5 Mins Read

How (and Why) to Apply Design Thinking to Your Sales Process

Brandon Fluharty |

Brandon Fluharty |

Complex selling doesn’t have to be so complex

If you’ve been following along here with Be Focused. Live Great., you know I like to share a lot on how to operate consistently at an elite level, similar to how a world-class athlete approaches their life. This is so we can unleash our full potential as professional sellers.

But I often get asked how I pull down 7 and 8 figure transformation deals with really large companies.

Is it stressful?

Is it intense?

Is it hard?

Is it repeatable?

The answer is Yes. To all of those questions.

However, it doesn’t have to be as complex as most people think…

In today’s newsletter, I want to deconstruct how I approach each strategic deal using design principles.

Let’s go!


Start thinking like a designer

If you’ve read 7 Steps to 7 Figures, you know I like to operate using frameworks like DFC, where I approach anything that has a beginning, middle, and end (such as a single workday or a sales engagement) with Discipline, Flexibility, and Curiosity.

At the start, I want to be disciplined like a world-class athlete who preps themself for intense training or competition. This is where I want to be prepared with research and come to the table knowing who I’m going to talk to and what they care about.

In the middle, I need to be more flexible like a creative artist. Why? I can’t control what happens in the middle of the day or during the middle of an important meeting, so I need to be attuned to the present moment and be able to adjust on the fly when necessary.

And at the end, I need to maintain curiosity, like a scientist would, in order to look back at the event using data, not emotion, to understand what went well and what needs to be improved. I then insert those learnings into my system going forward.

Simple, right?

It really is, but the key is having structure and a system you trust to come back to each and every day to maintain that consistency. That’s why I developed the Make More Hustle Less Club – to help elite sellers develop their own personal operating system and use the power of community to build and improve it with one key component at a time.

Now, when it comes to the art and science of selling transformation deals (versus selling a transaction), I follow a similar 3-step process.

This way of selling was naturally honed over 15+ years of experience learning the hard way across SMB, mid-market, enterprise, and eventually strategic sales.

But it wasn’t until I read the book Naked Sales: How Design Thinking Reveals Customer Motives and Drives Revenue that I actually could put a process to my style.


Define your elite sales style

The first important thing to recognize with landing large transformation deals is to understand you are not selling anything.


That may sound counterintuitive in a sales role, but the truth is your prospects and clients know a whole lot already. They have done their research. And the largest companies have already set down the path of doing due diligence and carry a pretty good idea of who the top players are across various supplier industries.

We don’t have a selling problem, we have a buying challenge.

That means in today’s digital transformation world, we have to be more intelligent with designing a better experience conducive to buying something BIG.

Fortune 100 companies have a plethora of information from their own internal analysts, external analyst research (think Forrester, G2, and Gartner), peers (executives switching companies or high-end peer exchanges), quality industry events, and more.

They are coming to the table armed with distinct ideas and a hypothesis for how things should work, and even have experience with your solution or other providers.

So our job as elite professional sellers is to design an amazing buying experience.

Here’s how to do it effectively:


Execute your strategy with DIA + CEA


1. Conduct good DISCOVERY using the mindset of CURIOSITY

You may have read this in Step 4: Create a standard no one else delivers in 7 Steps to 7 Figures (and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?!) where I talk about the need to understand your prospect’s customer experience better than they do.

How can you expect to get a meeting with high level executives if you are not coming to the table after a thorough discovery and sharing compelling insights they may be missing.

This is where you can let your creativity shine and go have fun being their customer. Ride on their planes, sign up for their loyalty program, buy a pair of shoes from their company, you name it. If it’s a B2B company, download their software and try the free 14 day trial, interview their salespeople, talk with their customer service. Again, you’re only limited here by your own creativity (and quality time management).


2. Share compelling INSIGHTS with the mindset of EMPATHY

In my 7 Steps to 7 Figures system, I go into detail on how I used my experience as a top flying customer on a major global airline and crafted an open letter to executives to share my insights in order to further the dialogue with their team.

These insights were not just about my company or product, but instead I came from the perspective of being on their planes almost every week, getting friendly with gate personnel, spending a lot of time in their club lounges, and more.

This built rich credibility and made them really lean in to want to learn more.


3. ACCELERATE the deal with the mindset of AGILITY

Once we were engaged, the key was to share and validate my insights and present a broad vision of how life as a loyal, frequent flier could be improved at every engagement point (website, app, at the gate, on the plane, in the lounges, etc.) using my company’s technology and services.

This was not a pitch, but rather a series of collaboration and co-design sessions where they were able to validate my ideas as well as share their own insights that I could never have possibly known without being inside their four walls.

Nine months later, and we closed a multi-year and multi-million dollar transformation deal together.



When you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:

1. Get the exact system I’ve used to go from earning $200K to over $1M a year in SaaS sales without burning out here. (1,800+ students)

2. Join a community of Purpose-Curious™ sellers in the Make More Hustle Less Club where we develop a personal operating system together here. (300+ members)

3. Book a 1:1 coaching session to up-level your performance here. (Limited spots available)



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