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Selling Is Not About Closing (It’s About Value)

Guest: Steve Heroux, Founder and CEO of Victory Selling and author of Sales Is NOT a Dirty Word

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About This Episode

Wouldn’t it be great if your prospects asked you what the next steps were?

That’s not only within the realm of possibility, it’s what happens when you stop needing to be liked.

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Steve Heroux, Founder and CEO of Victory Selling and author of Sales Is NOT a Dirty Word.

Steve started his sales career at Cutco Knives (against his parents’ advice) for pizza and beer money in college. 

“I ignored the script, went to the store, bought food, brought food to people’s houses, and we cut up the food with the knives,” Steve said. “That was my pitch. I didn’t know any better.”

In his first 3 weeks, he became the top seller in New England. By his senior year, he was #1 in the country with Cutco.

At his next company, Aflac, he became #1 in the country there, too.

“Success in sales was great, but I learned that what was helping me really become more beneficial for the world of sales was teaching other people how to be successful,” he said.

Here’s what he learned:

1. Integrity sells

At Victory Selling, Steve trains and coaches salespeople how to be successful with honesty.

(We’re all familiar with the stigmas that surround salespeople… dishonest… greedy… needy…)

“We want to teach people that you can be honest, you can be classy, you can be caring and be really successful in selling,” Steve said.

People can smell it if you aren’t real. They hate the smoke and mirrors. 

And yeah, we’re calling out Grant Cardone on this one.

It’s just sad to think that he’s what people’s impressions are of sales. “That’s really what we’re trying to change,” Steve said.

He talked a bit about his Sales DNA Test. It will show even the most elite salesperson what their hidden challenges are.

“We want to show people there’s so much more we don’t know about ourselves and how much better we can get,” Steve said.

It starts with understanding the individual differences that hinder our sales approaches. 

Could be dishonesty. 

Could be greed. 

Could be… the need to be liked.

2. The need to be liked kills your sales

So, we’ve all been taught that people buy from people they like and trust, right?


“People buy when you provide value,” Steve said.

The need to be liked by our prospects ruins our selling because it keeps us from providing value when we could be receiving “likes” instead.

“If you have this overwhelming need to be liked, you won’t say what needs to be said to move that deal forward because you’re afraid of pissing them off,” Steve explained.

That’s it.

If our sales approach is driven by the need to be liked — not the desire to provide value — then that affects everything we say.


A corollary of needing to be liked is not standing up to people. Which is terrible for sales.

People who are powerful (meaning, our highest-level prospects) respect those who stand up to them.

In Steve’s experience, respect often precedes esteem… and can grow into a very strong bond.

Just to clarify, wanting to be liked is fine. All of us want to be liked.

But when we need to be liked more than we want to put our value out there, that’s when we lose.

Steve called it “desperation mode” and “commission-breath.”

Nobody wants to buy from that.

“Bring value to people. Some people will like it, and some won’t. Who cares? That’s what the top six percenters understand,” Steve said.

3. Selling is not about closing

Not everybody watches baseball, but most of us know what a closer is.

Mariano Rivera (the best closer in history) can only come into the game if you’re up 4 to 3.

There’s nothing he can do if you’re down 11 to 2.

“If the first 8 innings of your sales presentation are garbage, your closing doesn’t matter,” Steve said.

Closing is only about 3% of the sale as a whole. If you do the first 97% right, the last steps are easy.

If he could teach just one thing, Steve would tell reps how to get your prospects to ask you how to move forward. 

What’s the next step? 

When do we start?

“When your prospects start asking you, ‘how do I buy from you?’, that’s when you know you did a good job,” Steve said.

“We have to spend all our time getting good at the entire process so that the end is just, ‘Yeah, let’s get started,’” he added.

Steve’s 3 takeaways

I love asking my guests what they want listeners to remember. Steve’s answers are gold.

  1. Be who you are. Be honest, have integrity, act with humility, and do a great job providing value for people.
  2. Commit to mastery. Professional physicians spend 25,000 hours to get there. Take this extra time to learn and become masterful at what you do.
  3. Let your ego go. We can all admit we’re not the greatest.
    3b.  Record yourself practicing your pitch and watch it back. If athletes can do it and get paid 9 figures, you can do it, too.

Look, you can’t show up at game time and perform if you haven’t done your work in the off season. 

Steve’s takeaways can be summed up this way: “Start treating this like a real business, like somebody that really does want to make $5 million a year,” he said.

For more engaging sales conversations, subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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