The 'Imperfect' Way to Sell

By Michael Perla on Jan 17, 2018

1 Minute Estimated Read Time

“The perfect is the enemy of the good.”

“The perfect solution never executed realizes no value.”

I’m always amazed in meetings with clients how much time is spent on wordsmithing[i] content.  It’s not that words don’t matter – they do – it’s just that fighting over different synonyms for the same concept feels pointless… or spending time trying to determine some perfect question to a prospect that accelerates the deal and saves the day.  Cut it out.

Anthony Iannerino recently wrote a blog entitled: “Stop Searching for the Perfect Way to Sell."  In it, he writes:

Selling is a complex, dynamic human interaction, which is to say, it doesn’t lend itself to a single right choice that covers all of the possible variables.  Because there is not one right choice for every situation, there is no perfect way; there are only choices.

Anthony also created a video entitled “There are No Magic Words."  In a nutshell, there is no perfect message or question for every selling situation.  As much as we strive for certainty and control in life, we must adapt to uncertainty and uncontrollables.

In sales we often focus on the wrong things:

  • We focus on our perfect product instead of the customer’s imperfect needs, which can be ‘messy,' ambiguous, and shifting.
  • We focus on our best price vs. how the customer will realize value and their return on investment.
  • We focus on articulating the perfect message or question vs. collaboratively exploring how the prospect or customer defines and measures value.

… you get the point.

Having interviewed 1,000+ high-performing sales professionals in my career, one of the things that has stood out is that the best ones feel like they have the tools and strategies to deal with whatever comes up.  The attitude is one of “I’ll deal with it” and “we’ll figure it out."  

It’s the confidence with knowing you have a large toolbox of stories, messages, and questions that can be adapted to whatever selling situation comes up.  If someone tells you that there is a perfect selling methodology, exercise program, or food you need to eat, I would want to know ‘perfect for what and for how long?’

[i] Technically, a wordsmith is a skilled writer and wordsmithing is not a word in a conventional dictionary.  It is a well-known word, however, used colloquially that means an often-pedantic focus on looking for the perfect word or edit that will complete the point, idea or sentence.


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Topics: selling skills

Michael Perla

Written by Michael Perla

Michael Perla is a contributing writer to Symmetrics Group's blog and co-author of the book "7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation." Michael specializes in providing actionable insights to marketing and sales organizations to help them increase pipelines, win ratios and productivity. In addition to working as a sales performance consultant, Michael has worked as a sales overlay, head of sales operations, and head of strategic marketing planning. Michael currently serves as a Director of Business Value Services at Salesforce.

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