The one sentence summary

To sell effectively, you need emotion, your best points first and last, plenty of contrast, strong visuals, simplicity, proof, and to make it personal.


  • There are lots of ways to increase the chances of someone buying what you have to sell. Your pitch must have a Point of View, including:

Grabber: grab attention immediately with something unexpected

Pain: show the prospect something that threatens the business

Impact: identify the closeness and urgency of the problem

Contrast: present a new way to look at the problem

Proof: demonstrate how your proposal will work

  • Grabbers that work well are: What if you…? questions, number guessing games, customer stories (with contrast) and 3D props.
  • Provocation-based selling delivers bad news and then fixes it.
  • You can identify your Value Wedge by drawing a Venn diagram of you, the prospect and the competition. The bit in the middle is value parity – it doesn’t get you anywhere.
  • The bit between you and the prospect is a wedge that needs 3 components:
  1. It must be important to the prospect
  2. It must be defensible against your competitor
  3. It must be unique to you.
  • The Message Pyramid has three parts, working up from the base:
  1. What the product or service Is: features and functions
  2. What it Does: message and uniqueness
  3. What it Means: the value it creates or provides
  • The authors call these points Power positions.


  • Using diagrams in this way creates Big Pictures. It’s the best way to simplify a complex message and make abstract ideas concrete.
  • Deals aren’t just a case of winning and losing. On average you might win around 35% of prospects, competitors may get 25%, but on 40% there’s no decision at all.
  • Most salespeople are taught We phrasing. We could do this…etc. You phrasing works better because it transfers ownership to the listener.
  • Research shows that people remember 70% of the words at the beginning of a presentation, 20% in the middle, and 100% at the end. Pace your pitch accordingly. You need some emotion, with your best points first and last, contrast, strong visuals, simplicity, proof, and to make it personal.


  • This is a classic American sales book. UK readers can take it with a pinch of salt.
  • The title doesn’t really need the ‘complex’ bit. The techniques could apply to any sale.