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Maximize Your Sales Impact: Mastering One-Up Knowledge Transfer in Sales Conversations

Discover how mastering the art of One-Up knowledge can transform your sales approach and drive success.

The nature of being One-Up is that you know things your clients don’t or can’t know. Your client is One-Down because they lack the knowledge, experience, and insights one acquires while selling. If you believe this means your client is somehow lesser than you, know that you are often woefully One-Down compared with your client when it comes to knowledge, experience, and insights about their company and its tribal nature. Your client is One-Up there, which allows them to know what might work, what won’t work at all, who will go along with a change initiative, and who will try to shut it down.

Your sales conversation should have you transferring your One-Upness to your contacts and their teams. At the same time, your contacts should be giving you a world-class education about their company and their industry. Leaving a meeting, you and your contacts should know more than you did before and you should both be a bit more One-Up.

There are a number of ways you can generate a set of compelling insights. What follows are strategies you can use to enable this most modern sales methodology and your sales approach.

Leveraging Internal Insights for Competitive Advantage

If I were your sales leader, I would tell you and the rest of the sales force to sit in a big conference room, one big enough for everyone and a bunch of whiteboards. Your exercise here might start with answering this question: “What do our contacts not know that, if supplied with that knowledge, would enable them to improve their decisions and their desired outcomes?” It might take a couple of minutes to get started, as this isn’t something you do often enough to jump right into.

The reason you should start with insights that you already have is that a good number of these insights have already been paid for in the past. Often, what one person or a few have access to is a set of outcomes that have never been shared with their peers. By developing the rest of the team, you can improve your win rates, or what we call sales effectiveness.

Here is an insight I earned the hard way: My client wanted me to provide a certain, secret strategy, but the senior leader refused to include his sales managers in our conversations. As soon as we started our discussion without them, we ensured we would both fail each other.

Applying Contextual Insights to Overcome Sales Challenges

If you are not yet One-Up, you may not have a list of common assumptions clients hold that are difficult to erase and replace with something close to the truth. The challenge here is that when the contact was infected with the idea, it was true. But in our environment of accelerating, constant, disruptive change (the ACDC environment), things that used to be solid facts are no longer valid.

To overcome these outdated assumptions, you must build a set of insights that will erase and replace them. Some of these insights can melt outdated information. I discovered this idea in 2001, desperate to retain a large client that was close to firing me and my team. My client was a full-bird colonel from the Vietnam War and he had what we might call traditional views. His two assumptions were:

  1. Labor is abundant: My client was incorrect. At the time, he was woefully incorrect, as the number of available workers was uncommonly low.
  2. Labor is cheap: Naturally, as the number of workers plummeted, wages went up. He was paying less than welfare.

I decided to challenge his beliefs, false assumptions, and outdated beliefs. At the time, I hadn’t created the sales strategy I would eventually call context-locking. It would take me eight months to execute this strategy. After I successfully changed my client's beliefs, he gave me the investments I needed to get him the people he needed—and to prevent me from being fired.

At the end of the year, my client called me to ask when I was going to brief all four of his companies about what they would need to do in the following year. He must have heard me hesitating to answer, because I had no intention of doing the briefing four more times. But it worked to ensure the client stayed up to date with the changes they would need to make.

Extending Your Sales Insight beyond Traditional Boundaries

For more than a year, I have implored salespeople to do the reading and research on the companies and industries they serve, including the insights about their challenges, problems, and why they have trouble improving their results. Between AI, Google, and research, you can build a set of insights that will increase your sales status, making you the best salesperson your contact has ever encountered.

I have built a number of AI prompts to make it easier to do this work. I have also built a couple of prompts for large companies that are traded on exchanges. This doesn’t prevent me from carefully ensuring the data is true and still published. I use much of this research in executive briefings that change the relationship with your contacts and decision makers. You will not find these strategies in an average B2B sales training.

Leaving this article, you should explore the insights you can use to help your clients make good decisions. This is your obligation if you want to be a trusted advisor. It may take time and help to gain the insights that create value and create a preference to buy from you.


Sales 2024 One-Up
Post by Anthony Iannarino on April 21, 2024

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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