Make Your Sales Stick

One of the top books I’ve read over the past few years is “Made to Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath – and although most of the book and ideas are focused around how to make new products ‘stick’ in a particular market, I think some of the ideas can be applied to sales.

I’m always looking for new and different ways to reframe how we apply learning in the world of sales, and looking for new ways to explain why customers buy and what we can do as sales teams to improve how we align with those buying patterns.

So, if we look at the core ideas below from Made to Stick – you can instantly see how these ‘rules’ can be applied to sales activities.


Made to Stick – the ‘Succes’ formula

  • Simple – find the core of any idea
  • Unexpected – grab people’s attention by surprising them
  • Concrete – make sure an idea can be grasped and remembered later
  • Credible – give an idea believability
  • Emotional – help people see the importance of an idea
  • Stories – empower people to use an idea through narrative


(Heath & Heath)



Finding the core of any idea

What’s more frustrating than speaking to a sales rep who tells you hundreds of facts, figures, stats, and points about their product.  Not many sales execs are good at finding the core of an idea – they make propositions too complicated, and they include too much info.  We are simple beings, and we need simple messages.



Grabbing your audience’s attention

The reason why most of our customers have chosen to partner with us is because we are unexpected.  They didn’t expect our sales guy to visit them over the weekend to help them wire up their new datacentre, and they didn’t expect the Jonathan Palmer Race Day experience invite.  It’s not just about unexpected gifts, but it’s also about taking a different approach to how you sell.  Be unexpected, delight your customers – make them smile.



Make your idea memorable

Once you’ve done your presentation and you walk out the door, that customer you’ve just met goes back into their world.  That world might include catching up with voicemails missed during your meeting, or dealing with a problem that’s keeping them up at night.  How does your message break through all of that so that they remember it?  If it sounds vaguely similar to most of your competitors, then it’s unlikely they will be able to differentiate between you and your competitor a week later.  So instead, think about how you can simplify your message down and present it in a way that sticks.

One of our best sales reps mapped out a customer’s new IT solution using coasters, pens and whatever was to hand in a meeting – as a way of visualising a new solution for a customer.  This was memorable as it required the customer to physically engage in designing their own solution – it was an interactive process whereas a traditional PowerPoint presentation is often a one-way conversation from presenter to audience.



Give an idea believability

How do you demonstrate credibility to your customer? Could it be by sharing interesting customer anecdotes (and we’re not talking about a boring case study) – or inviting an existing happy client to come along to a meeting with a new customer?  Or perhaps get a customer to record a quick personalised video message in preparation for your meeting?  Customers want to feel reassured that they are making the right choice, don’t make it difficult for them to find the info they need to make that choice.



Help people see the importance of an idea

In sales, it’s important to develop an emotional connection between what you’re selling and your buyer.  Your product or service will have a business impact on your customer’s organisation and job, but it will also have an emotional impact on your buyer – they have a very important choice to make.  If they make the wrong choice, it will have both business and personal ramifications for them.  They might not be put in charge of selecting a new supplier in future, or perhaps their confidence in managing large projects where they are the decision maker will be dented.  Understand the emotional impact of your service, but also the emotional opportunity of your product.  What could they achieve with your product? What would it mean for them personally?



Empower an idea through narrative

Perhaps the most important one of all: stories.  We talk a lot about story-telling in sales, but do you actually do it?  How could you shake up your traditional customer presentation by making it story-centric – could all the same points be told by telling your customer a story about how you helped someone before and talk them through that particular story?  Moving away from information overload, and to a valuable story that captures your customers’ attention is the only way to form true connections with buyers and help them to better understand your business, your product and your value to them.


What do you think? Have you read Made to Stick? Do you think it applies to the world of sales?


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