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How Not to Sell on Price: The Iannarino Principle

I have written here about salespeople in name only, those who want to sell without selling, those who don’t want to sound like a salesperson, those who wish to be trusted advisors (even when that means that they cannot ask for commitments), and those who believe that they are consultative sellers when they are in fact simply vendors. In fact, all of these indicate the vendor mindset.

One of the primary problems with this mindset is that by approaching sales in this timid and ineffective way, you end up selling price (and that is rarely your company’s strategy). When you sell price, you rarely create enough value to enable you to capture any for your company or yourself.

So here it is. A principle that I believe in so strongly that I am putting my name on it.

The Iannarino Principle

Your job as a professional salesperson is to create so much value for your dream client that you can confidently capture part of that value for your company and for yourself.

What You Believe

To approach sales with this as your operating principle, you have to believe. You have to believe that you have the ability to create more value for your dream client than your competitors can or will.

You have to believe that your company is the right choice, and you have to mercilessly disqualify the prospects that aren’t right for you and your company. Serving these nightmare clients costs your company time, resources, and reputation, but most of all it destroys your ability to believe.

Belief is one of the foundations of confidence.

How You Act

You will only believe that you can create the kind of value for your dream client that allows you to confidently capture part of the value created if you act in accordance with this principle.

You have to act in accordance with the principle that it is your job to create a better outcome for your dream clients. This means you have to work on developing yourself, all of the underlying attributes that create success, and all of the underlying attributes that enable you to sell well. You build your competencies so that you can become more valuable to your dream clients, as well as your company.

When you act in a way that creates more value for your dream clients than they can without you or with one of your competitors, you create a bigger pie. Creating a bigger pie gives you the ability to carve out a bigger piece for your company and yourself.

Why You End Up at Price

The SINO mindset (salespeople in name only), the mindset of those that have never really embraced selling in the first place, is never going to allow one to feel comfortable claiming their share of the value that they create. They don’t even like to think of themselves as salespeople.

They never feel strongly enough about sales or selling to ever be extraordinary value creators. They are too afraid to ask for commitments, let alone ask for a price that is higher than their competitors—even when they create enough of an outcome that it makes their cost far lower than their competitors.

Sometimes salespeople call themselves trusted advisors or consultative sellers because by doing so they eliminate the need to behave in accordance with the principle, the part that says: “ . . . confidently capture part of that value for your company and for yourself.”

These self-appointed titles let this group off the hook for asking for commitments and behaving like a salesperson (and before you start to think I am suggesting this means behaving badly and giving the hard sell, revisit this post . . . most of the group I am describing is clueless as to the hard sell).

Without acting in accordance with this principle, you are willingly giving up your portion of the value you create in the way of a lower price. Because you don’t believe that you have created greater value, you don’t believe you deserve a greater price. Because you don’t believe that your client can’t live without your solution, you willingly hand over your share of the value you created. You behave like a commodity, and you are treated like one.

Because you don’t act as if it is your job to compete aggressively and to create more value than your competitors, you fail to create a bigger pie. You willing take the customary share of the customary pie. Or something less.


The role of the professional salesperson is to create so much value for their dream client that they can confidently capture part of that value for their company for themselves.


  1. Do you believe that it is your role as a salesperson to create more value for your dream clients than you competitors?
  2. If you can create more value than your competitors, shouldn’t that greater value result in a greater price?
  3. If your dream client doesn’t believe you have created enough value to command a greater price, where did you fail in your sales process?
  4. When you greater value, when you have massively increased the size of the pie, do you still expect only the customary slice of the smaller pie that exists without you?
  5. What do you have to do to act in accordance with this principle? Who do you have to be?

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Filed under: Sales 3.0

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