To Get Sales Back on Track, Avoid These Three Costly Mistakes

The pandemic changed the way we do business, perhaps forever. Selling while still in our pajamas is now commonplace. And looking good on Zoom is now far more important than wearing polished shoes. Finding the right customers and candidates has become more of a challenge, and yesterday’s approaches no longer work. Sales rep numbers can easily get off track. To get sales back on track, avoid these three costly mistakes.

1. No Trust

Experienced sellers know that customers buy on trust, and gaining trust requires building a relationship.

We must know who we’re engaging with on a video call. I’ve spent decades coaching sales teams, from two reps to tens of thousands, at firms like Cisco, HP, Oracle, SAP, and Visa. The best ones adjust their approach and style to the personality of the prospect.

The worst mistake we can make is losing trust or never gaining it in the first place by treating all prospects the same. One size or one approach does not fit all.

For example, on one call, the prospect had a strong, confident, and in-control personality. This type of personality prefers to be challenged and likes bullet points rather than verbose details.

The rep didn’t know this and spent 30 minutes in the weeds and concluded with “This solution is automated and can take complete control of your entire system.” He failed to realize he was talking to a proverbial “control freak.” He hadn’t taken the time to build relational trust by understanding who he was talking to.

Needless to say, we lost the sale.

2. No Balance

A few thousand years ago, Aristotle invented his famous Persuasion Model. This detailed approach focused mostly on public speakers.

But the principles are relevant to selling and marketing in our modern world. We must persuade customers by delivering balanced information that appeals to our logical, emotional, and instinctual motivators.

The late Harvard University neuroscientist Dr. Paul D. McLean rediscovered this secret more than a decade ago. His Triune Brain theory suggests that our decision-making is mostly subconscious and related to three brain areas that are, you guessed it, more logical, emotional, and instinctual. Our logical brain prefers facts, figures, and charts; however, our emotional and instinctual brains prefer videos and pictures.

This neuroscience discovery also relates to personality types, as certain parts of our brains are more dominant than others. In our earlier example, our control freak is more instinctual, which is why he prefers bullet points and needs to be in command. Unfortunately, most sales playbooks or messaging guides don’t account for this. So reps mistakenly either only deliver logical value propositions or don’t personalize their messaging for each prospect.

What they should do is speak to the prospect’s logical, emotional, and instinctual brain areas in a way that resonates with them.

3. No Storytelling

Studies show that proper storytelling can increase customer retention and motivation by 14 times. Most of us probably think we can tell a good story, but can we? As a budding writer, I attended a conference years ago, confident that I could tell a great story. After two weeks, I was voted most improved. Ouch.

Later, I spent years learning from several New York Times best-selling authors and eventually adapted that knowledge to the world of sales and marketing. This led to a framework called 4STORY™, which I cover in my latest book, Start with Who™. By leveraging the famous 3-act play structure, Aristotle’s Persuasion Model, and neuroscience, I’ve helped dozens of sales teams build customer trust and traction quickly and effectively.

A visual storytelling approach can ensure you’re appealing to multiple brain areas rather than only one or two. For recruiting, studies show that 90% of success relates back to soft skills, which are directly influenced by our brain type. For example, did you know that high-trust employees drive 400% more performance?

Putting It All Together

Companies Running on EOS™ can get sales back on track by applying the above information to improve marketing, sales, and recruiting. For your 3 Uniques™, imagine the 3-act play. Start with a more visual and emotional message for Act I. Follow that with an instinctual message for Act II, and finally, a logical message in Act III.

To demonstrate that, imagine the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Your prospect is Dorothy, the hero of the story. In Act I, she is in her ordinary world, and you need to appeal to her emotional brain by asking her questions to understand her current situation. Then you can appeal to her instinctual brain by creating a tornado to thrust her into Act II and the world of Oz. From there, challenge her assumptions and make her aware of risks, such as flying monkeys. Then, and only then, will she be ready to click her heels and come home in Act III, where you can appeal to her logical brain with facts, figures, and closing statements.


Now that you’re a storytelling and neuroscience expert, how can you apply this knowledge to running your business? By running your company on EOS®, you already have a head start. With this new knowledge, use the simple yet powerful solutions of EOS to incorporate it into your sales, marketing, and recruiting processes. Soon you’ll improve your ability to convert prospects into gold and recruit the right high-trust people for the right seats.

And, of course, you can also read my books. 😉


William Craig Reed is the New York Times bestselling author of Start with Who, with a foreword by EOS Worldwide Visionaries Mark O’Donnell and Mike Paton. Reed is also the author of The 7 Secrets of Neuron Leadership. He is a former U.S. Navy diver with a neuroscience certification from Harvard University, a marketing MBA, and numerous sales and marketing certifications. He is also a board director for RemotelyMe, an authorized EOS Worldwide partner that runs on EOS. RemotelyMe leverages Reed’s concepts to offer the only talent assessments that use visual neuroscience to determine soft skills and trust factors, as well as a ChatGPT-powered LinkedIn profiling app for sales, marketing, and recruiting that determines communication preferences and automatically creates personalized emails, LinkedIn messages, and phone scripts for selling and recruiting.

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