Sales Advice Sales Tips

Let the Customer Sell

Ever wonder how you could decrease your sales cycle and at the same time increase the probability of closure? I have a tip that might allow you to accomplish just that.

Forget about writing proposals that are haphazardly read, instead, engage the customer, and let him do the selling. I used this method when I sold software to a hospital in South Carolina. Here’s how I did it.

image1First, I called the customer and set the appointment, but at the same time made sure I had a fairly good understanding of their IT infrastructure. On the day of the meeting, I cut right to the chase, went straight to their white board and began drawing their system in block diagram. If you have ever given a technical presentation to a group of IT professionals, then you know to expect interruptions; and that is exactly what I got.

I was immediately challenged for the board marker, which I happily relinquished. After all, this was my goal, Customer involvement. The customer then began to draw the infrastructure and all I did was to inject where our equipment would reside and how the benefits would be overwhelmingly positive for what they were seeking to accomplish. This allowed me to engage the customer, make him part of building “his own solution” which gives a greater sense of value in the end.

The greater good here is the ability to show and engage a wider audience for buy-off and at the same time it uncovers holes in what would have been a flat presentation if delivered in the typical paper form. If your design is off target it allows you to adjust, showing the client you do understand and care about their business processes. This way, you don’t mandate change, you solicit support for change.

image2If this is shot down in committee or by finance, I guarantee this group will fight tooth-n-nail to get it approved. I have actually seen the customer make a better case for ROI than I ever could.

This method can work if you sell over the phone too. You just have to ask the customer to describe their current situation and then ask if you could email or fax what you have to make sure you understood their requirements. Bottom line, Get the customer involved!


Using this method in as many cases as possible will decrease the sales cycle time simply by taking the onus off the customer to read your proposal. Admit it, would you want to read it? Hope you are able to use this and if you are, let me and others know by posting your comments. Maybe you used something similar? Hey, we want to know that too!

Happy Selling!

Ed Warner

3 replies on “Let the Customer Sell”

Great advice! I see too often the customer being told what they need rather than what they want. I totally agree that the right thing to do from the beginning is involve the prospect.

If they build it how can they then refuse to buy it? Good stuff!


Hi Ed! This is great advice, and you are so right about involving the prospect, which I always do verbally. I’m sure it works even better to involve them in drawing it out. I’m going to incorporate this right away – in fact, I have to give a PowerPoint Presentation to our company president today, and I’m going to start by white-boarding his ficitious company’s current situation and where we’d bring value. Thanks for the post!

Interesting! I have read a couple of your articles and specifically this one. I see you superbly present the nuances in the sales world, specifically consultative selling. I used a very similar technique in which I presented one typical issue of their manufacturing facility followed by hypothetical common sense scenarios, and I saw participants from different departments started participating making the whole discussion richer … ended up winning the buy-in of the much greater audience than I otherwise could.

Keep writing!


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