7 Paradoxical Sales Principles


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sales principlesRecognizing and acting on these 7 paradoxical sales principles is critical to your long-term success.

1. To win more sales, stop selling.
When people feel like they’re being sold, they react negatively and put up barriers. Focus on helping your prospects achieve their business, professional and personal objectives – not making a sale.

2. To speed up your sales cycle, slow down.
The more quickly you push to a close, the higher resistance you encounter. Go one step at a time. When your prospects know you want to help them make the right decision, not a rash one, the process moves faster.

3. To make decisions easier, offer fewer options.
When you increase the complexity of the decision, you decrease the likelihood of winning the sale. To help your prospects move forward, give them less to choose from. Keep it simple – always.

4. To be more natural, prepare like crazy.
Today’s customers suffer no fools. If you’re not ready with the right message, questions or presentation, you’ll stumble or be stilted in your meeting. When you do prepare, you can be your best self.

5. To get bigger contracts, start smaller.
When you pursue the “whole shebang”, decisions are more complex and costly, making it much tougher to get approval. Reduce the risk by starting small and proving your capabilities. Then, it’s easy to grow.

6. To speed up your learning curve, fail fast.
It’s inevitable that you’ll make mistakes. So don’t wait till you’ve figured out the “perfect pitch” before moving forward. In sales, there is no failure – just lots of opportunities for experimentation, learning and growth.

7. To differentiate your offering, become the differentiator.
That’s the biggest reality in today’s market. Your products, services or solution are secondary to your knowledge, expertise and the difference you make for your customers. Invest time in yourself.

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Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Jill: I don’t want to detract from an otherwise excellent list of points, but I do strenuously disagree with #1. For whatever reason, ‘stop selling’ has been a popular mantra among sales advisors and others. I think it’s both hypocritical and unfair. Salespeople sell. It’s what their companies pay them for.

    What’s happened is that bad sales practices get conflated with selling in general, so the ‘stop selling’ message starts to come out. I think a less confusing, easier-to-grasp message is “stop selling the wrong way.” That makes sense.

    There are bad accounting practices, bad finance practices, bad medical practices . . . . the list is endless. But we don’t say “stop accounting,” etc. It’s important that we avoid sending such conflicted messages to sales professionals. My advice to salespeople–keep selling, and keep getting better at it!

    A related blog that I wrote: “Stop Selling: A Trendy Idea, But Bad Strategy”

  2. I don’t disagree with you, Andrew. But sometimes, if you want to catch people’s attention, you need to jolt them out of their complacency with “in your face” comments.

    For years I have fought the battle you describe. And “bad selling” is so stuck in people’s minds that the only way I can get them to behave differently is to tell them to stop, stop, stop.

  3. Andy, I agree with you. It’s a shame that “selling” has been equated with bad practices. Or at the very least, trying to convince customers to do something they don’t want to do.

    Wouldn’t it be great if selling could mean helping customers accomplish something? But unfortunately, for most people it doesn’t.

    So Jill, I agree with you too! “Stop selling” is one way to get sales people to pay attention to the changes needed.

    One thought — we need more stories of how the new improved non-selling selling actually works better than the old selling selling. Reps will gravitate towards techniques that help them make quota. So let’s profile reps that sell the “right” way and show how it’s good both for their customers and their quota attainment.

  4. There are exemplary salespeople whose sales practices are worth emulating. In order to counter some of the popular disparagement, this year I started to collect stories about people who embody many of the great things about selling, and wrote about them in a blog, But Wait, There’s More! Ten Visionary Salespeople Who Continue to Inspire..

    Interestingly, these stories are not difficult to find, and their ideals and approaches are not hidden. As a profession, we have to do a much better job of championing such individuals, and not just honoring those who ‘busted their number.’

  5. Andy, your post is great, but the people you mention are mostly celebrities and entrepreneurs selling to consumers.

    We need examples of in-the-trenches B2B reps (or sales teams) that succeed using the behaviors we are recommending.

    It’s fine to advocate for something, and I’m all for customer-centricity to be applied to sales (along with the rest of the organization). But old habits die hard, especially if they still work, and there are no role models to emulate.

  6. Bob: good point. In some ways, history has been kind to the individuals profiled. But to a person, none started out with celebrity status. They struggled many years before success was achieved. More important, achieving celebrity status was not the aim of their effort.

    The message to salespeople is not that they should aspire to become celebrities, but rather that there is powerful, powerful good in the world that salespeople can achieve, and much to be proud of in the sales profession. The thumbnails I provided don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the positive outcomes that salespeople create. Stories such as these deserve to be called out and championed, whether it’s a kid who helped his high school marching band with a fundraiser, a local non-profit director who sold an idea benefiting people in need, or a national B2B sales rep who was recognized by his or her customers as providing outstanding service.

    By the way, there is an organization that provides an award for sales excellence, the Institute for Excellence in Sales and Business Development. It’s the only organization I know of that looks beyond revenue. According to the website, “The IES&BD Awards are the only independent awards that promote and advance excellence in Sales & Business Development by recognizing companies and organizations who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and strategic vision in Sales & Business Development.”


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