How do you WANT your sales team, both your salespeople and sales managers, to think about your prospects, your customers, and the opportunities in their pipeline?  Does the way your Sales Manager thinks about these things help or hurt their success?


Change the way the sales team thinks about your stakeholders and their opportunities, and you have a fighting chance to transform the results. Walter Crosby


HELIX Sales Development partners with Membrain; it’s a game-changer, and our guy at Membrain is Nate Tutas.  Nate and I have regular conversations around the best sales books, mindset, and how we can help sales professionals elevate their game.  Our most recent conversation was no different.

Nate shared a concept called OODA Loop.  An acronym for Observe Orientate Decide Act. Originally developed for fighter pilots, I believe there is an application for Sales Managers.

sales strategy

comparison to military pilot


The objective with pilots in the military is to get inside your opponents’ loop or thinking faster than they can, so they cannot get into your loop.  The application inside of sales is more about slowing down to go faster.  Let me explain.


Sales are lost when salespeople do a crappy job of discovery by going too fast.


Good salespeople Observe their prospects/customers with an eye to disqualifying someone who is not a fit for the product or service.  The prospect is on a path to determine the best fit for their needs.  The sales professional must determine if this buyer is qualified to do business.  Do they have an issue we can solve?  Do they want our help?

Discovery is the stage(s) of a sales process that requires salespeople to ask enough questions to understand if they can actually add value to the prospect.  The salespeople must Orient to the prospect.  The fighter pilot has seconds to orient themselves to the target.  Salespeople have time, sales are lost when salespeople do a crappy of discovery by going too fast.

Salespeople must orient to the prospect by using a consultative approach or asking enough questions.  How do we help someone, if we don’t understand their situation and their needs?  We cannot.

Discovery is about asking enough questions!  Good questions.  Great questions.  Tough Questions.  Questions that cause the prospect to think about their problem differently.  In fact, when executed well the sales professional can cause the prospect to Orient around the salesperson.  Going slower and methodically creates the win.

That brings us to Decide. We do this by using a sales process.  The sales process is effectively a series of checklists that follow the appropriate flow of milestones necessary.  The decision to move forward is less of a decision, but obvious.

The salesperson decides to move forward with a demo, or a proposal.  The decision is not based on whether the prospect asks for a proposal, but that the requirements of the sales process have been checked off.  The decision to move forward is automatic, if and when, all of the milestones have been accomplished in the process. There needs to be a fit, not just a request for a proposal.

Act. In our scenario, the salesperson decides to deliver the proposal. Yes, review the proposal with the prospect, don’t just email over the information.  This action results in a higher likelihood of success.  The success comes because the salesperson understands the decision criteria, who is making the decision, budget and other financial considerations, why this is important and the purchase is necessary for the prospect (avoiding a nice to have), who the competition is, and the value of the sale for the rep’s company.  Only after all the data is in should we Act.


Let’s go back to the sales manager.

sales manager

sales manager talking to sales team

The sales manager should be coaching the salespeople through this process.  Helping avoid the prospect to take advantage.  Guiding the reps to Observe the facts and orient to them. To make sure the salespeople are following a well-designed process, and not allowing deals to get stuck because of assumptions and hope in their thinking.

Thinking.  How are your sales managers helping your salespeople to think differently about the sales approach or their conversations with prospects?  This is another blog post for another day.  However, these are questions you can ask your team right now to understand what they are doing or not doing.

We will be dropping a Podcast episode on how thinking differently, and getting the sales team to think differently in the next few weeks on Sales and Cigars.  You can get it where you get Podcasts or