The following post is a guest blog from our friend and business associate, Dr. Ronald Hollis, Founder, President & CEO of

The ability to sell is a critical element in the commerce of an economy, industry, and company. Nothing happens until sales are made and the product or service is ready to be provided to the customer. The success of sales is both an art and science. The required combination is the reason there are those who are great sales people and those who are lousy. One has both the humanistic qualities, of which some are innate, as well as the technical mastery, to help the prospect understand their options. Those who are willing to study their practice and master the combination of art and science can harness a powerful combination and become a great salesperson.

This blog discusses the hurdles that are required for every prospect to make a buying decision and for you to be the successful salesperson. By developing a complete sales strategy based on three secret hurdles, the overall success of the individuals and the team will be huge for themselves, and more importantly, for their customers. The opposite of developing a sales strategy is to “hope” things work out for the best and to waste significant resources, including precious little time you have remaining in your career. In future blogs, I will share strategies that can be implemented to easily jump these hurdles and ensure success.

What are these hurdles that will ensure my success? They are simply Capability, Trust, and Value (CTV). The CTV of sales are three distinct hurdles that must be traversed for a prospect to become a customer. As you will discover, each is a combination of the art and the science, which is why a powerful sales strategy for your offering must be developed to be successful. As it turns out, these same hurdles apply to you when you put on the buyer’s hat, so you can test them out to see how they feel. These hurdles are a natural part of the process for the master salesperson, either consciously or subconsciously. They know how to cross the hurdles and help the customer. It is important to realize that these hurdles are not sales objections, which are typically more of a result of the personality of the buyer. These hurdles are like a common environment for everyone. In some cases, you apply the strategies of sales to cross these hurdles.

Every buying decision must successfully pass three assessments to make a buying decision – Capability, Trust, and Value.

The first hurdle is Capability, or “can you do what you say you can do?” Every buyer wants to be right when making a buying decision. No one, including you, wants to have regrets about the decision because they did not get what they thought they were getting. This assessment of your real capability is critical for their ability to transition from maybe to yes. If you have been in sales long enough, you have lost the big deal because the customer said they were concerned that their project may be too big, complex, small, or something that you may not be able to do for them. This all relates to their assessment of your capability. Educating the prospect of your capability is a slippery slope of sales. You want to build confidence in your customer that you can do the job, but you don’t want overdo to it and misrepresent what you can really do. Overpromising and under delivering is the fast track to failure. Also, the savvy buyer will begin to sense your own lack of confidence as you begin to push the boundaries of capability, so you must know the boundaries and sell within your limits.

The second hurdle is Trust or “will you really take care of me?” For a prospect to be able to buy anything from you, they must trust you. Of course, there are various levels of trust, but you must establish adequate trust for the type of sale you are providing. If the product is a novelty, then trust can be low but is still required. If the product is lifesaving or life threatening, the trust must be very high. Know how much trust is required for your product and realize that you must establish trust to get the order. It is a common misperception for the salesperson to think they are good guys and that everyone just trusts them, while the truth is that only a mom’s trust can be taken for granted.

The third hurdle is Value, or “am I getting a good deal?” No buyer wants to be a sucker when making a buying decision. While not everyone is looking for a bargain, they do want to pay what they feel is reasonable for their purchase. Helping the customer understand that you are providing them value (whether in lower cost, increased service, or better quality) is critical to help them get over this hurdle. Value is also slippery slope, particularly with long-term or repeat customers, where you may think you can raise their price and it will be okay. However, when they get the call from another great salesperson who attacks your weakness for providing low value, this erodes the trust and then game is over. Always be aware of the real value you are providing your customer and commit to always providing Value.

Capability, Trust, and Value provide the foundation of successful selling to get the great wins in your company and career. By implementing appropriate strategies in your prospecting, scripts, offerings, etc, then you are automatically overcoming the hurdles on the way to becoming a great salesperson. When in doubt, just keep an internal check for yourself. A great benefit of being in sales is that we are also customers at some time. Validate the CTV for yourself when you are making a buying decision. The next time you buy a new computer the salesperson says will give you great performance, think about what was required for you to overcome the Capability hurdle. How did you know you could Trust the company from which you bought your insurance? When you buy a new car, what did you need to know you were getting a good Value? These self-assessments will engrain the hurdles and make you aware of them when you are on the other side of the table trying to close the deal. These hurdles are real and embedded in every buying decision.

If you would like to know more, check out my blog at Or for other great topics on product development, then check out the ( encyclopedia for more information or get a hot copy of Better Be Running! Tools to Drive Design Success at

Dr. Ronald L. HollisFounder, President & CEO, Inc
October 30, 2010

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