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The Art of One-Up Sales: Why You Must Be One-Up Now and In the Future

My mission is to convince you that what matters now is whether you are One-Up or One-Down. But before we move forward, let’s define what makes you One-Up or One-Down.

One-Up: You are One-Up when you have greater knowledge and experience than your contacts when it comes to the decision they are considering. Being One-Up allows you to create greater value in the sales conversation. When you are One-Up, you have a tremendous advantage over your One-Down competitors.

One-Down: You are One-Down when you lack the knowledge and experience that you need to create value for your clients in the sales conversation. One-Down salespeople don’t know as much as their clients, which makes it difficult to help them make decisions with confidence. One of the reasons you lose deals to your competitors is that a One-Up salesperson will have little trouble beating you for a client or displacing you at one of your current clients.

Why Buyers Seek a One-Up Salesperson

Buyers seek a One-Up salesperson because they realize that they don’t know what they don’t know. Imagine your prospective client is failing and is considering a change in their business so they can produce the results they need. Because they have never made this decision, they are worried about making a mistake they can’t afford. To explore their options, the contacts will invite a number of salespeople to have a first meeting.

The One-Down salesperson is likely to have trouble getting a second meeting because they believe they are trying to cause the client to buy them. Meanwhile, the client is trying to learn what they need to confidently make a decision that will ensure they succeed in turning their business around. The reason the One-Down salesperson can’t command a second meeting is because they fail to prove they have valuable information and insights that will help with the client’s rare decision.

The One-Up salesperson will coast right through the first meeting to a second meeting. The average One-Up salesperson will prove they have the information and insights to fill gaps in the contact’s knowledge and experience. By proving there is information disparity, the salesperson can prove they know the client’s problem and the decision they are facing better than the client does. The salesperson has passed the test. As a result, the main contact will invite the rest of their stakeholders to join the second meeting.

Why the Legacy Approach Fails

I am qualified to speak on the legacy approach, as I practiced this approach for a number of years. In a legacy approach, you answer the question “Why us?” at the beginning of the sales process. You begin by explaining why your company is right for the client, offering a brief history of your company, followed by a list of your existing clients. After that, you introduce your solution and ask the client to disclose their problem. This approach allows you to sing the praises of your solution, making it more important than the client’s problem in your conversation. No matter how much experience you have, this approach will identify you as One-Down because it creates no value for your contacts.

It’s important that I remind you that your prospective client is trying to make a rare, strategic decision for their business and their results. I must also remind you that your clients aren’t trying to learn about your company and your solution. Instead, they are trying to learn what they need to know to move forward.

Why Modern Sales Methodologies Work for One-Up Sales Reps

When we talk about modern sales methodologies, we are referring to an approach that skips right past the legacy approach and begins with a conversation that proves the salesperson is an expert and an authority in their industry. Because you are One-Up, your contacts will appreciate your ability to lead them through a process that corrects the information disparity between you and them by transferring what you know to your contacts.

One-Up-ness is what buyers and decision-makers need from a salesperson. Those who are able to provide their contacts with advice, recommendations, and counsel have an easy time winning deals, even competitive deals, including those against competitors with a lower price.

The Current Environment Requires One-Up Sales Reps

The greater the uncertainty, the greater the need for One-Up salespeople. When your client must get a decision right on the first try, they are not going to trust a salesperson who isn’t able to provide them with the education they need to confidently make a decision to change. They will, however, have no trouble trusting the credibility of the One-Up salesperson.

Far into the future, our environment is going to be full of uncertainty. This means that the future belongs to those who are One-Up. Those who are One-Down will have a tough time in this environment.

Before you leave this article, assess whether you are One-Up or One-Down. If you are One-Down, it is important to know that everyone starts One-Down. You can move from One-Down to One-Up.

If you have a team that isn’t One-Up, you must provide them with the B2B sales training and sales enablement they need to develop into the salespeople your clients need.


Sales 2024
Post by Anthony Iannarino on May 19, 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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