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TSE 1145: Flip the Script

Oren Klaff

Many sellers rely on old ideology to engage their customers without realizing that if they flip the script, they can set the rules for the sale instead of conforming to the buyer’s rules.

Oren Klaff is the author of Pitch Anything, a required reading throughout Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and Fortune 500 companies. Oren is the world’s leading expert on sales, raising capital, and negotiation and has written for Harvard Business Review, Advertising Age Entrepreneur, among others. He is also an investing partner in a $2 million private equity investment fund and loves motorcycles. Oren is about to release his follow-up book entitled, Flip the Script.

Raising money for companies  

There is very little flexibility in most meetings, in that what happens in the first few minutes determines the outcome of the whole thing. The pitch is very important because there are high stakes in every presentation. It’s expensive to travel to presentations, so you have to get everything right the first time. 

Making a pitch is like a surgery. There’s no room for error. 

A pitch is a pitch regardless of the value: $1,000, $5,000, $100,00, $10 million, or $15 million. An account is an account.

This is what Oren does. He invests in companies, buys companies, and he trains the salespeople in these companies to raise money. He knows this works because companies tell him that their sales averages have doubled, that they’re closing deals, and that they’re raising money effectively. He isn’t an academic who dives into the numbers and writes a study about it. He is the one who dives in and takes action. 

Pitch is everything 

You walk into the boardroom where there is a lot of money at stake and you give the pitch. The next five minutes determine the outcome of the meeting. In sales, if you don’t win the deal, you just go to the next one. In a given fund-raising project, you might be trying to raise $10 million for a company and have only 10 pitches to do it. You have to learn it, give it, and raise the money. If you don’t, it’s a catastrophic failure. 

You do what you can to give a pitch that will help you win your sales situation. 

Pitch Anything shares all the things Oren learned from all the pitches and high-stakes situations over 20 years and teaches how to apply the exact same rules to everyday business. Whether you’re taking part in a sales meeting, doing sales over the phone, or recording presentations for a webinar, the book teaches how to win in everyday sales situations. 

Pitch Anything sold a million copies and the follow-up book, Flip the Script, shows you how to do the things you never would have thought possible.

Writing ‘Flip the Script’

Oren has seen people put his concepts into practice: how to open a meeting, how to raise your status, how to control the frame, and how to lead the buyer to a purchasing decision, and how to build your status so high that people will be desperate to buy your product. Even when people are trained, we still make mistakes. This is what Oren has seen and he believes that the follow-up book is going to change the world. 


Oren said that most people wouldn’t recognize his techniques as the way to conduct sales. For example, Oren met with a guy who wanted help in selling his company. They discussed the terms and proposals for 45 minutes. After that, he left and then came back 90 seconds later, which usually isn’t good. You don’t want people to leave just to walk back into the conference room. But when he came back, he had a check ready for $15,000. 

When someone decides that even with no contract, no agreement, and no terms, he’s committed to working with you, this is inception. It happens when the buyer decides internally to do business with you and starts taking things forward. It doesn’t demand price negotiations, because you’ve positioned all the information in such a way that the decision to work with you bubbles up inside them. 

Buyers are cold and digital. They want information, pricing, and a cheaper and better version. There’s no buyer loyalty and they are never satisfied. 

When you order food for a group who’s working late in the conference room, you open the door wide enough to grab the food. There’s no tip and no humans involved. This is what buyers are today.

The conspiracy suggests that you can take that kind of buyer and try to close them by overcoming their objections and selling them, but people aren’t sold. 

We should forget the thought that we can sell to people because that’s not the truth today. People don’t want to be sold, they want to buy. 

Getting started with inception 

Begin by buying the book because it’s where you learn about how to get a buyer to inception. It’s where you are setting up the framework, and leading them through it. 

Next is to recognize that the videos, books, and all the standard knowledge today that are out there represent 40-year-old technology. You aren’t using a 40-year-old phone or a 40-year-old car because life is totally different than it was 40 years ago. Buyers needed you then but they don’t need you anymore because they have the internet. and know that it’s not your fault that you’re being trained on information that is decades old. 

Ask yourself who benefits from the notion that you can overcome objections by selling features and benefits and by providing discounts.

There is a trend, a recurring theme in the market that says “I deserve to get what you sell for free.” Recognize that this trend is out there. Flip the Script will walk you through specific steps that will help you recognize why these concepts don’t work. 

Becoming reliable 

Features and benefits don’t matter until your prospect understands three things:

  • that you’re an expert
  • that what you do is incredibly hard
  • that your product matters in the context of survival of companies

You have to make sure that you are an expert and that you speak their language. They must believe that this is incredibly hard and that nobody else can do it at the level you’re doing it. Lastly, you need to put in a survival context or you change the context. 

There is no point in explaining the features and benefits until all that is baked in., you try to establish all those three things mentioned earlier then you explain the benefits. 

There are probably other vendors who will be pitching the same things and they’ll start with the benefits and the features. You need to be different by coming in and showing that you’re an expert in the industry. Build your character and the character of your business then you go to the features and benefits. 

Power of plain vanilla 

Oren likes to commoditize everyone. Among Microsoft, Oracle, Google Services, and Amazon, they’re all the same stuff. The offerings in the market are plain vanilla, and his company offers the same stuff, too. 

Once you commoditize everybody, you can build the “power of working with me.” Everybody in the industry that you’d be looking at offers nearly identical services at the baseline. Avoid the confusing comparison of features and benefits. Commoditize the competition so that you don’t have to deal with them. You can commoditize your competition and build on that. 

Welcome the anxiety 

Flip the Script includes only new sales information that isn’t available in any other sales book. If the information was presented elsewhere, Oren didn’t include it in his book. As a result, though, there’s a sense of anxiety because it’s all too new.

Take a driverless car. It’s new, it’s cool, and it drives you from your home to your office and across the country. It’s interesting, but are you really going to buy a car without a steering wheel or brakes? Maybe you’d wait for other people to buy it and use it for a year and see what happens.

The highly differentiated features and benefits may also trigger anxiety. The same is true in this industry. We offer additional features that may create anxiety. There is reluctance and we shouldn’t forget that people are like sheep sometimes: we want to follow right behind others. 

In today’s complicated world, if you create something new, people would be interested and at the same time, be anxious. 

Positioning things on a trend

You must learn how to position things on a trend. For example, the trend today is gearing toward AI and machine learning and security hacks. 

Winter is coming. There’s an event in every industry that changes the trend of that particular industry. In real estate, it’s tax and regulation. In consumer devices it’s privacy. You should know that to be able to ride the changing waves. 

For example, when stadium seating came to theaters and stadiums, it wiped out every normal theater. Oren calls it the “nuclear winter” for typical seating. If you were selling anything to a theater during that time, you’d say, “stadium seating is coming, and if you haven’t made that adjustment before then your business won’t survive.” 

Similar to Game of Thrones, when they say Winter is Coming, it means something is coming that is going to change the world and people must believe it and act in order to survive. The same is true in business. Believe that something is coming to your industry and know how to operate on the other side of it. 

Flip the Script 

Buyers have a formula that they impose on you. Flipping the script means you are showing the buyer how they get to buy from you. You are giving them the formula by which they’re allowed to buy from you. 

You don’t control your buyer, you give them options. You flip the usual “do this and do that” speech and instead, sit down with the buyer and present options of how things work. Set a sandbox that the buyer is allowed to play in. 

This is why it’s important for them to know that you speak their language. that you’re an expert, and that what you do is incredibly hard to do. It is important that they know that you have the value or the product or the idea that when the change is finally settling in, you are the one they want to work with. You are setting up the formula that they’re allowed to buy. But you only work with a certain kind of people.

If they end up not buying from you, it means they weren’t right for you. They weren’t going to pay that price where you could have margin, they weren’t going to do reorders, and they weren’t going to be easy customers. 

When you control the formula, it becomes incredibly obvious that they were never going to be a good account.

“Flip the Script” episode resources

Sales leaders can go to FlipTheScriptBonus to see Chapter 1 and get an example of how to do inception. There are basic rules there that are also discussed in this episode. 

You can also connect with Oren via his website where he has some great blog contents and amazing articles. Hear our first conversation with Oren here

Check the TSE Certified Sales Program while you’re at it, while the first two modules are absolutely free. We want you to find the right customers, close deals, and go out every single day doing big things.

This episode is brought to you in part by Audible. Sign up now to get a book for free and enjoy its 30-day free trial. It’s also brought to you by TSE Certified Sales Training Program, a guide for sales reps in finding better prospects, making more meaningful conversations, and knowing the right questions to ask to close a powerful deal. Check it out and give the two free episodes a try. 

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Oren Klaff, The Sales Evangelist, Pitch Anything

TSE 881: The Art & Science of Pitching Anything to Anyone!

Oren Klaff, The Sales Evangelist, Pitch Anything

Oren Klaff calls sales an art form. A lifetime of raising money taught him that it requires the same process as selling: find a buyer, get his attention, hold his attention, convince him to trust you, and then convince him that what you have is scarce. Once he discovers that others want what you have, you can get him to want it for himself.

On today’s episode of The Sales Evangelist, we discuss why selling is a blueprint and how you can succeed at it regardless of who you are.

Develop a format.

Every salesperson needs a format. Being good at sales simply means knowing what to do and say to get people to pay attention to you, trust you, and want what you have.

Sales professionals don’t have to be charismatic. They don’t have to be aggressive.

Think of it this way: football players get paid to drive people into the ground. That doesn’t mean they aren’t nice people; they have a job to do.

Once a sales professional understands the mechanics of sales, he can turn the presentation into a performance. Like a TED Talk, he can turn it into infotainment and leave the prospect feeling like he’s in the hands of an expert.

Once you understand the format for selling, you can deliver the presentation in your own style. You don’t have to try to be someone else. You can simply be the guy who has a presentation that works for selling.

Stop being a chameleon.

Sales professionals who become chameleons every time they make a sale end up exhausted. Reacting to the buyer’s needs leaves you feeling schizophrenic.

Instead, develop a pitch that works every time. Once you do, you’ll know that when your pitch doesn’t work, it’s because the prospect wasn’t really a buyer.

Instead of supplicating yourself to the buyer, you can learn to bring your own energy to the transaction.

When you enter a sales situation and you’re reactive to the buyer (you’re laughing at bad jokes or ignoring the fact that they are checking their phones during your presentation) you have a weak frame.

Your frame is your information, your personality, your agenda and your value. Your buyer has a frame too, and those frames will collide during negotiations and deals. The stronger frame wins.

Frame the situation correctly.

Oren doesn’t believe in win-win situations in sales. If there’s no tension or conflict, there’s probably no sale.

Think about a person with a power frame.

It’s the person who believes salespeople are there to provide free service and information and cater to his whims.

“What do you have?” “What else do you have?” “I know we set aside an hour but I only have 15 minutes.”

That frame must be broken in order for things to progress.

The buyer’s perceived control over the seller’s destiny makes the buyer seem dominant. If the seller perceives himself as a lower social order than the buyer, he must reorganize the hierarchy in his mind.

You must change your thinking to realize that you are more important than he is. All he has is money, which is a commodity. You can get money anywhere.

He has a problem that you have a solution to, but he can’t get that solution anywhere. He needs you.

Try the following phrases to reframe the situation:

  • “I’m glad I could make some time for you today.”
  • “If I can help you with your problems, I will. Otherwise, I’ll make a recommendation.”

Be the Navy SEAL of your business.

Oren tells of a philosophy the Navy SEALs use in an attack: close distance on the attack and shut it down.

In sales, that looks like this: when a buyer asks for something unreasonable, like a price that prevents you from making any margin, you step into the moral authority frame.

Don’t play nice.

You’ve done everything you can to help the buyer and provide value, and the buyer asks you to forego making any money. Say something like, “Why would I ever do business with you? That makes no sense.”

Either your buyer will realize that he is outside the lines of moral behavior and apologize, or he’ll stand his ground and insist that the buyer has the right to decide the price.

If he does the latter, he wasn’t really a buyer anyway. He might have even been looking for a reason to walk away.

As you strive to do this, you’ll eventually miss a sale. You’ll create some anxiety for yourself, but you’ll also stop seeing yourself as the lesser person in every transaction.

“Oren Klaff” episode resources

Oren Klaff operates by three values:

  1. People want what they can’t have.
  2. They chase what moves away from them.
  3. They only value that which they pay for.

Connect with him on pitchanything.com and he’ll send you information that will help you frame your sales this way, regardless of industry.

The book Stop Selling & Start Leading: How to Make Extraordinary Sales Happen from our sponsors at Wiley provides a fantastic blueprint of all the things buyers say they expect and want from sellers. I’m offering a free excerpt of the book so you can learn how to sell by leading rather than supplicating yourself to the buyer.

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