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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

The Tao and the Three Tipping Points in the Sales Process


There are moments in every endeavor that will ultimately determine your success. In sales, we teach there are seven steps; three of those involve direct contact with the client or prospect, and those are the three tipping points in the process. While reading The Tao of Leadership, I thought about how this ancient wisdom might also be applied to the sales process.

The three tipping points in sales are getting the appointment, the needs analysis meeting, and confirming your proposal. Let’s look at these through the eyes of Lao Tzu and his ancient advice in the Tao Te Ching, for what he might say today to a salesperson at each step:

1. Getting the Appointment:

Great perfection seems flawed.

Great eloquence seems inarticulate.

Many a salesperson has avoided or delayed approaching the prospect, or experienced call reluctance, because they don’t feel they have the perfect pitch, the perfect story, or the perfect valid business reason. Be sincere. Be honest. Perfection is overrated. If the prospect knew the real reason you want to meet with them, would they be more or less likely to say yes?

2. The Needs Analysis Meeting:

Those who know do not talk

Those who talk do not know.

Who should be doing most of the talking during a needs analysis? Right, not you, the prospect. If you know what you are there to find out, you shouldn’t need to talk beyond a few well-prepared questions, and a few insightful follow-up questions based on their responses. If you’re doing all the talking, you’ll be leaving without knowing.

3. Confirming the Proposal:

Plan difficult tasks through the simplest tasks.

Achieve large tasks through the smallest tasks.

As you address your client’s needs, break it down into manageable steps. We suggest a critical path that details when and by whom each step will be executed. Help make a seemingly difficult solution seem more affordable, more achievable, by breaking it into smaller tasks.

The Tao is often translated as “the way.” What is the way of your sales process? What wisdom are you following at each tipping point?

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