Business strategy
4 min reading

5 Pillars of Data Driven Selling

Paul Berloty
Published on
data-driven sales pillars

What if buying was not a decision?

You read that right. 

Buying is not a decision. 

At least, it's not just one decision, but a series of decisions.

More than decisions, these are answers to questions that every prospect asks: 

  1. "Do I like this person?"
  2. "Do I trust this person or this company?"
  3. "Does its offer meet any of my needs?"
  4. "Do his arguments apply to my situation?"
  5. "Is it worth it financially?"

For each of these questions, the answer must be "yes".

Would you be willing to work with someone you didn't trust? 


Like you, your prospect needs to know and feel certain things before buying your product or service.

So here are our 5 pillars of Data Driven sales, to become a better salesman, a better saleswoman, a better Salesman.

Intuitu personae, trust, desire,authority and social proof are complementary and indispensable.

Put a little of each in your sales. 

You will see the result.

Intuitu personae

The customer is not only buying your product, he is buying you.

Does a prospect like you? He'll be looking for reasons to buy.

That same prospect doesn't like you? He'll find reasons not to buy.

"In the beginning your product doesn't exist, or it's very incomplete, so it's very hard to sell. This will force you to innovate: instead of selling your product, sell your project, sell your vision, sell your team. At every one of your meetings, your prospect should ask you if he can invest"

Steve Abou Rjeily - Co-founder Sales Doctolib

This advice has influenced us heavily at Modjo and it illustrates our point perfectly.

Every sale is influenced by what the prospect thinks of us.

Instead of just focusing on selling your product or service, think about selling yourself.

For those of us who, reading this, feel that we are not learning anything and who think we are.

There is only one way to check:

How many job offers have you received after a meeting with a prospect?

If you are in a young startup, how many investment proposals?

"I've noticed that when I talk to strangers as if we've known each other for a long time, they tend to do the same."

Claude Whitacre - One Call Closing.

One of the most effective ways to make a prospect like you is to create a closeness with the person you are talking to by juggling informality and formality.

When possible, offer to be on first-name terms and present yourself in a personal way.

You have obviously taken the time to prepare for your meeting and you have not overlooked any common relationships you may have with your interviewer.

His latest Linkedin post or even other topics that might be useful to you.

"But my prospects, forget it, it's impossible to be on first-name terms with them or to create proximity..."

Yes, it's likely, although statistically most of us have never actually tried it...

Building a social relationship means taking an interest in the other person rather than talking about yourself: the more you expose yourself, the more likely you are to give the other person reasons to dislike you or points of disagreement.

Some tips on what to avoid:

Saying too much about yourself, denigrating the competition, criticising a choice made by the other person, feigning interest and cutting off an exchange are clearly counterproductive.


Does your prospect not trust you or your company?

Good luck...

If I had to choose which of these 5 pillars is the most important, without a doubt it would be this one.

Fun fact: Be careful what articles or books you read on this subject.

The methods for building trust are more or less similar in Europe (France, Germany, Spain, ...) but very different in the United Kingdom or the United States.

A good French salesman, even with a good level of English, will not necessarily be a good salesman in the United States of America and vice versa.

"In the Anglo-Saxon markets, more than in the rest of the markets, it is essential to "Start with the Why", selling by vision is a cultural strength. Confidence must come from these strong convictions, the "Why" and the vision we bring."

"This why & How can be enough to create a relationship of trust that will allow us to move forward quickly and decide."

"In continental European markets, the "Why" is also very important, but trust also comes from a greater attention to detail.

"The teams believe that what they see, the trust will go through the realization of more in-depth presentation, stronger pedagogy, sometimes even by proof of concept"

Johan Benoualid - VP Sales Akeneo

In France or in Europe, don't be conceptual. Don't oversell your technology, your prospects will ask you to technically demonstrate all your arguments.

In Europe, to gain your prospect's trust, a well-placed "no" is better than an endless series of "yeses".

Don't be afraid to say "no", to answer that you don't know, or to be sincere when something is not possible.

The desire

Your prospect must want what you have to sell.

Be careful, if you try to apply the following, you may pass a certain point. Perhaps a point of no return...

How do you create desire? 

When I ask this question, I regularly hear the same answer:

"I show them the key features"

"I tell them about all the benefits they will get from using our service"

"I talk about the clients we work with"

Yes, why not... But there are better things.

One of the biggest challenges of being a salesperson is that ... you are a salesperson.

No matter how nice your prospect thinks you are, he or she will still find it difficult to trust you

He knows the purpose of your job: to sell.

You may have Barack Obama's level of oratory and be extremely convincing but ...

"Wait, he's a salesman, he's not going to tell us his product is no good..." 

Your prospect knows that there is a risk that you are exaggerating to make your sale.

The only person present at the meeting whom the prospect trusts blindly is himself. 

When your prospect says something, it's true. When you say it, there is doubt.

To create desire, the best of us use a technique that makes a lot of sense.

Commercial: "what do you like about our offer?"

If you are into more difficult sales such as outbound sales, in addition to having my respect I advise you to approach the question slightly differently to avoid the classic :

"Look, you're the one who came to us to present your product, we don't know your product..."

Instead, do :

"I know you know next to nothing about what we do, but in order to save you time and to avoid me going into a long monologue, do you have any idea what you like about our product?"


In both cases, let your prospect answer this question and feed their long monologue with relevant questions.

"Erm what I like about your product is that it can save me time..."

"Oh yeah right and why do you think it can save you time?"

"Well for this reason and that reason?"

"Ok very clear and so you think our product could help you?"

"Yes but well, I don't know any more..."

Imagine how difficult it will be for that same prospect to end the meeting by saying "I don't think your product will save me time".

Your prospect will kindly take care of making the sale himself.

Ask your prospect how they intend to use your product or service, what they like most, why they might need it... without ever interrupting them, let them project themselves.

The authority

Being nice and reassuring is good, but it is not enough to sell every time.

To convince, trust, desire or intuitu personae are of little value without authority in your market.

Humans naturally obey authority in the broadest sense.

If you, your team or your company are perceived as an expert in your field, if your words, actions and image indicate that you are important, then you have become an "authority".

Publishing quality content, participating in webinars, being active on LinkedIn or communicating about the awards you have won are methods of demonstrating your authority.

Few of us are extremely comfortable with putting ourselves forward and boasting about our achievements.

The best of us are subtle in this exercise.

They impose their "authority" at the beginning of the meeting when they introduce themselves. 

They have worked on their presentations over and over again.

Average salesperson :

Prospect: "How are you?"

Sales: "Good"

Trained commercial :

Prospect: "How are you doing?"

Sales: "Listen, everything is going well, I just got off the phone with (client name acknowledged) who was telling me how extremely satisfied they are with our tool. It's so satisfying..."

Social proof

As we said above: if everyone buys your products or services (or that's the impression you give), your prospects will be more likely to become customers too.

Attention, this is the moment of "societal reflection": what do we want?

  • What everyone wants and what is popular
  • What you can't have or think is unattainable

To fit in, we imitate our social groups.

If all your friends have iPhones, you probably have one too.

You also need to show that you are like your prospect, that you have things in common and that you are part of the same community. That your current customers are like him and like you. 

If you want to measure the relevance of this pillar and you are on a historical Quarter in terms of performance: try to tell your prospect that he will be the very first in his category to use your product, you will see how this argument will not reassure him.

Few of us will dare ... and we understand them.

Mentioning clients can work in your favour, especially if done correctly.

Classical method :

"We already work with Decathlon and Auchan."

More successful method:

"I understand your problem quite well, it's actually quite similar to what our client Decathlon had before we worked with them. This is what was going on for them... and this is how we managed to solve that problem together."

Make the most of social proof to convince, reassure and inspire action. Use it subtly.

The best of us use it almost 3x more than the average salesperson. 

Do as they do, sprinkle your sales pitch with the names of your customers who have achieved incredible results using your solution.


Whatever your level, you can improve on these 5 pillars.

Look back at your last 10 failed sales and ask yourself, "Which of these 5 pillars of selling did you miss?"

Apply what you have just learned to the product or service you are selling.


Still not convinced that training makes a difference?

I am available to discuss this.

Good luck 💪


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Paul Berloty
CEO & Co-founder
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