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Summary: The New Model of Selling: Selling to an Unsellable Generation by Jerry Acuff and Jeremy Miner

Key Takeaways

  • In this article, we will review the book The New Model of Selling: Selling to an Unsellable Generation by Jerry Acuff and Jeremy Miner, and summarize its main ideas and insights.
  • If you want to learn how to sell more effectively and ethically to today’s customers, read on to find out how the new model of selling can help you achieve your sales goals.


Today’s B2B salespeople ply their trade in an atmosphere in which modern buyers – from the “unsellable generation”– are likely to distrust them automatically. To survive, sales experts Jerry Acuff and Jeremy Miner explain, salespeople must abandon antiquated methods and ideas and replace them with an up-to-date approach to selling that is in sync with today’s challenging times. The authors urge B2B salespeople to set aside uncomfortable sales personas and boiler room tactics. Instead, salespeople should think like their prospects. This strategy, Acuff and Miner promise, will humanize B2B selling, eliminate client resistance and pave the way to sales success.

Summary: The New Model of Selling: Selling to an Unsellable Generation by Jerry Acuff and Jeremy Miner


  • Today’s B2B buyers are well-informed, skeptical and, often, “unsellable.”
  • Discard old ideas about sales.
  • You can’t sell a solution unless the client has a problem.
  • Selling isn’t rocket science. It’s neuroscience.
  • Adopt a “new model of selling” based on five core concepts: “Develop, Engage, Learn, Tell and Ask.”
  • Talk less and listen more.
  • Ask the right questions to get information and commitment from buyers.
  • A conditional decision is a real decision.


Today’s B2B buyers are well-informed, skeptical and, often, “unsellable.”

In decades past, determined people with hustle could make a living in sales. Now, salespeople must somehow “sell to an unsellable generation.” This sounds tough – and it is. Selling has changed dramatically. For example, due to technological advances, the standard practice of cold calling is nearly dead. Many salespeople are struggling to keep up with a perplexing, frustrating and difficult sales world.

“We salespeople cannot be wiped away.”

Today, thanks to the internet, social media, high-tech information analysis and new communication channels, buyers can – with a few mouse clicks – get all the sales information they need about their potential purchases. Modern buyers pride themselves on their skepticism, so they don’t trust salespeople or anyone else. Customers believe they are their own most trustworthy experts.

To sell to contemporary buyers, sales professionals must stop thinking like sellers and start thinking like their prospects and clients. Of course, this is not a new concept, but it leads to a new path: salespeople must organize their thinking and align their sales skills to fit the latest findings about human behavior.

Old sales frameworks no longer work, and traditional sales methods have passed their sell-by dates. Contemporary salespeople must reframe sales itself.

Discard old ideas about sales.

Consider your current sales strategies and the philosophy behind them. Many archaic ideas about sales still drive salespeople’s actions. You must discard them – and here’s why:

  • Most people don’t understand what selling entails – Many people, including salespeople, have a misguided idea about what selling means. It’s certainly not about pressuring or convincing people to buy. Salespeople must interact and engage with interested prospects to determine, first, whether there is a sale to be made.
  • Pressure will backfire – High-pressure tactics are the antithesis of professional selling. Inevitably, such manipulation almost always causes a backlash since beleaguered prospects shun needy salespeople who try to push them into no-way-out corners.
  • Clients no longer rely on salespeople for most product information – Prior to the advent of the Internet and social media, most people had only a few ways to learn about their options when they needed products or services. Salespeople helped fill that void. Now, people can get all the product and service data they need – and more – with a few mouse clicks or smartphone swipes. This makes salespeople and all the old sales tricks – like ABC (“always be closing”) – irrelevant.
  • Modern buyers are exceedingly tough customers. – Contemporary purchasers are impatient. They are besieged with competitive sales information, and many of them use that data to knock ill-prepared salespeople right out of the box.
  • Tired sales tactics “trigger…sales resistance” – Some older sales methods directly challenge potential buyers, even though no one appreciates challenges from a salesperson. If you challenge a prospect, you’ll need to have much better sales information than he or she could accrue. Find your edge in understanding the prospect as well as you understand your product.
  • Trust has died”– Most contemporary prospective clients assume that salespeople care only about their own products and are not trustworthy regarding the comparative value of their offerings. Telling a cynical prospect “trust me” will generate the opposite effect.

You can’t sell a solution unless the client has a problem.

“Needs-based selling,” also known as “consultative selling,” calls for identifying and fixing people’s problems. However, salespeople who volunteer information about their customers’ supposed issues may learn that their prospects, for one reason or another, don’t care about fixing whatever problems the salesperson has identified. Most likely, the salesperson has made this diagnosis from the perspective of his or her product, not from the prospective client’s point of view.

“You can’t get new results with old habits. You can’t get new results with the same actions…You have to do something different.” (Weldon Long, The Power of Consistency)

While salespeople may see certain solutions as meeting a need, prospects may experience the related problem as little more than a minor irritant. As a salesperson, you can’t expect someone to buy your solution to a problem he or she doesn’t acknowledge or care about solving. Learn what issues your customers identify as problematic and then offer your solution – if it is appropriate and fits the customers’ mind-set.

Selling isn’t rocket science. It’s neuroscience.

Making a sale depends on understanding what’s going on inside your buyer’s mind. As salespeople discard old, unscientific sales beliefs, they must learn reliable ideas and techniques from neuroscience and apply them to selling.

The concept of a “skilled conversation” is foremost among these. Your presentations will be most persuasive when your listener wants to be persuaded. Therefore, your presentations have the least power when you try to dominate someone or force people to do what you want.

“Gone are the days when you could sell your benefits and features, tell your story, give presentations, create a vision and talk down your competitors, hoping to build credibility with your product or service.”

Customers decide to buy from you for emotional reasons, and then use logic later to justify their decisions. Positive emotions stem from trust, so to make a sale, you must become someone a potential customer can trust. To build that trust, be relaxed when you present. Stay chilled out and calm. Help build your clients’ feeling that this interesting, informative discussion about your products or services is not stressful.

Avoid saying, “You should” or “You want to.” Instead say, “You might want to” or “This might possibly work for you.” Choose these words to help your potential clients understand that the decision is theirs to make and that you are not even thinking about talking them into anything.

Adopt a “new model of selling” based on five core concepts: “Develop, Engage, Learn, Tell and Ask.”

Author Jerry Acuff named his company Delta Point because DELTA is an acronym that highlights the primary elements of The New Model of Selling:

  • Develop – Spark your prospects’ interests so they listen to your information about your products or services.
  • Engage – Join your prospects in a dialogue that is meaningful to them.
  • Learn – Gather all the knowledge you can amass about your prospects’ problems and challenges.
  • Tell – Relate stories about your products or services only after you know your offerings will solve your clients’ problems.
  • Ask – When you know your products or services are perfect for your prospects, and your timing is appropriate to their needs, ask your prospect to commit to your solutions.

Following these steps when you’re making a sale will help you meet three crucial goals, the “holy troika”: cutting down sales resistance, putting the spotlight on the client, and spurring prospects to reason through their own situation so they naturally begin to question their current approach.

Talk less and listen more.

Salespeople feel disappointed when their prospects don’t listen to them, but far too few salespeople listen to their prospects. In sales, it’s not enough that you know 90% of your prospects’ stories; you need to know 100% of their stories. This requires “open listening” and being attentive but never judgmental.

“A case study of 16,000 people stated that 95% of customers think that sales reps talk too much.”

Pay 100% attention to everything your prospects tell you. As you listen, turn off your natural urge to think about what you’ll say next. Don’t try to work out your response while your customer is speaking. Just listen and learn.

Ask the right questions to get information and gain commitment from buyers.

Asking the right questions requires proper planning. Before meeting with a prospect, write a list of the points of information you must secure.

“Eighty-six percent of customers think that sales reps ask the wrong questions.”

Practice asking your questions out loud so you can hear how you sound. In sales, the right questions include:

  • “Connection” questions – These questions focus on the buyer, not the salesperson. Example: When you saw an advertisement for our product, what drew your attention?
  • “Situation questions” – These questions enable you to learn about your buyer’s circumstances. For example, a life insurance salesperson might ask, “What type of financial coverage [do] you have now for your family?” Or, if you’re discussing a particular policy, you might inquire, Is this a strategy you might want for your family’s protection?
  • “Problem-awareness questions” – These questions focus on the buyers’ problems. For example, a real-estate salesperson might ask, Are you happy with your current house?
  • “Solution-awareness questions” – These questions help buyers build an emotional attachment to your proposed solutions for their immediate problems. You might ask, Have you taken any steps so far to change the current setup?
  • “Consequence questions” – These questions enable buyers to assess the impact of not fixing their problems. Example: What might be the results if you can’t find a way to address this situation?
  • “Qualifying questions” – These questions focus your buyers’ minds on the importance of solving their problems. Example: If your product demonstration intrigues your decision-makers, ask, What next steps do you envision?
  • “Transition questions” – These questions enable you to move from selling to solving your buyers’ problems. Example: Do you think the moment has come to make a change?
  • Referral questions – To gain crucial referrals, ask satisfied customers if they know anyone else who is confronting the issues you’ve solved for them.
  • “Committing questions” – Committing questions and committing statements might cover where things stand and what might happen next. You could say something like, It seems we’ve taken care of your goals, here. The follow-up would be making an arrangement together. A committing question might be, So that we can go ahead and take care of this, would this be the time to coordinate our calendars, so we can move forward? Asking committing questions and making parallel statements enable your prospects to persuade and “close themselves.”

A conditional decision is a real decision.

At this stage of your sales process, you can request a “conditional decision.” For example, you might say, If you plan to take this path, do you have an idea of when you’d like to act? This matters because a conditional decision requires the client to decide – it is a real decision.

Consider these tips:

  • Never engage in sales pressure.
  • Never use the term “contract.” Say “agreement.”
  • Use “encouraging body language,” such as nodding your head as your prospects speak.
  • Check with your prospects to make sure your recommended next steps still make sense to them.
  • Cover all your prospects’ concerns.

If you use this sales model, you can stop pressuring clients, avoid most cold calling, and become your prospects’ trusted product or service expert. Such advisors engage with their prospects – a crucial goal given that engagement constitutes 85% of selling – and make consistent sales.

About the Authors

Jerry Acuff is the founder and CEO of Delta Point. Jeremy Miner is the founder and chairman of 7th Level.


Sales, Business, Marketing, Psychology, Communication, Persuasion, Self-help, Education, Nonfiction, Professional Development


The New Model of Selling: Selling to an Unsellable Generation is a book by Jerry Acuff and Jeremy Miner that challenges the conventional wisdom of sales and offers a new approach based on neuroscience and persuasion. The authors argue that the old way of selling, which relies on pitching, presenting, and closing, is ineffective and outdated in today’s market, where buyers are more informed, skeptical, and resistant to sales pressure. Instead, they propose a new model of selling that focuses on helping the customer think for themselves, solve their own problems, and make their own decisions. The book explains how to use the power of your voice, listen and learn, ask the right questions, and build trust and rapport with your customers. The book also provides a step-by-step guide to the three stages of the new model of selling: the engagement stage, the transitional stage, and the commitment stage. The book is full of practical examples, stories, and tips that illustrate the concepts and techniques of the new model of selling. The book is aimed at anyone who wants to improve their sales skills and results, regardless of their industry or experience level.

The book is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to learn how to sell to an unsellable generation. It shows how to adapt to the changing needs and preferences of today’s buyers, and how to create a genuine connection and value proposition that will persuade them to buy from you. The book is not only informative, but also entertaining and engaging, as the authors use humor, anecdotes, and metaphors to make their points. The book is a must-read for anyone who wants to master the art and science of selling in the 21st century.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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