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There are no “Cheat Codes” in Sales: How to Move from No-Win to Win-Win

There are no “Cheat Codes” in Sales: How to Move from No-Win to Win-Win


I’m a fan of the long-running BBC television series Dr. Who.  Since November 1963, time lord Dr. Who has used two of the ultimate cheat codes: a tardis for time travel, and regeneration of himself into a new incarnation if he is injured or near death. Long before players were discovering cheat codes in video games like Minecraft and Doom, Dr. Who was using his to reset no-win scenarios.

In sales, there are no cheat codes that magically fast-track you to a win. If you try to skip levels of trust or time-travel too quickly to a close, it’s likely to backfire. Fortunately, there are ways to move away from no-win and toward win-win.

Focus on Why

“Start with Why” author Simon Sinek notes that “very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do … And WHY should anyone care?” When your prospect disengages or hesitates, you may be moving too quickly into what (features and benefits) or how (closing).

Here’s a transition I used recently to refocus on why: “I sense that there are business issues or priorities we haven’t talked about. I value your honesty, and if you’re open to discussing them, I’m ready to listen.”

A candid dialogue adds a deeper level of trust to your relationship.

Show Your Character

When your sales process stalls, you can’t regenerate like Dr. Who. But you can be intentional about showing your character through what you do, how you do it and why you do it. Character erodes when your words and actions don’t match. Here are a few ways to keep sales-slowing character lapses in check:

  • Keep your word. If you commit to follow up in two days, act in two days.
  • If you don’t keep your word, own it. Acknowledge the gap between your word and actions.
  • Rethink the wiggle room of under-promising and over-delivering: close the gap between your words and actions.

Make Space for Your Prospect’s Point of View

While you’re working through your sales process, your prospect is immersed in a parallel universe—their purchase cycle. If your process and their cycle aren’t in sync, it’s easy for a no-win situation to develop. Here are some of the key phases of the purchase cycle:

  • Determining the buying decision makers and influencers
  • Identifying the impact on specific systems and processes
  • Assessing current workarounds and their costs
  • Getting support for making the changes that a purchase will trigger

Ask questions based on your prospects purchase cycle, and align your sales process.

The first incarnation of Dr. Who observed, “In 900 years of time and space, I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important.” The same is true of your prospects, and the focus, character and point of view of your interactions with them.

Elizabeth Usovicz

Written by

Elizabeth Usovicz is principal of WhiteSpace Consulting®, specializing in top-line revenue strategies, business development coaching, qualitative research and strategy session facilitation. She can be reached at elizabeth@whitespacerevenue.com or (913) 638-8693.

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