Flip the Script by Oren Klaff

Getting People to Think Your Idea is Their Idea

Overview of the Book

Klaffʼs stories are funny. He does big deals and tells us about them with a super relaxed writing style, “Flip The Script” is an easy read.

Plainly, Klaff is a very good story teller. Strange that he does not make more mention of storytelling in his book? Maybe he’s leaving that for his next book?

People don’t like being pressured to buy.
They pull back when they feel pressured.
They don’t necessarily trust your ideas but they trust their own.
Today, products are Bought, Not Sold because buyers are more sceptical than ever.

Information is so freely available argues Klaff, that buyers are educated to the point they canʼt be sold to. 

“Flip the Script” explores a new approach to persuasion.

An approach based on a simple insight: everyone trusts their own ideas. 

Instead of pushing your idea on your buyer, guide them to discover it on their own. People naturally trust their own ideas, so if they believe it, they will get excited and basically sell themselves. 

To quote from the book …
Make people feel like the idea is coming from them and they will place more value on it, believe it more deeply, adopt it more quickly, and remember it more easily.” 

Unfortunately, the way many salespeople approach a sales is like the following.
They enthusiastically make an impressive pitch and then switch over into closing mode and this pressure causes the buyer to “push back”. 

If salespeople do not push for a sale they’ll make the pitch and then fumble, hoping something will happen.

Neither way is very successful.

The things that Oren does not write about are building rapport (he is against the finding common ground approach but you don't have build rapport that way) and understanding the customer which I believe allows you to frame what you say to get maximum impact with your prospect making them responsive.


Oren’s book is about how to implant your idea in the mind of the buyer so they think it’s their own.

Implanting an idea in someone else’s mind is called “Inception” there was a movie titled “Inception” some years ago staring Leonardo DiCaprio in which an industrial spy planted ideas in the mind of people in order to get them to divulge company secrets.

The steps to Inception covered in the book are listed below:

1. Status Alignment

Status alignment. ... get the other person to take you seriously.
So that they pay full attention.

We tend to pay more attention to those people we consider to be of similar social status to ourselves.
You create that impression by giving them a “Status Tip-Off” that you're on the same level as them.
A status tip off is brief story or phrase that would only be known by people who know the industry well.

You do that by showing them that you understand the industry they work in, which will make them feel like you know whatʼs going on. Then, talk about how your company helped another client with a similar problem or issue, and show that you’ve done your research by talking about the pros and cons of moving to the state sheʼs considering. 

Remember how I mentioned that I always spoke to smaller prospects when introducing a new product so that by the time I got to bigger accounts I sounded knowledgable. i.e. in Oren’s words I had Status Alignment

A status tip-off is where you tip-off your expertise or status to the receiver of your message.

The best way to find a Status Tip-Off is to interview three people who are the same level as the person you are trying to influence. 

What would they say to each other, to catch up on each otherʼs business, peer-to-peer? 

Three key elements that make up a successful Tip- Off: 

  • Use Specific Industry Lingo
  • Describe a Recent Action You Have Taken 
  • Mention a Real Situation Everyone in the Industry Cares About 

Get this right and they feel like it’s the right time and they are talking to the right person in the right place.

But then, Oren states that having Rapport (which I have written about before) and status alignment is not enough.

2. Instill Certainty in the Prospect

Very often when a salesperson encounters a doubt in the customerʼs mind, they will attempt to fill it with information by telling the customer about satisfied clients, boasting about product features, and breaking down the price to show how much value is being offered.
However, none of that addresses whether or not this salesperson can deliver what they are promising. 

To do that you need to install in the buyers, with absolute certainty, that you are an expert in your field and that things will happen exactly as you say they will. 

A good way to do this is to use a “Flash Roll”.
Whereas status alignment was about bringing you closer to your prospect the flash roll is about distancing you from your audience by demonstrating your expertise in one specific field.

When a buyer says, “I need to think about it,” at the end of a presentation it means they donʼt have enough certainty and confidence to move forward. 

 A good "Flash Roll" ... references a problem, assesses it, takes a point of view, proposes a solution, and outlines the  economics (how long it would take and what the results would be, or were the last time you did it). ..

It has a clear beginning, middle, and end.
And does all this in 60-90 seconds (speaking quickly)

Your objective in a Flash Roll is to make the problem seem simple, routine, or trivial—to you, itʼs something so basic, you hardly think about it becasue you’ve handled it so many times before.

You absolutely cannot be seeking validation or opinion of the buyer.
You are the expert, not them.

Donʼt say things like “I think” or “in my opinion.”
Deliver the Flash Roll quickly and without emotion so that it becomes second nature for you. You can script this portion of the deal and practice it until youʼre comfortable with saying it out loud. 

To end the Flash Roll, you can just shrug and say something like, ...
“Anyway, based on what Iʼm seeing here... you should... "

3. Explain Your Big Idea

If your brain doesn’t have receptors for information, the information is meaningless. 

Your brain has three areas of particular importance that it pays attention too: threats, rewards, and fairness. 

The reward has to be more enticing than the status quo and worth changing for. 

Fairness often relates to a fair deal. No one likes to be taken advantage of, and we are very sensitive to integrity, equality, and fairness. 

This gives rise to 3 Questions in the Buyers Mind

  • Why do I care?
  • What's in it for Me?
  • Why You ?

The faster you answer these questions, in an easy way for them to understand, the closer you are to a deal.

Oren suggests a good way to achieve this is to use a sequence of some pre-wired ideas which already exist in the prospect's mind:

  • Winter is coming
  • 2X
  • Skin in the Game

Show your client how much their world is changing and tell them they are in danger of being left behind. 

People donʼt want to spend money on things that are only slightly better than what they already have. However, when a new product offers double the benefits then buyers get  interested. 

“Skin in the game” means you need to show how you are financially, physically, or contractually committed to this opportunity. 

4. Make the Buyer Feel Safe 

The idea is to make the buyer feel safe enough to explore a new idea and move forward.

Have you ever watched a small animal (like a squirrel) approaching something new that might be food?
They move closer and closer up to a certain point and then scurry away.
Then they approach again getting a little close before once again scarring away.
This is the battle between curiosity and anxiety about the unknown.

While it’s true that a revolutionary new product is initially attractive to a prospect if it’s very different they’ll react like a small animal and run away.

You need to find their risk/reward sweet spot and show them how your offer is the new normal, a plain vanilla concept with only one key and valuable difference. Something easy to understand and accept without being too risky or different from what they already know. Oren calls this “Value Chunking”.

Remember, there are over 1,000 flavours of ice cream in the world and yet people still go for vanilla most of the time. We also see this when people are offered 3 buying options and the vast majority go for the middle level option.

And, the more important a decision is, the more likely it is to be made based on conservative criteria. 

To reiterate, you tell the buyer that your offer is just like every other in your industry, except for one key aspect thatʼs totally new. Then you show the buyer that whatʼs normal is shifting, and the one key, different thing is really popular today. There is a new normal. And how itʼs the same thing nearly everyone is doing.

Remember, No matter what youʼre selling, your product or idea can always be traced back to something familiar. 

5. Leverage Their Natural Pessimism

Oren suggests itʼs pessimism, not optimism, that is the formula for success in sales. 

He writes about the typical sales sequence.

  • Introduce the product and explain the offer
  • Be optimistic & encourage the buyer to feel good about the offer
  • Try to close … “do we have a deal today?”
  • Buyer raises concerns and objections
  • Work hard to crush each objection … all of his dream will come true
  • Try to close again and again

Oren writes this is closer to debate and argumentation than it is to persuasion.

Even if the buyer relents and says “Yes” its likely they have just run out of time and energy to continue debating and just wanted to end the conversation. But, they may not have any intention to proceed. This is why deals often fall apart later.

Oren contends this dilemma is brought about by the enthusiasm of the seller which disrupts the buyers patterns and threatens their sense of autonomy.

What pessimism actually does is provide an alternative point of view, and itʼs one the buyer has to consider before making a purchase decision that sticks and doesn’t result in buyerʼs remorse. 

Give a buyer permission to start questioning you and your deal, but first teach them exactly what to question about it. 

Pessimism + Autonomy + Expertise = Inception 

Before you actually turn the power of the decision over to your buyer there’s one final step you need to contain their pessimism within a set of predefined boundaries, an Invisible fence, that Oren calls the “Buyer’s Formula”.

This buyer’s formula actually blocks off certain options in their mind.
So, although it seems like they have full autonomy you still have some control.

It goes something like this…say something like, …
“I deal with this kind of thing all the time. Let me try and help.” 

Then you 

  • Outline Obvious Ways to Fail and Highlight Counterintuitive Ways to Fail. 
  • List Obvious Actions 
  • Then move into the less obvious tips and insights, or the “hacks” (these are the things you would only figure out by doing it at least 100 times). 
  • Then hand over autonomy with a shrug and a line that detaches you from the outcome, like,

“Yeah, well, thatʼs just what Iʼd do it , having done it at least a hundred times already. "

From time to time the buyer will venture outside the boundaries you have set and ask about something that you already said was a rookie mistake in your Buyerʼs Formula. 

The better you get at delivering the formula the less often you’ll have to field these types of questions.

But if they do come up:

  • Hear the buyer out
  • Redirect them to stay within the boundaries you previously set.

You might say ...

“yeah, people are always worried about that issue but in the end it’s never really an issue at all. there’s about 25 things you could focus on in buying X but there’s really only 5 that can hurt you. If you get distracted with the other 20 you’ll waste time and money and end up with the wrong thing”

Once you've shown your buyer five or six things that can easily go wrong in his decision (starting with the obvious and moving to the less obvious), itʼs time to shift into the positive actions he can take, so he feels heʼs in control and is making informed choices. 

If the buyer does not want to follow the expert opinion (i.e. yours) they will probably be a poor customer anyway,. So, walk away.

Final Caveat - Being Compelling

People are more likely to buy from you if they believe in your product.
They donʼt want to feel like theyʼre being manipulated, so be yourself and let people know that you really believe in what youʼre selling. 

Many salespeople go through different personalities during a sale.
From the “best friend” (looking for common ground), to the huckster (making exaggerated claims) to the wolf closing in on it’s prey (closing and countering objections). These behavioural change can put off prospects.

Better not to change who you are, how you behave or your values in the process of selling. You are the expert, stick to your guns, stay consistent to your personality, your character and your values … this makes you compelling.


I have read some criticisms of Oren’s system

Some contend that Pitches Arenʼt That Important.
And I must admit that many of the B2B sales I was involved in came about after asking a lot of questions rather than making pitches. (more of a SPIN Selling approach)

I have also read a comment about Due Diligence.
It was said that surely in big deals due diligence can take months.
And I personally can’t imagine a medium to large size company just deciding on the spot to shift suppliers or even worse change their production system. Certainly in my days there were often lab trials to be done followed by factory trials to assess viability and economics before a material could be approved? 

Still another commenter suggested that Flash Rolls have limited value .
Contending that Flash rolls only work when you have an uneducated buyer. And I can see some validity in that comment.

Still, overall, I believe reading (or listening to this book) would be valuable to most salespeople. The ideas are interesting and have some validity. And, anything that improves your flexibility as a salesperson is a good thing.