8 Lessons Learned

A final wrap-up of the main points I have covered in this UX of Sales series coalesced into 8 big ideas. Read this even if you haven’t read the rest, then go back and read all the previous parts.

1. Have an objective.

In contextual inquiry research you have an objective, right? This is the same in the sales process. You want to have a realistic measurable objective clearly articulated before each sales call.

It might be as simple as getting introduced to a key person or as complex as getting them to consider only your proposal. 

The object needs to move the sales process forward.

We write our objective at the top of the page where we take notes. This helps guide the way we ask our questions or the order in which we move to meet that goal.

2. Get as high as you can in the org chart as early as possible.

You want to be talking to the highest person in the organization that you can. They may refer you down but it’s easier to go down than up.

When you ask, “who all will this project affect“ they will most likely name their boss or bosses boss. This is your entree to get their name and ask to speak to them.

3. Balance of power is important.

Just as in a healthy marriage or dating relationship or friendship you need to have a healthy balance of power.

If one side has more power then both sides will feel uncomfortable. 

Long term you want to create a healthy relationship.

You have something they need and they have something you need.

Make sure you are working together as partners not adversaries.

4. You HAVE to get to the financial buyer.

They are the elusive Unicorn.

This is the hardest person of all to get time with. Your client or sponsor might block you from access to them. If they do block you, then you tell them what you need to know and give them the tools to get that information. You might say something like,

How do WE get access to them so that we can make YOU successful.”

Remember, sometimes the top need of your sponsor or client might be something personal like job security or a promised promotion. Your job is to help them with that.

5. Sometimes you miss an important buyer.

Maybe it’s someone that wasn’t considered important or no one told you or they are new on the job.

Once these people come to light it can make you vulnerable. 

As soon as you know about them, it’s important to get access to this person and get an understanding of their needs and work that into your synthesis.

If you walk into that final proposal presentation and there are new people in the room, you are vulnerable because you don’t know what their needs are. If this happens, take a moment, go around the room and have an introduction and ask each person what their top 3 needs are for this project. 

As you present the proposal, you can dovetail any new information into the main needs expressed in the proposal and ensure that you have heard them.

6. Have an action plan.

After every sales encounter, from the first to the last, you need to make a mutual agreement for what each of you will do next to move the process along.

Your time is valuable as is your clients.

You will decide and agree on: 

what they will do

what you will do

and agree upon a time for that

7. Make a date.

Do not leave your final sales presentation without having made a firm meeting date to get the final answer for your proposal.

This will allow you to do one of two things:

Save the job by being able to address any objections or wrong assumptions.

Set the stage for a continued relationship with the client for the next project they are going to have.

8. Sales is not a dirty word.

Our coach hates it when we call it Business Development.

Call it sales.

No one gets paid until we make a sale.

Sales is how we get work. Sales is how your client is going to get work done.

This is a universal truth.


Understanding and selling to your customers is just like understanding and creating for your users.

It involves understanding their deep needs and crafting a solution that meets their needs and business goals and those are not always identified through a list of product features.

As designers we have to have a strong connection with and respect for our users. They won’t use our products if they don’t believe that we understand them.

In consultative sales, it’s the same way. Sales is a collaboration with you and your client. It involves mutual respect and a strong relationship. It involves listening and understanding our buyers core needs.