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Robert Bell

Don’t Think Outside the Box, Use ‘Inside-Out Thinking’ To Get Inside the Box

The most successful sales strategy is getting the customer to think and talk.




Don’t Think Outside the Box, Use ‘Inside-Out Thinking’ To Get Inside the Box

“THINK OUT OF THE BOX.” Oh, please. Kill me now. Try this instead: first, build a box. Your own box. If you build it yourself, you’ll know what’s inside of the box and what’s outside and you can act accordingly.

“Been there. Done that.” Yeah? Were you any good at? If you were, keep on doing it. If you weren’t, get good at it. Or are you above that now?

“Seek a win-win situation.” Does this really need be spelled out for anyone … if your patients/customers win, you win too? You’re too smart for that.

“Push the envelope.” Where? Shouldn’t you open the envelope first and deal with the contents? What if you “push the envelope” too far and there are explosive situations in that envelope? Ka-boom!

“The customer is always right.” Umm…

I’m a big fan of doing the “opposite” or what I call “inside-out thinking.” I like (gently) throwing curve balls as it gets people thinking and talking. And, that’s the most successful sales strategy I know: getting the customer to think and talk. Y’see, I don’t like taking things at face value; especially customers. I call this The Anti-Concept because it flies in the face of conventional thinking.


I was told, when I was younger, that I always looked for the easy way out. That I didn’t want to invest the hard work it took to succeed at whatever was laid in front of me. It implied I was lazy.

Yet, more often than not, I had the same outcomes as others who went the traditional way. So, I always wondered: if the “easy way out” garners the same results as the “hard way,” wouldn’t it be illogical (in most cases) not to take the easy route?

And, when I say route, most of the time, I’m talking about heading in the right direction.

Most folks start from the outside and try to move inside. The outside is easy, they think. The outside is right in front of us. It’s the proverbial “book by its cover.” It’s so easy to judge a book by its cover, isn’t it?

Do you know what’s in the inside? Context. Meaning. Reasoning. The “whys” and “hows” of things.  

As a sales professional, I know the “inside” is where all the problems and challenges exist. I know I need to get to them quickly to determine whether or not I might offer the solutions, be it a product or service. I know, right off the bat, I need to delve and investigate by asking specific questions that bring the inside out! It doesn’t take long to do this. In fact, it’s very easy and extremely efficient.


Too many times, I’ve seen salespeople making their presentations to the “outside” without knowing anything about the “inside.” In other words, they aren’t delving. They aren’t asking questions to the inside. They are just chipping away at the outside and that, my friends, is extraordinarily hard work.

Change direction and go right to the inside. You won’t believe how easy and effective it can be. Besides, I’m here to tell ya, it’s a lot of fun too!



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