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Uncover the secrets of transitioning from a One-Down to a One-Up sales approach to revolutionize your B2B sales performance.

It is important to recognize the value of being One-Down. When you are ignorant, you lack the knowledge or experience you need to be One-Up. The great benefit of being One-Down is that you can learn something helpful. Those who recognize that being One-Down is often better than being One-Up, prefer to be the recipient of new knowledge or experience instead of providing the information to another.

Here, we are faced with the One-Down problem. The One-Down problem occurs when a B2B salesperson lacks the knowledge and experience they need to be One-Up. Unable to provide the client with what they need to pursue a change initiative, they treat what should be a consultative conversation into a transactional approach.

Navigating Client Dynamics in Sales

It is not uncommon for a salesperson to believe their client knows more than they do, and a great number of salespeople defer to their client, who is by nature One-Down. The reason your clients are almost always One-Down is that they rarely make the changes they are facing to produce an important outcome.

The problem with deferring to the client is that they are looking to you to help them understand how best to make change. A sales rep should be answering questions, or more still, providing the education the client needs to move forward.

The deferential salesperson will lose to a One-Up salesperson who knows the client expects them to lead a sales conversation that will provide the knowledge and experience that gives them the confidence and certainty they need to buy.

 Enhancing Curiosity in Sales

The uninquisitive salesperson is always One-Down because they are not curious. They have little interest in learning what they don’t know, so they don’t do the reading that would position them to help their clients. Nor do they research their clients or the challenges their industry is experiencing.

A lack of curiosity will keep the salesperson One-Down, with little chance of being able to perform as well as they would need to win the client’s relationship and their business. Meanwhile, the One-Up salesperson continues to acquire more knowledge and experience, increasing their chance to win any contest with a One-Down rep.

Overcoming Transactional Tendencies in Sales

The One-Down salesperson, lacking the ability to help the client with what they need, does what they know how to do. First, they’ll try to build personal rapport, without making any connection to business. When they finish wasting the contact’s time, they position their company using a slide with all the famous logos the company serves. After that, they position their solution.

The reason a One-Down salesperson fails is that their view of the sales conversation is outdated. The older your sales approach, the more it will feel transactional to the prospective client. It is easy to lose a potential client when your approach can’t provide the client with what they need. There is always a One-Up salesperson that can take better care of the client and their needs.

Meeting Modern B2B Sales Expectations

There are still those who believe that neither B2B buying nor B2B sales have changed in the last 60 years. During the greatest rate of change in our environment, your buyers have raised the bar on what they want and need from sales organizations and the salespeople they provide to their prospective clients.

The One-Down sales reps that show up on the client’s doorstep lack the information and insights their contacts expect of them. Many people will weigh in on a decision, including leaders and the teams that are impacted by a change. They have high expectations for anyone they decide to trust to help them improve their business.

Embracing the One-Up Advantage in Sales

Those who are One-Up are everything those who are One-Down are not. This is not to say that any salesperson can’t be a good, sincere person who is trying their best for their company and their clients. But without being able to lead the client, and close the gaps in their knowledge and experience, a One-Up salesperson will.

The reason the One-Up salesperson has an extreme, sustainable advantage is that they have done the work to be an expert and an authority. When facing a rare decision that must be made under uncertainty, buyers seek someone who can help them make sense of the situation. In every industry, there are more than enough One-Up salespeople. You will find these sales professionals at the top of the stacked ranking.

Salespeople who sell for the same company, work for the same manager, call on the same types of clients, and compete against the same competitors, may not all be One-Up. Those who are not find themselves much lower on that same stacked ranking. Success in B2B sales is individual.

If you are not yet One-Up, do everything you can to acquire the knowledge and experience you need to be the best and most helpful salesperson your client has ever seen by filling in the gaps in your experience and theirs. If you want greater success in sales and to increase your earnings, the path to these outcomes runs straight through your dedication to becoming One-Up.


Sales 2024 One-Up
Post by Anthony Iannarino on January 30, 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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