 brand in the market.”

Differentiating Value only exists in the prospect’s world – not yours. It is what the prospect is buying and that is typically not how you get paid. One of our clients is a materials science company that manufactures polymer pipe for the plumbing industry. Their engineered products allow homeowners to operate all water consumption devices (dishwasher, clothes washer, lawn sprinkler, etc.) concurrently and still have family and guests able to use all the showers in the house. Prospects are buying a convenience life style but the payment transaction is based on linear feet of pipe purchased. This is Differentiating Value.

Find a Phrase that Pays: Let your Differentiating Value be your Message


You’ve heard it before: the KISS principle is smart for business. Keep your message short and simple, but it’s equally as important to make it memorable.

So why do people in business continue to bury their prospects with an avalanche of words? It’s because they haven’t stopped to define what they’re bringing to their prospect’s world, and to see that value through the eyes of their ideal client. Never lose sight of the objective: prospects must understand what they will lose if they opt not to do business with you. It’s your differentiating value – the most important aspect you are bringing to them.

Now start the process to artfully craft your message/elevator pitch, keeping your differentiating value in mind. You’ll use this to drive your message without interruption, break the ice when networking, and build prospect traction with your business focus. The challenge is to get outside of your own thinking and start thinking in the client’s terms. Your differentiating value is what the client thinks and cares about. What would your current clients say about you? These thought points will help you to get going.

Define the purpose of your business. What value are you delivering to your client or customer? What would your current clients say about you?

Example:  We help other businesses find their ideal clients and grow.

Define how your business delivers. Go with the action verb(s) that convey(s) what the company does.

Example:  Our company…works with / builds / delivers / enables / ____________

Build a profile of your target market.  Ask questions:  What is the economic demographic? Annual revenue? Number of offices, employees, etc.

Think up as many questions as you like – you can have fun with this. Imagine what your ideal customer does throughout the day, and how your product or service fits in. Take it even further:  Consider anything that builds a true portrait of the organization / individual that is best suited for your product or service.

List what your prospects will lose by not using your product or service. You’re in business to solve a problem, right? So what problems will arise (or stick around) as a result of their declining your offering?

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Now you have the basic points for your phrase that pays.  But go deeper to ensure that your message always hits the mark.

  • Consider your intended audience. Who will read this and in what context? Are you going to use this as a mission statement on your website and throughout your sales and marketing materials? What tone will best present what your business is all about?

  • Make clarity your ultimate goal. Use terms that are easily relatable. Forget the grand words intended to dazzle, rather than relay. You don’t want the person hearing your message to gloss over mid-way through. Rather, you want them to ask for more.

  • Don’t have it all be about you. Prospects buy for their reasons – not yours.  Keep the focus on how you improve their business.  

  • Leave room for questions. The mechanics of what you offer can come later. Right now you want to engage your audience; make them ask you questions, don’t overwhelm or bore them – two true turnoffs.

  • Practice. If you’re going to be delivering before an audience, or one-on-one, practice saying it. Befriend your mirror; once you perfect your style of delivery, you’ll never walk away from a presentation wondering if you looked authoritative.

It won’t take long to get your message/pitch to a place where it comes naturally. Remember that if you’re not clearly and concisely translating what your product or service will do for your prospect, they are not going to do it for you. Get to the point and get your prospects engaged. Don’t waste time splashing around in the word waterfall!

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Chief Revenue Officer! B2B Success Model, Carl Moe, Eighth Edition, ©2016