Integrity Selling


This book by Ron Willingham is an excellent book on selling.

There is a lot to commend about this book and the approach to sales it proposes. It would be a good investment to add to your sales library.

The following pages discuss some of the concepts covered in the book, especially those that I agree with. Those concepts I do not agree with are not covered in as much detail. Therefore you should not consider this webpage as a true summary of the book because it is not complete and it is biased by my beliefs.

The system of selling recommended is based on values and integrity.
It has six steps which you can remember by using the acronym AID Inc(which you have to bend a bit to make fit) this stands for six steps:

  • Approach
  • Interview
  • Demonstrate
  • Validate
  • Negotiate
  • Close.

There are many statements in Integrity Selling which I find hard to disagree with:

  • Tricky persuasion techniques don’t really work.
  • Tune the world out and your prospect in.
  • Put them at ease and make them feel important.
    (Say to yourself, “At this moment this is the most important person in the world to me!”)
  • Get them talking about themselves.
  • Hold eye contact & listen to how they feel.
  • Failure to close is always caused by failure to complete a step (not 100% sure I agree)
  • Big-ticket sales people are successful because of their desire to deliver value to people. 

How to Approach People

Ron writes that there are four “Styles of Buyers”: 

  • Talker, 
  • Doer, 
  • Plodder, 
  • Controller

This is where I have some difficulty agreeing with the ideas presented in the book since I have always disliked the tendency to pigeonhole people. 

The author himself even writes: 
“I think there’s a danger in being overly concerned with identifying buyer styles…so concerned.. that we don’t really listen and develop empathy with people. Then our selling becomes technique-based, not principle-based and value focused” 


Another quote.
“Trying to analyse someone’s style when you’re in front of them can be self defeating.” (I agree) 

He suggests you pre-program your approach to your prospect’s style, go over it before the call so that you relate to that style unconsciously during the meeting.

If you want to really understand how your prospects think and make decisions there are a few simple questions to ask that'll give you information specific to them and allow you phrase your words for maximum impact. It leads to responsive customers.

Trying to pigeon-hole someone into a group of people during a sales call, I believe, is not effective. 
My way is about undetstand the person in front of you.

There is no need to discover the style of your prospect just respond to what they give you.
Ask questions, then look and listen.
Parrot phrase what they tell you (yes the spelling is correct, I do not mean paraphrase) and repeat what’s important to them.
If you want to go a step further and build great rapport and understand them as a unique person, ask questions that'll create a responsive customer.

You can read here for some more information and a process of how to start your conversations with parrot phrasing .. Needs versus Wants

Interview and find out People’s Needs

“You don’t sell products…... people buy them when they’ll fill their needs or solve their problems.” (Yes! Yes! Yes!)

The purpose of Interview Questions: 

  • To get customer doing 80% of talking, 
  • To help salesperson understand customer’s wants/needs, 
  • To help customer discover, verbalise wants/needs, 
  • To let customer know by actions that salesperson want to help them
  • Identify dominant wants/needs, get prospect to agree

“In this strategy we listen people into buying, rather than talk them into buying” 
“Asking questions, listening and writing down puts your customers in the position of selling themselves” 
“Professional salespeople have the skill of relating to different styles of buyers. ..also understand basic buying motives of different people..because they have trained themselves to ask questions.. and to listen to the obvious and not-so obvious”

Selling to different people means tuning into their ways of thinking and acting. 
I write about that here in Responsive Customers

The author suggests that you mention only the features and benefits that relate to the needs and wants that have been identified.
I agree wholeheartedly.
The scattergun approach should have died long ago.
I believe it did die for the better sales people.

The author also suggests you ask for prospect’s reactions, feelings, and opinions.. (Yes, it’s called a trial close.)

“Avoid talking about price ….Concentrate on finding best fit for their needs…”
“The right time to talk about the cost is when you think your prospect will see that the value exceeds the cost.” 
“When you present the price: look into their eyes, say the price/cost as though it were worth 10x what you’re asking and translate cost into value (comparison frame, ROI, show savings, mention good feeling re owning the product/service).”

“Never begin selling, telling or demonstrating until your prospect admits a need or desire.” ( Sounds logical to me.)


“In your demo, when you mention product/service features, look and point to the feature. But when you mention the corresponding benefit, look at the person.”(Ohhh, I like that.)

“…get the prospect involved in the demonstration, appeal to both logic and emotions, position yourself well & don’t invade their space, choose the best environment for the meeting…” I would probably put more weight on this statement than the author himself, especially the middle part.


Validate Your Claims

“Translate features into benefits, “What it means to you is..”.” 

“Offer proof of benefit, mention satisfied users, testimonials and research done on the product or service.” 

There is a subtlety about how you present this proof not mentioned in the book. You need to present this information to your prospect in a way that is easy for them to understand and aligned with the way they think.

I call this persuasion psychology.

I like the comment , “the longer a proposal sits with them the colder it gets…so (after a short period of time) send a letter thanking them and saying something like, “Oh, incidentally, here are a couple of our other satisfied users I forgot to tell you about.”.”

Validate Yourself

“Factors that cause people to make assumptions about us:

  • dress, 
  • grooming, 
  • talk, 
  • body language, 
  • eye contact, 
  • tone….

it seems we validate by who we are….this is why integrity, honesty and genuine concern for your customers and their needs powerfully influence your ability to develop trust with people.”

The author goes on to discuss validating yourself to different buyer styles.
Rather than validating yourself I would use the term build rapport between you and your prospect, (as Ron does in the quote from his book, below).
And you build rapport with an individual not with a style!

“Where trust and Rapport are high, selling pressure is Low” 

It’s amazing how many sales books talk about establishing Rapport with a prospect but so few of them actually explain how to do it. Integrity Selling doesn't cover this well either.

“What you present must appear to be consistent with the values of your prospect”
“Selling isn’t all’s about having a strong value system!”
“My belief is that when we actually have these values, (the author is talking about Integrity and High ethics ) our actions or sales performance will be an extension of them. We perform consistent with who we are.”

Negotiate Problems and Objections

Willingham discusses how to negotiate with the different styles of buyer.
I will not cover this here, as I do not agree with the approach.

I have a long page on this website with a lot of tips about handling objections, you may like to take a look at it.

The author writes: 
We can’t talk people into changing their mind but can listen them into changing. 
We should welcome objections and seek to understand how our prospect feels. 
Identify specific objections and get agreement that these are the only ones

Discuss possible solutions and ask the prospect’s ideas on the best solutions. 
(I love this approach) 

In shifting the focus from the problem to finding a solution. 
In asking the customer, “What are some possible solutions?”.
Often they sell themselves. 
“OK let’s problem solve?”( Interesting)

For successful salespeople the thrill of making a sale is stronger than the fear of rejection or failure. (Never heard it put that way, but I like the concept.)

Ron advocates the use of the “Feel-Felt-Found” technique for handling objections. This is a good technique. It’s effective, widely applicable and easy to learn. My concern is that it’s well know and I’d be cautious about using it on a professional buyer.


“Closing is simply asking for a decision when you’re pretty sure a person is going to say, “Yes”.”
(If you are not sure don’t ask! My words, but inferred here by Ron)
“Closing should be easy but it becomes harder if your sales strategy is to DO something to someone, with this the focus is on the close… sees sales as adversarial.”

The author recommends three types of closes:

  • assumptive,
  • either-or,
  • simply ask.

How to Maximise Your Earnings from, “Integrity Selling”

In general, three ways you can maximise your earnings: 

  • Sell a product or service that you’re sold on. 
  • Associate with people who are earning what you want to earn
  • Set sales and motivational goals and reward yourself when you reach a goal. 

Specifically, to get the most out of this excellent book (my words) Ron suggests that you Use The Action Guides. Write them on an index card and carry them with you all the time. Focus on one guide each week and keep cycling through them.

Final Comments

“Integrity Selling “ is a good book on selling.
It would be a worthwhile addition to your sales library.
Read it, apply the “Action Guides” and your sales will improve.
I do not personally recommend the approach of selling to a buyer style because I think you need to tailor your approach to an INDIVIDUAL and it IS possible to do that during a sales call.