Commercial efficiency
5 min reading

Directivity: The secret of successful salespeople

Cyprien Borios
Published on
What is this secret?

When I was in intership, my CEO said something that shocked me:

"When you run a company, you have no time for anything. You always have to be at the top of your game, thinking, giving directions. So when someone is able to give me coherent instructions, who's able to drive me, I feel like I'm getting a breath of fresh air. For once, I can rely on someone. It's really nice.

This applied to our meetings.

It was even more so when a salesman came to pitch him a solution.

Today, I would even add: the higher the decision-makers, the more directive you should be!

1. What is meant by directionality?

Directionality is the act of guiding one's clients' decision.

Let's agree: a salesman 's directivity towards his prospect is different from a manager 's directivity towards his teams:

  • There is a subordinate relationship between a manager and his or her staff. Employees are legally obliged to perform the tasks they are asked to do.
  • Your prospect is under no obligation to you. You are not imposing anything, you are expressing a direction - which your customer is free to follow, or not.

Thus, the directionality is there to enlighten him, to guide him, and to put him on the path to solving the problem.

2. Why does it work?

Start from this premise: The brain does not like to think. It was designed to do as little as possible, and thus save its energy. So, if your prospect perceives a problem, he will wait until the last moment, when the situation is almost untenable, to start looking for a solution...

Being a sales person is not just about "offering a solution" - it is much more.

Your prospects expect you to solve their problem, from A to Z

To do this, you will go through several phases:

  1. Demonstrate that the problem exists
  2. Prove that your solution fits the problem
  3. Convince each of the stakeholders that your solution is the right one: Decision-makers - buyers - users

Like a project manager, you will have to anticipate unforeseen events, manage milestones and coordinate many people. And coordination means leadership. 

Your mission is to move the schmilblick forward.

And to move forward, the famous "schmilblick" needs to be directed.

3. The strength of directionality

Unless you are selling churros on the beach, you need to be directive. No directionality = no deal breakthroughs.

Indeed, a directive attitude allows to :

  • Leading the discussion - and avoiding those long discussions that beat around the bush.
  • Move fast - get everyone to play their part, while you follow up.
  • Gain credibility - by giving direction. Your prospect will say to himself : "This person is serious, he knows where he is going. You don't waste your time with them".
  • Confronting obstacles quickly - yes, this is an advantage - because you will quickly know whether YES, your prospect can turn into a customer, or on the contrary whether you are wasting your time.

At Modjo, there's no shortage of them!

4. How to be more directive?

Leadership is a state of mind. Solving the problem rests on your shoulders as a salesperson. To accompany you on this journey, here are some examples of application:

1. When making a customer appointment :

We've already talked about it in this article on cold calling with 3 techniques to help you pass the standards, but as soon as you make an appointment, you need to set the tone:

❌ "Is it still OK if we meet on the 9th? At what time would you ideally be available?"
✅ "So I can confirm that we'll see you on the 9th at 9am by video. I'll send you the invitation."

If your prospect has a busy schedule (like everyone else in 2022), or just seems a bit nervous, reassure him => he is not committing to anything.

❌ "Will you have availability in two weeks' time?"
✅ "I propose a progress report in two weeks' time. To make sure we don't forget, I'm putting it in our diaries. Don't hesitate to adjust this point if you are not available.

👌 Reminder: ALWAYS send an invitation to the prospect's calendar.

💎 Tip: Stop apologising so much. You are salespeople. You'r doing your job. Yes you are going to bump into a few people. That's life, learn to be comfortable with that, or your interlocutors won't be either.

2. In meetings / presentations / demos : 

If the person has a vague position, ask for a presentation:

✅ "What I would suggest is that you start by giving me a quick presentation of your scope of work at {company}, so I can tailor my presentation around that. Does that sound good to you? "

Your time is precious. If a participant is late for the start ... :

❌ "What are we doing here? "
✅ "I know you have a busy schedule, so I suggest we get started right away. I'll give {the latecomer} a recap."

Set the scope of the discussion by explaining why you are here - and why your prospects are interested in listening to you:

❌ *Attack directly*
✅ "The purpose of this exchange; is for you to fully understand how we work, what we're going to be able to bring to you, and whether it's worth it for us to move forward together. Is that okay with you?"

Another magic question, to identify the expectations of your interlocutor:

✅ "What do you expect from this meeting?"

Video example with Tom, AE at Modjo (🇫🇷):

3. At the end of the appointment :

❌ “J’attends votre retour.”
✅ “Pour les next step, voici ce que je vous propose : de mon côté, je valide la faisabilité de {requête X}, du vôtre, vous validez, {éléments à valider}, et on en reparle le 6 à 15h. Je vous envoie une invitation."
❌ “Je vous laisse regarder tout ça en interne, et on voit ce qu’on fait pour la suite.”
✅ “On se fait un point d’étape lundi prochain dans l’après-midi. Je vous envoie une invitation. Je pense également ajouter {votre manager} dans la boucle, afin que vous puissiez prendre votre décision sur le même niveau d’information : à 17h ça vous conviendrait à tous les 2 ?”

Video example with Tom, AE at Modjo (🇫🇷):

4. In negotiations :

A negotiation is a dialogue. Ask questions that move the deal forward:

❌ "I'd love to work together"
✅ "We want to work with you. What can we do to make it work?"
❌ "We do a test, and at the end you tell me how it goes? I'm confident."
✅ "If we validate the POC (or test), what projections would you see?"

5. Closing :

How many deals fail close to the goal?

"We were THIS close to signing 🤏 ... and then not" => You hear that one every day.

More than ever, you need to get all stakeholders on board until the signing.

Deadline = prioritisation. Imposing a deadline :

❌ "I'm waiting for you to send the signed quote back to me"
✅ "If you are given {negotiated advantage 1}, regardless of when we go for it, the contract must be signed by the end of the month. Otherwise, it's no longer valid."

Important: One forgotten person can ruin all your efforts. If you feel it coming on, take the initiative and quickly suggest solutions:

❌ "Do you think your CEO will validate?"
✅ "If you think it can make a difference, I'll have my CEO call your CEO."


Your directionality will determine the speed at which your deal will evolve.

Rest assured, you will not come across as an authoritarian tyrant, for the simple reason that your prospect always remains free to make his or her own choices. In fact, whenever you give instructions, don't hesitate to remind them of this freedom: 

"If you're OK with it?" and "What do you think?" are among the magic keys that defuse any resentment that might start to fester.

Beyond these standard phrases, the most important thing is to keep in mind this directive posture.

Each deal is like a crossing of the ocean.

Stop being blown about by the wind, get out your compass, and grab that rudder.

You ARE the captain.


Cyprien Borios
Sales content expert
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