Design Thinking In Your Sales Strategy

If you are into the business management world, you’ve probably heard about the concept of “Design Thinking”. This methodology consists of understanding the person’s needs, in order to create the best process to reach the solution.

According to Arne van Oosterom, Founder and Senior Facilitator of DesignThinkers Academy , “It allows you to first find the right question and then fit the process to it. Design thinking gives you the freedom and tools to question everything and break away from constrictions, biases and blind spots.”

However, not everyone is aware of the benefits Design Thinking can bring to B2B and B2C strategies. One of the experts in this topic is Ashley Welch from Somersault Innovation, whose sales grew disruptively by approaching her customers following the basis of Design Thinking. From her experience, we defined these simple five steps for improving any sales strategy:

Step 1. Become a “detective”

One of the main lessons of Design Thinking is asking the “why” of everything and not taking anything for granted. For achieving this, you need to understand your customers in the deepest way possible and find a proper answer to the question: “Why do they need your service/product?”.

This may seem an easy and old-fashioned question, but it all depends on how further you are analysing the customer and how many factors you are using to find the answer. That’s why we need to become a “detective”. Once we understand their routines, body language, their way of working, their perspective, how they behave as a seller and as a customer, etc., then we will have a real proper answer.

Step 2. Be an Active Listener

When selling a product, we may make a common mistake, which is having an answer ready in our mind, even before the customer replies. This is because, as sellers, we are used to being focused on our product. However, the center of our attention should not be the product, but the customer. For this reason, it is very important to develop the ability of Active Listening, that is, hearing and understanding what people are really saying.

Improving our Active Listening skills is as easy as developing some simple habits, such as showing that you are listening by nodding, sharing your opinions respectfully and avoiding judgments and interruptions.

Step 3. Consider many different ideas

Another common mistake is using the same approach for different situations, just because it led to a desirable outcome in the past. Every person is different, then each customer will have different needs and different problems.

The best way of accomplishing this goal is having as many different opinions as possible and avoid any kind of judgement towards other ideas. You will reach a better outcome having five people working on it for one day, than having one person working five days.

Once you have all the ideas, try to complement some of them, instead of rejecting all ideas except for one. This process may take time and you may need to repeat it with different ideas. But once you reach the final decision, you will be sure that it is the best solution.

Step 4. Show your Value Proposition

It is time to meet with the customer and present your result. In the presentation, find a way to show them the deep research you did in Step 1. Make them see both your data-based and ethnographical findings. Doing this, you will make the difference.

Another tip to keep in mind, is letting them know that Design thinking is not only about covering customers’ needs, but also giving value to their businesses. That is why we should sell the solution as a Value Proposition. Presenting it from this perspective is one of the key factors for success.

Step 5. Be empathetic

Design Thinking is about understanding others’ needs, so that we always need to take into account their way of thinking and their emotions. Be curious about them. Only by doing this, we will reach an effective outcome.

Consider this as an advice and a reminder, more than a final step. Empathy must be present in all the process. As Arne van Oosterom said, “Design thinking is an essential mindset to build empathy with users, really listen and walk in their shoes.”


There are many cases of companies whose sales have grown after changing to a Design Thinking mindset, such as Tesla or Uber. But the results are always better when these steps are followed in every aspect of the organization, such as Operations and Human Resources. The key is always understanding others, being open-minded, having a willingness to learn and avoid negative criticism.

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