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While the One-Up approach to sales is more than just a state of mind, like all effective approaches, it starts with a mindset. The One-Up mindset embodies the values, duties, and obligations of the One-Up salesperson's responsibilities.


  • I am One-Up when I know more than my client: The reason I am able to help my clients improve their results is because there is an information disparity: my knowledge and experience is unavailable to and unknown by my client. The transfer of my knowledge and experience corrects the information disparity and removes the client from the state of being One-Down.
  • I am One-Down when my client knows more than me: My client knows more than I do about their company, their stakeholders, their industry, what is possible, what may not be possible, and how to best get things done inside their four walls. By asking my client to provide me with information unknown and unavailable to me, I remove myself from being One-Down.
  • I am One-Up when I make good use of the sales conversation: Instead of offering the client the same conversation that they might expect of a One-Down salesperson, I make good use of the client’s time by eliminating any and all conversations that are not valuable to the client. Instead, I differentiate and position myself as the person best suited to be a long-term partner and trusted advisor. I recognize that my clients cannot experience the value of the solution until they use it, and creating value in the sales conversation is the variable as to what they buy and who they choose as a partner.

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  • I make sense of a complex and uncertain environment: Because my clients are head down, running their businesses, being One-Up means I read and study the trends and forces that might harm their results or provide opportunities they might exploit. Because I have a richer perspective through my experience and my insights, I make sense out of complexity and uncertainty, helping my clients to act by providing them certainty.
  • I create a paradigm shift by helping my clients discover something about themselves: The One-Down salesperson believes that discovery means asking clients questions that will provide them with information, especially about the client's problem. They often avoid exploring problems that are not addressed by their product or solution. As a One-Up salesperson, I ask questions that cause the client to learn something about themselves and the true nature of their challenges, allowing them to see something that is unavailable using the One-Down approaches.
  • I create value by helping my client decide to change: Because I am One-Up, my obligation to my clients includes helping them change before external or internal forces cause them to change on a timeline they didn’t choose. The One-Down salesperson believes the clients must know they have a problem before they can help them improve their results.
  • I lead my clients through the buyer's journey: Because I am One-Up when it comes to the buyer's journey, I am the best person to provide the client with advice and recommendations that ensure their success. This means having conversations that would improve their decisions and, eventually, their results—even if it’s tempting to skip these discussions.
  • I differentiate my company and what we sell by teaching models: The One-Down salesperson believes the story about their company, their founder, their clients, and their products and services are ways to differentiate. In doing so, they fail to recognize that they are “differentiating” in exactly the same way as their competitors. As a One-Up salesperson, I know how to triangulate my competitors by teaching my clients how best to assess the different models and the various concessions that are part of the each. Not only does this help my client to make a good decision, it also eliminates One-Down competitors.


  • I create value for my clients by helping them improve their results: The One-Down salesperson limits their view of the problem to what might be improved by their product or service, excluding the changes the client needs to make outside of the what the One-Down salesperson sells. By contrast, the One-Up salesperson helps the client make the changes necessary to produce the better results, this holistic and comprehensive approach makes me the best possible partner.
  • The greatest value I create is not selling my product or service: Those who are One-Down believe the value they create is found in their company, their products, and their services. They are unable to create enough value to be preferred, and sadly, they will never be considered a trusted advisor or consultative salesperson. Because I am One-Up, the value I create is my counsel, my advice, and my recommendations. This value is even greater than the value of what I sell, because it allows me to create a greater level of value and a preference to buy from me.

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Post by Anthony Iannarino on May 22, 2022

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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