Same Side Selling, or Sales as a Jigsaw Puzzle

[Note: I shared this mental model with my email subscribers on Jan 15, 2017. If you want to receive a new mental model every week, join the club.]

What it is:

For a long time, we’ve had this notion of great salesmen as master persuaders. Skilled negotiators who can seal the deal. Who use anchoring, pricing hacks, false urgency, etc. to close the sale. And if that doesn’t work, they use bull-headed tenacity to wear down the customer into a tired “YES”.

But as Same Side Selling (an excellent, short book) says, nothing could be further from the truth. 

Our mental model of selling is wrong. Sales is not an adversarial game, where you “close a sale” or “hit up your targets”.

Instead, look at sales as a jigsaw puzzle.

Sales is not:


How can I bamboozle you?

Sales is:

Jigsaw puzzle

Let’s solve this together.

[Tweet “Sales is not chess. Sales is a jigsaw puzzle #samesideselling”]

The moment you change the metaphor, your frame of reference changes. Completely.


Examples in business:

  • You are not on opposite sides of the table. This is not like chess or checkers. Like when you’re solving a jigsaw puzzle with your friends, you and your customer are on the same side!
  • Do you have the right piece for the puzzle? Are you solving the customer’s problem? Or are you selling the solution you have, with scant regard for whatever the customer’s problem may be? Focus on benefits, not features. Focus on the “job to be done”.
  • Sometimes, the pieces don’t fit together. Maybe the client needs something else. Can you help him find it, even if it’s from another vendor?

If your job / business / life involves selling (and trust me, it does), this subtle change in the game metaphor will change your approach forever.


Rules to follow:

  1. Start with what the customer wants. How you can help?
  2. When selling, focus on benefits, not on features. Remember – you’re not selling saddles. Your customer is buying a better way to ride.
  3. Always think from your customer’s point of view. You’re not selling to her. You’re working with her. Helping her solve a problem. You’re on the same team.
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Further Reading:


Linked to: Job to be done

Filed Under: Sales & Marketing