Focus on HOW: Reset


Hello friends! If we were face to face, I’d treat you to a hot cup of coffee – what is your favorite roast this time of the year? I’m in love Maple Lattes with extra espresso.

I wanted to catch up and give you an update on what I’ve been up to and the exciting new chapter of Adele Lassiter Coaching and my Focus on How method.


In April I transitioned to an exciting role at Salesforce – the #1 CRM in the world! I was drawn to Salesforce because of their focus on putting clients first and creating a culture of innovation. Citrix was my undergrad in sales, but I chose Salesforce to be my masters and Ph.D path for becoming the best sales professional I can be.

And while my blog is separate from my work Salesforce and my opinions on the blog are my own, I’ve been in a ‘sales bootcamp’ during my first six months working for a company that puts clients first and focuses on value selling. I’ve learned a lot in the field the past few months, from cold calling to figuring out market research. Sales is never boring. It demands a kinetic energy – even the best performers cannot be static or rely on the status quo because at the end of the day the market is always adjusting. You need to be keenly aware of shifts and also being able to throw your pride out the window when your perfectly honed sales skills (ahem my cold calling) aren’t producing the same results they used to.

Sales demands focusing on how we can improve and grow constantly. Sales is truly a career for lifelong learners, driven by purpose and curiosity.

When I started Adele Lassiter Coaching – I wanted to create a forum for knowledge sharing – where I could provide insight from my successes and failures in the field. Every successful sales professional finds mastery in their craft, not by quick wins- but through fortitude, constant ingenuity, patience and the ability to listen and learn from others.

In taking on my new AE role, I realized: I needed to take time to FOCUS on How to scale my new job, as well as my side hustles and professional endeavors outside of work.

Focus on scalability and the epicenter of purpose is important, without losing sight of your goal.

I have have lot of hobbies and professional goals: I am a singer-songwriter, a novelist, an artist, a travel blogger and a sales coach and account executive…add in family and faith responsibilities – time management is KEY.

Prioritizing is a foundation of HOW to find success and avoid burnout. While I can build time to scale for my various goals simultaneously, I also realized that sometimes we need to set up a queue for goals bound with accountability.

I reviewed my personal and professional ‘why’ and what it would take drive my goals forward. Financial security is key and that comes from success at work. Professional development is a core why that drives me –

While my passion for mentoring sales professionals runs deep, I realized that in order to find success at Salesforce I needed to focus on my new role and dive into the firehose of learning. I focused on my WHY in the moment – learning and growing professionally through immersion in my new sales role in a top tech company for innovation. I focused on giving my all to my clients and going above and beyond to provide the best experiences for their business success.

I’ve been tested…transitioning from being an expert at a former company to a new hire is HARD. It takes time and focus on both the immediate now with the perspective of the greater journey. I love that Salesforce uses the Trailhead motif – as a hiker I often equate sales to climbing a mountain. You need to focus on each bend and break on the rocky trail to keep your footing, but you power through because you know the end result is the mountaintop view.

Outside of Sales:

I released my first novel, ‘Solitude Lake,’ under my pen name Adele Darcy. Launching a book and promoting it takes a lot of energy. I have been digging into understand Amazon and SEO.

I’ve built my travel blog American Nomad with over 10,000 miles of adventure since December 2021. I continue to post travel posts bi-weekly including my new coffee blog: Destination Coffee

Adele Lassiter Creative – I started selling my contemporary impressionism paintings on Etsy in January. I’ve built a brand on facebook and Instagram (still a process) and continued to grow as an artist. I’m excited to announce that I recently had my first public art show in the RDU area.

I look forward to diving back into The Focus on How method in the coming weeks and re-launching my YouTube site. Exciting things are coming for the blog and I invite you into the journey.

Adele Lassiter Coaching – Let’s RESET:

I am excited to RESET my Focus on HOW blog series on Adele Lassiter Coaching

What’s brewing for ALC (Adele Lassiter Coaching)?

  • bi-weekly blogs
  • Virtual Coffee Sessions on LinkedIn Live (each session will feature a delicious coffee and great content from sales professionals)
  • interviews with sales experts
  • relaunching my YouTube channel (November)
  • quick ‘Focus on How’ power videos
  • bi-monthly podcast (by January 2023)

I look forward to taking this journey with you!

What is Value?

Earlier this week a colleague posed the question -‘How do you define value beyond product buzzwords? I see so many organizations that claim to sell value – but all they do is product pitch while repeating the word ‘value.'”

What a great question to dig into. In order to be successful they need to build value – value leads to customer acquisition and retention. But simply using the word value to describe features is just product pitching 2.0. Clients see through this:

Example: The value here is that we have an Outlook Plugin

  • Why is that valuable? Value goes beyond the surface and quantifies their need and business outcome with how your product provides that ROI
  • Value selling is about connection and demonstrating an understanding of HOW your solution resolves their problem and provides a need/payoff
  • Example: The value is that the Outlook Plugin provides the encrypted and compliant email you need for healthcare records. This saves you three hours a week because without this solution you are having to upload that information to flash drives/CDs and take it to the post office. You will set a cost savings of $100 a week in shipping/material costs while also being able to repurpose that available time into billable hours.
  • Framework: The value is that our product can help you achieve _ and _ business outcome and net + ROI. This is quantifiable and tangible value – as a consultant you speak to that value specific to their needs but also as a consultant to who has expertise in their industry and has seen the positive value added at similar organizations (tell a story – use your experience)
  • Example: I worked with a large regional hospital last year that was in a similar situation to your current workflow -everything was paper based and they’d scan the data into their server then burn CDs to send to other practices. They would snail mail records. We were able to do a case study on their use of the Outlook Plugin and they were able to cut ten hours a week of paper processing via emailing records. They cut their shredding and paper/ink fees by 75%. The staff was able to use the additional ten hours per week to have more meaningful interactions with patients and also add 2 additional appointments per day – which not only benefited the patient but helped drive revenue to the hospital/practice
  • Value selling is demonstrating the true impact of how transitioning to a new system/set-up can improve a business. While you might feel like you are selling ‘the art of the possible’ – value selling provides a framework for the client on HOW they can turn the possible into a productive reality.

In theory once you have created value – showing ROI and impact that the client will sell themselves on the solution because the pain of doing nothing is far more expensive (time, effort, cost) than investing in your solution.

And while this does happen, even the best value sellers get objections – because as rational and scientific as you can break down value – at the end of the day people are emotional buyers. They have a pendulum of ‘rational’ and ’emotion’

So value selling also must also attach itself to the emotional value of the client needs and expectations – which is hard.

Emotional value needs to be established with The WHY (Focus on How) in the Discovery Stage – understanding the whole picture behind ‘Why’ change matters to them – what their motivations and concerns are will empower you to provide value to their unique emotional and business needs.

Value is established from the research you do in discovery. To truly sell value – you need to constantly listen to understand and provide expertise as an industry consultant who can empower the client to purchase the technology they need. Value selling demands recommending the best options and partnering in that conversation with the client. You are not trying to convince them in the sleazy sales way – but rather inform and advise from a place of understanding and expertise.

Value selling is not about PRICE negotiation – granted pricing and budget negotiation is part of even the best sales cycle – but you will never truly win a deal if you focus on the ‘Value of Price’

Value selling has nothing to do with the cost of a solution – the price tag? That seems counterintuitive, but it is an essential fact in technology sales.

When shopping at the mall (or online in this modern era) shoppers often gauge the price and how much they will use the item. However…ask yourself this – how many times have you gone into a store (let’s say Target) and you need new towels – but you see a new gadget. You rationally know you need to purchase towels, but your emotions kick in and suddenly you are thinking about want versus need. The value of want is at play. Buyers start arguing on ‘why’ they can purchase something that isn’t really what they need because the want exists.

Your clients will come in with the same mindset with technology sales – you need to establish their needs, budget and requirements – but also tie those qualifications to the ‘feeling’ aspect.

What do they need and what do they want and WHY? How does achieving those outcomes make them feel? That is an extra layer of value selling that can set you apart and truly meet the customer at the crossroads of ‘want and need’ to empower them to make the best business decision.

Ex: Their have a compliance requirement which you address, but the idea of spending money on that solution gives the owner a headache because the staff really wants a new and improved breakroom. Without compliance they could go under – but he wants to remodel the breakroom.

By displaying how the encrypted email can help with compliance, but also save time and reduce cost – you can then tie that value to using the ROI and savings to be applied to other business initiatives like the breakroom.

How do you sell value?

Personally my main goal in every interaction is to truly connect and understand my clients needs/wants and how we can build a bridge to a better future state. Value really starts in listening to understand in discovery, creative selling (thinking outside the box) and demonstrating that value with actionable steps.

Thanks for reading and look forward to hearing from you. Please share and connect with me on LinkedIn

Focus on How: Data Mindset and Customer Impact

You’ve investigated the WHY through deep discovery with your client focusing on:

  • Their why – what drives their business? What is the client’s personal and professional why? Why now? Why change? Understanding the layers of ‘why’ behind what motivates the client’s emotional and business perspective is key to navigating the sales cycle
  • Compelling Event
  • Required Capabilities
  • Budget
  • Decision making process
  • Timeline
  • Business Objectives
  • Competitors

You effectively built value in discovery by tying your client’s why to how your solution can align with their objectives. Quality discovery has led the client to continue on the sales journey – requesting a solution presentation and demo.

In this gap between Discovery (The Why) and demonstrating – the ‘How,’ sales professionals often get caught up in the adrenaline of a ‘hot deal’ and jump overboard before they have a strategic and relevant game plan on how they plan to present the ‘how’ in action.

We get caught up in the great rapport and thinking about all the ways ‘we can help’ – the relevant features and commission that in theory we have the PO laid out before we’ve presented anything. Every sales professional has fallen into this trap (myself included).

Often because we overestimate the value we built on the initial call.

Just because a client sees the value – doesn’t mean they are attached to it – that is a longer dance. Think of planting seeds – it takes time for the roots to take hold and assuming just because you planted the ‘value’ – doesn’t mean the value supersedes the status quo/competition.

I bring this up because – in many ways discovery is the most important part of the sales cycle – it helps you truly meet the customer where they are and understand their ‘why’

A hard lesson (and one I still need practice as I preach) is the need to pause (albeit briefly) between Discovery (The Why) and ‘The How’ – Solution Selling (Demo and value negotiation before contract is signed).

Pause. Sales professionals hate that – we want to move forward, but it is important to pause and plan – reflecting on what you learned in Discovery and breaking it down – not from your point of view (happy ears – ready for PO) but the POV of your client.

Step in their shoes – what is their WHY? How can you answer their WHY? What impact can your solution provide? What hesitations would you have about purchasing your product if you were in their position? What are the strengths (positive outcomes), weaknesses (how does your solution fall short – how can you proactively overcome that), opportunities (ability to positively transform their business) and threats (competition/status quo/lack of product understanding/don’t have the budget or right decision maker.)

Reflecting on the discovery having HAVING A DATA MINDSET empowers you to truly bring value in follow-up conversations. You can take what you heard (active listening) and apply that understanding to preparing a relevant and targeted solution presentation that speaks directly to the unique needs of your buyer.

Data Mindset empowers you to reflect and understand the impact of the Discovery/Why – to answer this critical question: How will the customer be different as a result of doing business with us?

The job of a salesperson isn’t to sell – selling is the result of our work – but our job is to build value and connect the customer needs with our solution. This is why the ‘Data Mindset’ step in Focus on HOW is so important in your sales cycle. You need to understand the problems, customer wants and needs and how you can effectively implement meaningful change – to the emotional and objective why.

I am not a data driven person – but being data driven doesn’t mean you are a statistician speaking like a robot – rather having a data mindset means you are willing to truly think about what was said objectively and empathetically and strategically use that information to build a path forward for your client.


  • Take time to relisten to the call and take additional notes
  • Think about the why behind each answer? Why is faxing a problem for the staff when they need to send medical records? Why is the inability to streamline documentation a problem for their business? What is the pain – how is this impacting the champion, DM and their customers
  • How do they make money – how can our ROI impact their bottom line
  • Listen for subtle cues and expressed pain
    • Why is that bottleneck or positive outcome important to them personally? What stake do they have in resolving this ‘Why’
  • What goals do they have and what is the why driving those unique goals?
  • Sync up with team members (Sales Engineer, FSM, Managers) before the solution presentation so you can prepare for the follow-up with intention.
  • Create your own ‘Why’ answering: Why is this important to the customer? Make your why be customer centric – value selling demands that you focus on the client need. Prioritize Intent: your ‘Why’ is simply I want to get commission – the deal will not go smoothly because your priorities are off kilter. Yes commission/quota is important and it will come – but when you focus on your personal goals over the client’s you will not effectively communicate value and end up losing the deal. Align your why with providing a solution that positively impacts the client and their unique goals.

Data Mindset in short: pause, reflect on discovery by listening to understand and formulate and action strategy on how to best communicate how we answer their why. How will the customer be more successful because of our solution and what impact do we bring?

Thanks for your support and look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Closing Conversations

The end goals of every sales person is closing a deal and empowering clients to solve their business problems. The art of the close is a balancing act. Closing is often associated with the final signed contract, it actually should be layered through the sales cycle.

Stop thinking of ‘closing’ as a one time event and see it instead the culmination of the deal cycle. Think of your sale cycle as building a house – each day you are building on top of the foundation. You follow a blueprint and at times adjust the plans based on new information within the process. During the building process you don’t second guess that at the end of construction the house will be completed.

I use this analogy because to succeed in the close you need to strategically focus on building the proper foundation to close. The steps involved in this vary depending on product and deal complexity. Regardless of how transactional the sales cycle is -value and preparation leads to successful closes.

Most sales professionals enjoy having conversations about product and building rapport with clients because it doesn’t feel pushy. However when it comes to asking for a client’s business and money it often feels awkward and forced, especially when we haven’t built the proper foundation to roll into a close and ask for the business.

When you focus on building value and how the direct positive business impacts you solution provides their business – the close isn’t so much asking for the sale as ‘advising with authority’ that you solution will exceed their needs. Building the proper foundation for a close through discovery and preemptive objection handling establishes you as a partner – who is not trying to sell as much as help the client decide on how to purchase technology.

While discovery and proactively providing value to the pain (overcoming objections before they even arise) – are critical, it is also important to be transparent and candid with clients about the end goal:

“We want to win your business and at the end of your research we want you to purchase our solution” – I paraphrase this, but the point is that you can still be a ‘counselor-style’ salesperson and be direct. It is the intention that matters here. Gracious transparency and genuine desire to ‘win their business’ as the best vendor to solve their unique business problems.

You don’t test drive a car without expecting the dealership to ask if you are ready to purchase it…the same goes with technology sales. The key is your approach, be genuinely interested and transparent.

Two closing methods that empower counselor sales professionals are the ‘Trial Close’ and ‘Service Close.’

Trial Close:

  • It is important to be direct in discovery to find out if the client is actually intending to purchase technology or are they just ‘window shopping.’ As simple as this sounds, sales professionals often forget to ask the client on the first call/IQM if they are planning to purchase a solution. This is not on purpose – usually the conversation has buying indicators like ‘we are looking for a new CRM’ or ‘we don’t like out old technology’ – so you dig into the pain and establish all the other key factors like decision-maker and needs – but don’t ask for budget and timeline.
  • A trial close simply asks:
    • Are you looking to purchase technology
    • If we can validate that our solution meets all your required capabilities are you ready to move forward today
      • This works well in more transactional sales, but can be edited for a longer and more strategic sales cycle:
      • ex:If we meet your required capabilities would you be able to take this to the purchasing team…
  • Using a trial close towards the beginning of the initial qualifying meeting/discovery ensures you and the client are on the same page.
    • Ex: Yes, I need something right away and am seriously looking to purchase
    • Ex: Not today, but I do expect to make a decision in the next few weeks after speaking with my team and looking at other vendors
    • Ex: No, I don’t have the budget now, but we are looking a potential software for next year
    • You get the idea – asking a Trial Close helps you gauge how to best work your client and anticipate timeline and objections

The Trial Close should be part of the initial discovery and is easy to blend into qualifying questions.

Information from the Trial Close can be incorporated into a Discovery Agreement (ex: client agrees that they will purchase after solution is evaluated if it meets the required capabilities. You can affirm this with the DA)

Service Close:

You have presented your solution, built value and discussed how you can solve their business objectives…you are ready to wrap up the deal and close it down…

But…before you rush into the final close (asking for the business and offering to send the PO), I recommend the ‘service close.’

A service close is a final check in to make sure all outstanding objections and questions have been addressed. The service close establishes trust by ensuring you are listening to client hesitation and confidence before going into the final closing strategy.

A service close validates that there are no issues preventing the customer from moving forward with the sale, based on the functionality alone.

“Based on the functionality alone – do you see any reason why you would not want to move forward with our solution?”

The service close is helpful because it enables the client a space to discuss concerns openly before you lean into the final closing stage. You can be a consultant here tackling each of their concerns step by step.

  • It also holds them accountable if they agree that there are no functionality concerns – so if they object to ‘features’ or lack of value in the final closing stages you can hold them accountable with the information gathered in the service close

Many clients (ourselves included when purchasing) often hide behind budget as our objection. While price is usually a factor, often it is not the root reason for ‘no’ – unless we’re talking about your buying a 36 million dollar Chateau on your own island – typically the budget objection is not the real objection.

By using a service close to eliminate any potential objections to functionality – you are more equipped to handle the budget objections and also ensure you can address any fears of moving forward based on functionality.

Final Tip:

ABC – Always be Closing is a popular expression – and I agree with it in the context of always working towards the close as a consultant and partner in solution selling. Don’t use ABC to constantly pressure and force closes on a client who has genuine concerns. If the client isn’t ready to purchase ABC becomes always be curious and graciously dig into the reason(s) why.

The Trial Close gages the seriousness of the buyer and budget

The Service Close validates functionality outside of budget

Both help you and the client reach the end goal of closing the loop on the business problem with a resolution (your product/solution)

Focus on HOW: Counselor Mindset

My manager reminded our team of an important truth in our weekly huddle: ‘We are not trying to sell as much as help enable our client to purchase software.’

While we do work in ‘sales’ – the concept of sales is really the end result of our efforts. Contrary to popular belief, Sales Professionals shouldn’t be focused as much on selling – as they should on HOW they can help solve client problems.

The dictionary defines ‘sales’ as: the exchange of a commodity for money; the action of selling something.

Yes we do sell a product when we close a deal, but sales professionals who only focus on selling aren’t building value. Their only focus is closing the deal quickly, without truly focusing on the client need(s). Sure they can throw around features and pitch to sentiment – but their only focus is getting cash exchanged on the transaction – whether it benefits the client or not.

Too many technology sales professionals lean into the mall kiosk tactics – feature pitching, forceful selling, fear selling…While this may lead to some quick transactions it always backfires. Why? Clients may purchase when they feel pressured, but given time they will usually come back to complain/ask for a refund. Churn is through the roof, but you the sale wasn’t based on value – it was driven by pressure and focus on the quick sell.

I want to clarify that having a more transaction sales cycle isn’t necessarily bad. Some products including software are meant to be presented and sold quickly based on client need and budget.

I also will say that many bad actors (sales persons without tactic and client focus) actually don’t do it on purpose. Mostly it comes from lack of training. Of course you have your ‘Wolves’ but 90% of bad sales people I’ve worked with just didn’t know a better way. They were either trained inappropriately or instinctively pushed into ‘pressure’ sales because they didn’t understand value. They compensate by arguing about price and selling the kitchen sink – even if you are selling dishwashers.

As sales professionals – it is important to reflect on your sales style and not be afraid to grow into a counselor sales professional.

I also encourage managers to focus on trainings empowering your team to work as a customer partner in the sales journey – focusing on HOW you can improve the client’s ROI and HOW your solution brings meaningful impact to the organization. The more you learn to partner with the client and speak to value based on their unique needs – the more your solution will ‘sell’ itself.

HOW do we go from the stereotypical sleazy sales person to a Consultant and Counselor Sales Person?

It starts with the client experience and how you can address their business objectives. Make it less about your product and more about them. This doesn’t mean you don’t discuss and focus on how your product works – rather instead of selling features – you are aligning how your solution can solve their problems.

You are inviting the client into this journey – counseling them as an industry expert – whose primary focus is not getting the sale – but rather helping them to solve a problem. In doing this you build value by telling the client HOW you can help and showing them the solution that can resolve their pain.

In this process you can invite the client to tell you how your solution can impact their business. You have an authentic dialogue. They trust you because you don’t have an endgame of manipulation to the contract. You instead are able to skillfully argue the value and show how you can help – so the client is able to make an informed decision.

It seems counter intuitive to say that as a salesperson you are not tied to the outcome as much as the process of consulting your client. We get paid on the sale – so should we strive for that at all costs? Yes and no. Yes your end goal is ‘selling your solution’ – but you should not reach that destination without putting the client’s best interest at the center of the negotiation.

Sometimes you may have to walk away if your solution is not a fit – that is a hard truth to swallow. But it also establishes brand trust – both your professional brand and your companies brand.

Several times I had to advise a client that for various reasons we weren’t a good fit for a project. They appreciated the candor. When they had another project come up that my company was an ideal fit for it lead to an even larger deal than originally anticipated because they trusted our company. Sometimes it is a long game and that’s okay.

I will be focusing on Counselor Sales in March.

Two of my favorite Counselor/Solution Selling books are SPIN Selling and Wilson’s Win-Win Selling. They are both worth investing in and keeping by your desk.

Both lay out strong foundations on HOW you can grow as a consultative sales professional.

I encourage you to FOCUS on HOW you can serve as a consultant on your next client call. I look forward to hearing about your HOW in the field.

Until next time…

Don’t be afraid to fail

We recently discussed ‘Being open to Constructive CHANGE’ and I wanted to follow-up a post about fear and failure.

Contemporary Christian/Pop singer Francesca Battiselli has a great song I play on repeat – especially when I’ve had a frustrating day. It is called a ‘The Break-Up Song’ and talks candidly about breaking up with fear. The chorus repeats:

“Fear, you don’t own me
There ain’t no room in this story
And I ain’t got time for you
Telling me what I’m not
Like you know me well guess what?
I know who I am
I know I’m strong
And I am free
Got my own identity
So fear, you will never be welcome here”

Why is this relevant for sales professionals and creative sellers?

We are constantly facing rejection. We have to run through the ‘no’ and focus on how we can keep going. I got pretty good at making peace with ‘no’ not being fatal as an SDR and Account Executive, but we also get stagnant and are afraid to change. We are afraid of failure.

Fear is ingrained in us to be a healthy emotion, but our broken world has left us addicted to fear. ‘Fear of missing quota,’ ‘fear of missing out,’ ‘fear of loss’ and the death grip of the ‘fear of failure.

Think of how many times we have not tried something new or taken on a challenge at work because we are afraid to fail.

I personally gave up creative writing for years because I had a bad experience with self-publishing – I failed and it felt terrible. I leaned into prayer and realized what I learned in that failure. I won’t make those mistakes again and I can share knowledge from failure to help others succeed.

In sales failure equals anxiety because missing your quota and goals typically equals loss – loss of identity, loss of financial security.

I know a lot of professionals (in numerous career paths) who don’t leave a job they dislike because they are afraid of failing. As humans we’d rather deal with the known crud than risk failing at something new. We are wired to distrust change and vulnerability.

In sales we need to be vulnerable – open to feedback and growth. I’m in a new role and fear has reared its ugly head – I’m worried about not being perfect on a call or demo. I’m worried about messing up – and as I reflected on my journey and career transformation – I realized it is okay if I fail.

Failure is not fatal. We have a God who loves us unconditionally and uses our failures to transform our hearts and minds. Failure in Business is a lesson – a lesson in how can we improve. What can we learn?

When a manager leads by fear or perfectionism we all fall short and will end up failing. We need room to make mistakes and learn so we can master and overcome.

That doesn’t mean you purposefully fail – but you don’t let fear prevent you from tackling hard questions in a discovery call – or demoing a new product with a client. Yes, be strategic and focused, but don’t be so rigid that you forgo quality risk because you’d rather not fail.

Failure is not fatal. Don’t be Risk Averse – be risk aware. Do your best to succeed and tackle problems with solutions preemptively – but also it’s okay to give yourself grace.

My fear mindset says ‘why bother writing this blog,’ ‘why record videos and post them on YouTube for sales coaching’ – you are just an Account Executive and you don’t have a professional studio or run a major corporation.

Fear keeps us all from doing things. It kept me from pursuing my love of writing for years. It led me to be so wired to the outcome I lost sight of the process – leading to anxiety and stress.

I know I make mistakes. I also have strengths. I am not purposefully diving into ventures and opportunities that lead to failure, but I’m not being paralyzed by fear.

I recently started a YouTube Channel to release sales coaching content and build community. This is scary. I know I am putting myself in the middle of no man’s land and every part of me says – don’t do it. But I’m persisting because I love to connect and enjoy sharing knowledge I’ve learned in the trenches. I want to learn from YOU (yes YOU) as well – because we have all learned in our success and failures.

Each week I encourage you to write down a few items that you have avoided at work (or at home) because of fear. I’m not talking about performing brain surgery – but not being afraid to handle hard objections or share your knowledge.

My goals:

  • Don’t allow fear of messing up prevent me from presenting the value I can when demoing a newer product.
  • Dedicate at least 30-45 minutes a week for my VLOG

And if you are interested in following the YouTube Channel click here

Focus on How: What is the Compelling Event

Photo by Taryn Elliott on

During a forecast call with my manager we were discussing a deal we expected to close in quarter. We dug into the opportunity and the path to the PO. I gave an overview of the case notes to my manager and discussed the technical notes.

Based on our conversation the opportunity seemed to be on the right track to close in quarter, but unfortunately at the last minute the client backed out.

In analyzing why we lost the deal we realized that we did not focus on the ‘compelling event.’ We understood the pain and business objectives, which is part of the compelling event – but the pain doesn’t always drive a deal forward. We build value with pain, but that value also needs to be anchored in an compelling event.

Pain is important – but in tying that pain to value you as the seller/consultant need to demonstrate the urgency of inaction.

The compelling event: a customer’s business pain that needs to be solved by a certain date otherwise negative business consequences will occur. The impact of the consequence helps to leverage the value of the product and close a deal. A compelling event ties the pain of inaction to drive transformation and buy-in to your product.

We can establish pain, but we also need to ask: ‘What is the compelling event.’

Ex: Client pain point is they need a better way to collaborate internally. They reach out to you (Inbound) and they say the CEO has charged the champion to investigate your solution. You establish pain that they are using email to collaborate now and don’t have versioning

You build value around a single system of record with versioning – this is real pain that you quantify, but…

What is the compelling event. What prompted the CEO to research this? What stake does the champion have here? What is their go-live date? What happens if this system is not implemented within a certain timeframe?

With Inbound leads there is usually a real compelling event – but it might not be critical or urgent. Ex: CEO is look at adding your solution next year and just wants to research options. They have a need but it is not compelling enough for transformation right now.

  • In this case if you understand the ‘compelling event’ you can speak to it and also build urgency to help create need and demand.

Dig in and reflect on the compelling event. I usually fill out a BNAPR worksheet to help me breakdown the compelling event, so I can Focus on HOW to tackle it.

I keep this in mind throughout discovery and the sales cycle now because I learned that something as simple as understanding ‘the compelling event’ can help ensure a win for you and your client.

Check out my new YouTube Channel

Be open to constructive change

We’ve all been thrust into the fire of change the past few years with a worldwide pandemic. That change wasn’t welcome, but we’ve learned to adapt as best we can and forge a way forward.

This past year (2021 to now) I’ve faced down a lot of change – and each time it was met with a wide spectrum of emotions – from that twisted knots – I don’t want to leave my house feeling to elation and excitement for new possibilities and growth.

Change is inevitable – but it doesn’t have to be feared as long as we focus on the right way to embrace change. In reflecting on the major life decisions I made in 2021 (purchasing a home, changing jobs, starting my coaching and art businesses) – I realize it is important to examine drivers for change – personally and professionally.

  • What is driving this change?
    • I am ready to growth professionally/personally
    • This change is unexpected or forced on external circumstances. I don’t want to change, but I am having to maneuver (being transferred to a new role you didn’t request or having to make dietary changes because you find out you have an allergy, dealing with a pandemic)
    • External and internal drivers: Example – you don’t want to leave the job you love, but they are not paying your commission fairly and as much loyalty you have for the company you need to leave. In negotiating this change – you also realize that you have an internal desire to learn something new and grow in a different career. So the external driver for change draws out an unknown pain point for change you didn’t fully recognize.

Change happens but you are not powerless when it comes to tackling change.

  • When change happens, breath in deep and reflect
    • make a list of how this change makes you feel and then troubleshoot the pros and cons of the change
    • This is a way to ‘vent’ your frustrations while also thinking about the potential ‘future state’ and ‘positive outcomes’
    • I always turn it over to God and prayer helps me calm my soul and mind. I look back over my life timeline and how God has used change to help me grow spiritually and professionally – or because He see the future I cannot (ex. the company you loved working for is going to have layoffs – so getting into a new job ends up being a blessing in disguise)
  • Recognize the challenges and opportunities
  • Embrace change but don’t pre-emptively force
    • What do I mean by this? Many workers have reconsidered their core focus after COVID-19. Before the motto in sales was ‘hustle till you die’ and this almost revered martyr state of if you work late and take time away from yourself to win the deal you are a hero.
      • While every job demands sacrifices – this mentality left many sales professionals so burnt out and the pandemic shifted what true focus should be – giving your all to your job, but not dying for it. Family, faith, life goals matter too and work life balance is now a huge focus for companies to retain top talent.
    • Change doesn’t need to happen just because you are frustrated in the moment. It is easy to say ‘I can’t stand my position because of xyz’ but you need to also put the pain in perspective. Managers change – so while a bad manager (abusive) would be a reason to leave – is there another option within this scenario
      • Listen to understand the pain points behind the change and the impact of the change. Lean into trusted mentors/friends who are not emotionally attached to the change and the issue at hand.
        • Ex: You’ve been in a job seven months and you thought it would be fantastic but it is a slow ramp and you are frustrated by the results.
          • It is easy to say – I need to quit and find something else, and that may be true, but you need to consider the long game from a non emotional point of view. Things change and emotions are fleeting – so look at the long term opportunities and work to problem solve how you can succeed before rushing to another opportunity that may have similar or worse problems than your current role.
      • Don’t be afraid to listen to advice for change, be open to their perspective but also trust your instincts and intuition. It is important to know and understand your value (including your weaknesses) so you can analyze the advice and see if it is really aligned with your professional and personal goals:
        • Example: you should change careers because of xyz
          • You should completely change your sales style because you are ‘dated’
            • In this example you are a top performer and have great rapport with clients. Small changes can be helpful, but stay true to your authentic self
  • Listen to good advice
    • Senior sales professionals can be stubborn because we’ve been successful and understand how to sell. We have a system and changing anything in this well oiled sales machine we’ve created seems like a threat. It is called the status quo. Ironic how we constantly tell our clients that status quo needs to be broken, but we can be chained to it.
      • Having a system/methodology that works is great, but when a fellow sales professional or manager challenges you to change things up or try a new tactic – don’t be afraid to listen. Sales professionals all have our own unique styles and can learn from one another. The best sales professionals are copycats and sponges – willing to listen and understand and try out new sales techniques. This doesn’t mean you compromise your entire style (as I mentioned earlier) but if your colleague is having success with prospecting – listen and learn. They can learn from your success as well.

Opportunity for change in Business:

  • We’ve focused on our personal and professional development – but all of these points are transferable to your clients as well. Put yourselves in their shoes and think about how changes affects them. Think about the unrealized pain they have and how to draw it out.
  • Be respectful of their fear of change while holding them accountable to the opportunity for change
  • Speak to your personal encounters with change: ‘I understand I was hesitant to invest in a new website for my side business because of the start-up costs and uncertainty around the ROI, but I started reflecting on the pains I have currently and cart abandonment because of poor sales system and realized the impact of the change far outweighed my concerns’

Don’t be Risk-Averse – but be Risk-Aware

Risk is not a bad thing – we take risks every day – even driving to the grocery store, but the key is to be aware of the implications of that risk and reflect and analyze the impact in a rational way.

Risk of leaving a job: The job you’ve been in five years has had a lot of structural changes and you are not getting paid as much even though your are doing more work – because the quotas are unattainable. You are afraid of leaving because of the fear of the unknown. You might be ‘losing’ money at this job but it is a known entity and what if you change positions and it doesn’t work out. You have a mortgage, kids, bills to pay…

Those are legitimate risks and being aware of the risks you can analyze the impact of the change, but at the same time, you cannot be averse to changing simply because of the fear of the unknown.

I’ve seen many talented sales professionals turn down great offers at established companies – not because of loyalty to their current job (that has a lot of internal bottlenecks and frustrations) – they aren’t happy working at their company, but they are afraid of change – they are risk averse.

Taking risks is a good thing as long as you have an awareness and action plan behind the change. We are emotional creatures – so it is okay to loop in trusted friends outside of these situations to help.

Take on change with awareness and strength

Creative Selling Series

“Drawling is putting a line around an idea.” Henri Matisse

While interviewing for a sales job, the hiring manager asked me to describe myself as a salesperson. My answer: “I am a creative salesperson.’ While it is easy to silo sales and creativity into two categories – the best sales professionals are creative. They are not afraid to take chances and thrive on ideation and collaboration. Sales is a creative profession. Creativity is unique for everyone – and in one sales person it might be creating a new pitch – or figuring out a new technical demo view for a client.

As sales professionals it is okay to embrace creativity! Whether you are selling tax software or starting a side business – sales is a creative business.

I thrive on creativity. I love to create. I spend my free time painting, playing music, and writing stories. It seems like these traits wouldn’t improve my sales career – but creativity has taught me to be flexible and to be open to new ideas.

Creativity is also about strategy. Creativity still requires a certain discipline. If you want to play piano – you have to practice. If you want to compose a decent song you cannot just pound on the keyboard – you need to know chords or scales. A lucky few can play by ear, but the rhythm is still grounded in method. Beats per minute.

Sales allows us to think outside the box and to dream of a better future state for our client.

Sales invites us to be creative sellers with our passions.

Have you ever wanted to start a side business – but didn’t think it was worth your time? Creative selling helps you to act on ideation – so you can back up your creative ideas with business solutions.

Creative Selling (my definition): using our unique talents and ideas to help empower our clients and solve business problems. Creative Selling also helps your ideas become actionable goals so you can sell your passions in your career (corporate job and/or side hustle)

My biggest talent is my creativity – it is my superpower because it helps me stay engaged in every situation and always be problem solving. You have creative attributes too and it is okay to bring those ideas use creative selling.

In the coming months I will be running a Creative Selling Series.

This will focus on two different segments of Creative Selling:

  • Solution Selling/Technical Sales: think traditional SaaS or B2B/B2C business models (aka ‘your typical day job’ in sales)
  • Creative Passion Selling – do you have a side business outside of your 9 to 5? Do you want to grow that business to sell your passion (ex: art, music, clothing, pottery, the list goes on)

I am leaning heavily into Creative Selling as I navigate my new job. I’m four months into the role and every day I’m faced with difficult challenges and using creative selling helps me to think outside the obstacles in front of me and figure out ways to overcome and growth in my career. It has helped me to look on how I can create an action plan for change with the client.

Outside of my ‘9 to 5 role’ – I’m also pursuing my own side business ‘Adele Lassiter Creative – Fresh Art and Fiction’

Selling my acrylic landscapes online demands a business plan while leaning into my creative mindset. I will share lessons from my journey as an online Artist and novelist (trying to land a literary agent).

How do you sell creatively? What are strengths that are not traditionally creative (art, music) – but are ‘creative selling tools’ in your arsenal (communicator, social seller?)

Love to hear your thoughts!

If you want to check out my art business, check out my sister site Adele Lassiter Creative and my Etsy page

Also add me on Instagram and LinkedIn

Focus on How: Preparation is Key

I love playing music and when I get in the groove – I start ‘riffing’ – going ‘off the cuff’ based on the feel of the piece – but for every riff or ‘going with the flow moment’ – it is back by hours of preparation. In the case of music – I spend twenty minutes to an hour practicing scales and going over pieces of music until it is just right.

With sale, especially senior sales reps, it is easy to get caught in the trap of ‘riffing’ on a call and demo. While you need flexibility in your structure (agility to read the room so to speak), you will lost out on sales if you are unprepared. Overpreparation is essential when you are working larger deals.

I’ll admit I allow this to fall through the cracks at times. I think I’m prepared for the call – I have great discovery or have looked over the notes from my initial call, but I continue to learn that taking even ten minutes to plan out your next meeting and prep for it is essential.

  1. We forgot details: I have a good memory, but if a week has passed since I last met with the client taking 10 minutes to deep dive into my notes – or even relistening to the call while you are doing admin tasks will provide the 20/20 hindsight to pick up details and key points you may have missed in the first call.
    • Basketball players warm up before tip off; Musicians have a sound check to tune their instruments; Sales professionals need to ‘level up’ our preparation.

2. Preparation prevents wasted opportunity: Your time and your client’s time is extremely valuable. You want to make sure that each meeting and conversation is impactful. Why recapping the last call is important – you need to remember clients want to feel like they are being heard and not repeating their need over and over again needlessly.

With solution selling this can be difficult, but when you bring in different layers of team sellers (engineers, services, compliance, etc..) it can feel as though the sales cycle is a stationary bike – spinning wheels with no traction.

Preparation shows active listening and engagement. It demonstrates that you are focused on the customer needs, timeline and also able to drive the sales cycle.

How to Prepare:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for HELP: An extra set of eyes on a deal from a trusted teammate or manager can help you ensure your bases are covered before your next call.
    • My manager holds his team accountable to being ‘overprepared’ because he wants to ensure we are staying on task with client expectations. I always prepare for calls, but his FOCUS on preparation has driven me to improve my processes.
  • Look at their website, search for company news – this is extremely helpful prior to an initial discovery call, but also on follow-ups. If your client has been in the news (acquisitions, awards, etc…) this is a good engagement conversation to build value around your relationship as a business partner and solution expert.
  • Research their industry -you are working as an expert and that means you need to understand challenges facing their industry as a whole. Even if it is a 360 understanding, speaking to pain (ex: ransomware in financial firms) builds trust and credibility. It shows you care about the client and want to solve business problems – not just sell a solution
  • Listen to your call recordings. If you record sales calls, I recommend listening to them prior to your next meeting. I listen while I’m doing admin work (tasks that don’t require extreme focus). I even listen to calls while cleaning my house. This has helped me be able to fully actively listen to what was being said and take note of any questions that I should ask on the next call based of the prior discussion.
  • Review your notes: This seems simple, but how often have you gotten on a ‘Next Steps’ call but didn’t review the Salesforce opportunity notes. Your rely on memory but are doing in cold. Even a one minute review of your notes can help jog your memory and improve the follow-up conversation
  • Build out a deck: This depends on product and line size, but having a customer facing deck recapping ‘What You Heard’ on the last call and ‘Next Steps’ not only helps you prepare mentally, but shows your client that you spent time thinking about their business and strategizing for them. A deck also helps with intent to ensure you are on the same page.

Set an Agenda:

While you may tweak the agenda in call based on client need and questions – when you have an agenda in place before a call and explain that agenda to the client at the start of your meeting it validates that you value their time and want to earn their business. It keeps you on task during the meeting -respecting their time with actionable information and steps.

I always ask clients if they want to add anything else to the agenda -so we ensure that we cover any important focus items I may have missed.

Hope these tips help! I’d love to hear your feedback on ways you prepare for a client call?

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