The Puppy Dog Close

Since I am fond of talking about why everyone ignores your email sales pitch, I’m occasionally on the receiving end of examples of awful cold pitches that continue to inhibit sales performance. This example hit my inbox last week:

If this puppy doesn’t convince you to connect with me – I am at my wits’ end.

The Puppy Dog Close


The puppy dog is cute. In 2016, cute doesn’t close sales. Value does. It’s important to understand how the customer is changing and how today’s customer or customer decision team defines value.

How Today’s Sales Dynamic Has Changed

The average B2B deal now requires an average of 5.4 people to formally sign off on each purchase. What is the impact?

The people on buying teams have increasingly diverse priorities, and to win them over, suppliers must bridge those differences. The upshot is longer cycle times, smaller deals, lower margins, and, in the ever more common worst case, customer deadlock that scuttles the deal. — Harvard Business Review

That is a new landscape and navigating it with success is proving to be a tremendous challenge for sales teams. That is why a Forrester study projects that of the 4.5 million B2B sales jobs in existence today, “one million jobs will be net displaced by 2020.”

The first 500,000 out the door will be the salespeople who cannot differentiate themselves as a critical part of the value proposition. On the other hand, the massive shift in customer expectations around the buying decision is providing an unprecedented opportunity for world-class producers to win big.

The best salespeople are finding ways to deliver compelling insight, deep customization and help customers think differently about the future. They’re experts about their products, competition, customers, and are well-positioned to bring customer decision teams together and guide them to arrive at a consensus decision. They win on value and don’t have to compete on price.

While I’ve talked previously about the importance of story, strategy and execution, there isn’t a silver bullet to developing the new skills required to compete and win today. It’s work.

How to Get to Work

I believe part of the work required to help sales teams evolve is sales auditing. In this presentation to 1,000 B2B producers, I unpack the auditing tactics that have proven most effective to me:

There is a shift happening around the way customers make decisions. It begs the question:

Who do I need to become to drive sales growth into the future?

It’s a question I consider regularly and it can be applied to other areas in business and life. I also know a consistent auditing practice will provide insight to help you make forward progress!