Steve Martin

Author of Heavy Hitting Sales Psychology, Advanced Sales Skills

Steve W. Martin is the foremost expert on “Sales Linguistics,” the study of how customers use language during the complex decision-making process. Steve began his career programming computers as a teenager in the late ’70s. Through working with computers, he became acutely aware of the preciseness and structure of language. In addition, programming is built upon models--verbal descriptions and visual representations of how systems work and processes flow. Models enable repeatable and predictable experiences.

Early in his career, he was also introduced to the concepts of neurolinguistics (the science of how the human brain constructs and interprets language). When he transitioned his career into sales, he realized that he could build models to create successful relationships based upon customers’ language and thought processes. Without any sales experience to speak of, he was the number one salesperson in his company for the following four years.

Steve went on to be a top sales producer for a billion-dollar software company and was promoted into management to imprint his “selling model” on other salespeople within the organization. As vice president of sales later, Steve successfully trained his salespeople on the sales strategies and communication skills that are necessary to close large complex accounts.

He is the author of critically acclaimed “Heavy Hitter” series of books about enterprise sales strategies for senior salespeople. His newest book is extensive win-loss analysis research and titled Heavy Hitter I.T. Sales Strategy: Competitive Insights from Interviews with 1,000+ Key I.T. Decision Makers and Top Technology Salespeople (release date November 2014). Heavy Hitter Sales Linguistics: 101 Advanced Sales Call Strategies for Senior Salespeople (2011) is the most comprehensive book about “sales linguistics,” the revolutionary new field of study about how customers and salespeople use and interpret language during the decision making process.

Heavy Hitter Sales Psychology: How to Penetrate the C-Level Suite and Persuade Company Leaders to Buy (2009) is the first book to truly explain what to say and do in meetings with C-Level executives. The book is based upon extensive interviews with over 500 C-level executives. Heavy Hitter Sales Wisdom: Proven Sales Warfare Strategies, Secrets of Persuasion, and Common-Sense Tips for Success (2006) is considered mandatory reading by Selling Power Magazine and Customer Relationship Magazine. Heavy Hitter Selling: How Successful Salespeople Use Language and Intuition to Persuade Customers to Buy (2004)is recommended reading by the Harvard Business School and has been featured in Forbes and the Wall Street Journal.

Steve is also the author of The Real Story of Informix Software and Phil White: Lessons in Business and Leadership for the Executive Team (2005). Based upon the six years he worked at Informix, the book is a Silicon Valley sales, marketing, and executive leadership case study. It chronicles the meteoric rise of Informix Software, how it became a technology giant, and the scandal that ultimately led to its spectacular fall.

A highly sought-after sales trainer and keynote speaker, Steve is both entertaining and  enlightening. He has had the privilege of helping more than 150,000 salespeople become top revenue producers at companies including IBM, NEC, McAfee, Akamai, BEA Systems, Acxiom, Convergys, DHL, Standard Register, and Allstate Insurance.

Steve is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review, Sales and Marketing Management, and the Software Sales Journal. His “Heavy Hitter Sales Blog” is the top-ranked business-to-business sales blog and one of the most popular sales blogs according to Alltop.com and Blogs.com.

Today, Steve is a lifetime student of the human nature of customer behavior. When not working with his clients, he teaches sales strategy at the University of Southern California Marshall Business School MBA Program. In 2012 he was awarded the USC Marshall Golden Apple Teaching Award presented to the professor who has had the greatest impact on their students as voted by the members of the graduating class.   He previously taught at the University of California Berkeley, Haas Business School MBA Program.

To book Steve Martin call Executive Speakers Bureau at 901-754-9404.

See Below for Full Bio

  • Speaking Topics:

    Communications, Customer Service, Sales

  • Travels From:

    California

  • Price:

    $7,500 - $10,000

    Notes on Fees

  • Videos
  • Full Bio
  • Speech Topics
  • Books
  • Testimonials
  • News

What is Sales Linguistics by Steve W. Martin

Steve W. Martin is the foremost expert on “Sales Linguistics,” the study of how customers use language during the complex decision-making process. Steve began his career programming computers as a teenager in the late ’70s. Through working with computers, he became acutely aware of the preciseness and structure of language. In addition, programming is built upon models--verbal descriptions and visual representations of how systems work and processes flow. Models enable repeatable and predictable experiences.

Early in his career, he was also introduced to the concepts of neurolinguistics (the science of how the human brain constructs and interprets language). When he transitioned his career into sales, he realized that he could build models to create successful relationships based upon customers’ language and thought processes. Without any sales experience to speak of, he was the number one salesperson in his company for the following four years.

Steve went on to be a top sales producer for a billion-dollar software company and was promoted into management to imprint his “selling model” on other salespeople within the organization. As vice president of sales later, Steve successfully trained his salespeople on the sales strategies and communication skills that are necessary to close large complex accounts.

He is the author of critically acclaimed “Heavy Hitter” series of books about enterprise sales strategies for senior salespeople. His newest book is extensive win-loss analysis research and titled Heavy Hitter I.T. Sales Strategy: Competitive Insights from Interviews with 1,000+ Key I.T. Decision Makers and Top Technology Salespeople (release date November 2014). Heavy Hitter Sales Linguistics: 101 Advanced Sales Call Strategies for Senior Salespeople (2011) is the most comprehensive book about “sales linguistics,” the revolutionary new field of study about how customers and salespeople use and interpret language during the decision making process.

Heavy Hitter Sales Psychology: How to Penetrate the C-Level Suite and Persuade Company Leaders to Buy (2009) is the first book to truly explain what to say and do in meetings with C-Level executives. The book is based upon extensive interviews with over 500 C-level executives. Heavy Hitter Sales Wisdom: Proven Sales Warfare Strategies, Secrets of Persuasion, and Common-Sense Tips for Success (2006) is considered mandatory reading by Selling Power Magazine and Customer Relationship Magazine. Heavy Hitter Selling: How Successful Salespeople Use Language and Intuition to Persuade Customers to Buy (2004)is recommended reading by the Harvard Business School and has been featured in Forbes and the Wall Street Journal.

Steve is also the author of The Real Story of Informix Software and Phil White: Lessons in Business and Leadership for the Executive Team (2005). Based upon the six years he worked at Informix, the book is a Silicon Valley sales, marketing, and executive leadership case study. It chronicles the meteoric rise of Informix Software, how it became a technology giant, and the scandal that ultimately led to its spectacular fall.

A highly sought-after sales trainer and keynote speaker, Steve is both entertaining and  enlightening. He has had the privilege of helping more than 150,000 salespeople become top revenue producers at companies including IBM, NEC, McAfee, Akamai, BEA Systems, Acxiom, Convergys, DHL, Standard Register, and Allstate Insurance.

Steve is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review, Sales and Marketing Management, and the Software Sales Journal. His “Heavy Hitter Sales Blog” is the top-ranked business-to-business sales blog and one of the most popular sales blogs according to Alltop.com and Blogs.com.

Today, Steve is a lifetime student of the human nature of customer behavior. When not working with his clients, he teaches sales strategy at the University of Southern California Marshall Business School MBA Program. In 2012 he was awarded the USC Marshall Golden Apple Teaching Award presented to the professor who has had the greatest impact on their students as voted by the members of the graduating class.   He previously taught at the University of California Berkeley, Haas Business School MBA Program.

To book Steve Martin call Executive Speakers Bureau at 901-754-9404.

Selling to the C-Suite: C-Level Sales Strategies for Senior Salespeople                              

Every salesperson claims their product will help the customer save money, become more profitable, or improve efficiency. As a result, these claims are seldom believed and very rarely acted upon by senior executives. Today, it takes a comprehensive strategy to winover the CEO, COO, CFO, and CIO. A strategy that enables a salesperson to differentiate himself from the competitors through value- Strategic value, Operational value, Political value, and Psychological value. In this workshop, we review the following:    

  • The Grand Strategy to Winover the C-Level
  • The Four Different Types of Departmental Buying Types (Consolidators, Consulters, Responders, and Bureaucrats)
  • Penetrating the Organization at Various Levels of Responsibility
  • Navigating to the C-Level: Identifying the Bully with Juice
  • Maneuvers and Tactics to Defeat Arch-enemies
  • Flanking Strategies When You're Stuck at the Wrong Level
  • The Human Nature of the C-Level: A Personal and Psychological Profile
  • Selling the Four Values of Your Solution: Strategic, Operational, Political, and Psychological
  • Presenting Your Solution: Using Logical Arguments, Emotional Appeal, and your Character
  • Organizing the Presentation to the C-Level: How to Gain Credibility, Overcome Objections, and Consensus
  • Connecting with The C-Level through Sales Linguistics(Using the Right Words at the Right Time to Persuade the C-Level to Buy) 

Advanced Sales Call Strategy for Senior Salespeople

The salesperson's most important competitive weapon is his mouth, and the winner is the salesperson who uses words that reduce the customer's doubt, eases his fear, and fosters his fantasy. That's why it is critical that salespeople master sales linguistics, the study of how the customer's mind uses and interprets language. Customer inertia, the drive to "do nothing," far outweigh the logical reasons you espouse for buying your product. You can recite a litany of reasons and a laundry list of benefits, and the customer still won't buy. This session  will equip salespeople with linguistic strategies to differentiate their solution from the competition and enable them to create a call to action that convinces the customer mentally and emotionally to buy. All competent salespeople can recite their products' features and specifications. Great salespeople build winning customer relationships based upon establishing rapport. In this session we review how to speak the customer's language and understand individual needs in order to execute winning sales calls.

  • Sales Linguistics: Recognizing How Customer are Neurolinguistically "Wired"
  • Speaking the Seven Different Sales Call Languages
  • Sales Call Planning, Structure, and Communication Themes
  • Sales Call Execution: Persuasive Sales and Calls Presentations
  • Communicating Strategic, Operational, Political, and Psychological Value
  • The Persuasive Elevator Pitch: Its Linguistics Structure and Compelling Delivery
  • Messaging to the Customer's Mind via Letters, Emails, Phone Calls
  • Understanding and Anticipating Your Customers' Thought Process
  • Mastering Account Qualification during Face-to-Face Meetings
  • Objection Handling using Offensive and Defensive Call Statements
  • Customer Sales Call Coping Mechanisms
  • Psycholinguistic Differentiation Techniques
  • Group Presentation Strategies and Tactics
  • Closing Strategies and  Advanced Linguistic Tactics
  • Sales Call Segmentation using Sales Linguistics
  • Personal Persuasion and Establishing Dominance

The Psychology of Selling                              

Why aren't we selling more? Everyone's got an opinion. Some may say the economy, the marketplace or lack of functionality. Others will say it's the competition. Perhaps, it's actually the customers. For a moment, put yourself in the position of your customer who is going to meet with multiple vendors, listen to their presentations, read their marketing collateral, and take a look at their web site. Given that, how will you behave with each vendor? Most companies are well versed on the logical arguments for selecting their product and we typically equate persuasion solely with satisfying the analytical mind. However, even the most well-thought-out decision is ultimately determined by emotional and subconscious influences. This presentation reveals the true decision maker --human nature-- the people, personalities, and politics of companies.

  • Sales Psychology Review
  • Rapport and Relationships Fundamentals
  • Understanding How People Communicate
  • Recognizing How Your Customer is "Wired" to Communicate
  • Mastering Sales Linguistics (how the customer's mind uses and interprets language)
  • Conducting Sales and Calls Presentations
  • Messaging to the Customer's Mind (letters, emails, phone calls)
  • Product, Fantasy, and Politics Themes
  • Customer Fantasies and Political Realities
  • Understanding and Anticipating Your Customers' Thought Process
  • Strategies to Uncover all the Information and Discern the Truth
  • Maximizing Your Sales Intuition 

"Tales From the Field" Top Salesperson Panel"

Enterprise Sales Strategy and Organizational Sales Psychology  

The grand strategy to win the complex sale is based upon influencing the people, selection process, and politics of customer decision making. In enterprise accounts, salespeople must penetrate large organizations, influence key decision makers, and dovetail their products' benefits to customers' internal politics. In order to win, they must build relationships with buyers in different departments all across a company. They have to persuade people to believe in their solution at all levels of the organization and compete against competitors with similar products and equal sales acumen. The winning sales strategy is a psychological operation that is built on understanding, predicting, and influencing human nature. The victor understands how the account is organized and anticipates how the key decision makers will make their buying decision.  Moreover, the winner employs a linguistic strategy that enables his message to rise above all others, a tactical plan of execution, and impactful recommendations that compel decision makers to take action. Topics covered include:

  • Formulating the Grand Strategy to Win the Complex Sale
  • Political Account Structure and  the Psychology of Organizational Buying
  • Tactics to Defeat the Competition
  • Winning Over Key Decision Makers at all Levels of the Company
  • Understanding the Political Structure of the Account
  • Determining Departmental Buying Types
  • Translating the Grand Strategy to Tactics
  • Assessing Account Position
  • Account Maneuvers to Improve Competitive Position
  • Win-Loss Analysis The Seven Premises of the Complex Sales Cycle
  • Survival, Successful, and Significant Customers
  • Categories of Buyers
  • Should We Pursue the Deal?
  • Bonding with the Bully with the Juice
  • Strategies to Find and develop a Coach

Sales Warfare Strategies: The Application of Military Strategy to Sales                           

All salespeople must be generals who create a strategy to win their wars long before the first battle begins. The successful military leader painstakingly plans how and where he will attack in accordance with the troops and weapons at his disposal. When the fighting starts, the victorious commander achieves his objective through battlefield maneuvers to gain the advantage and countertactics to neutralize his enemy's advance. In this presentation, military strategy and its application to penetrate complex organizations and defeat entrenched competitors is discussed. Salespeople learn how to influence key decision-makers and tactics for building winning relationships at all levels of the organization along with real-world techniques to defeat competitors (and stop wasting precious time). Topics include:

  • Military Strategy and Tactical Application For Underdogs to Defeat Gorillas
  • The Seven Principles of War and Sales
  • Should We Pursue the Deal?
  • Understanding the Organizational and political Structure of the Account
  • Determining Departmental Buying Types
  • Examples of Military Battles and their Application to Sales
  • Formulating the Grand Strategy to Win the Account
  • Translating the Grand Strategy to Tactics
  • Assessing Account Position
  • Battlefield Maneuvers to Improve Competitive Position
  • Marshalling and Commanding your Army of Resources
  • The Five Steps to Ensure Victory
  • Win-Loss Analysis


Mastering the Power of Persuasion

In this session, we review the deeper meaning of language. Persuasion is the process of building a personal relationship and mutual trust with customers by speaking in the spectrum of languages they use both logically and emotionally, consciously and subconsciously. We examine the layers of the human communication model and the interactions between the layers that enable a person to discern a message's accuracy and truthfulness. We study the inner-workings of the mind to understand the intangible, intuitive human element of the sales process. We analyze how to create rapport with the key members of the customer's selection team. Topics covered include:

  • Intensive Sales Linguistics Review and Exercises
  • Understanding the Deeper Meaning of Language
  • Structuring the Persuasive Corporate Presentation
  • Advanced Rapport Techniques
  • Group Presentation Tactics
  • The Seven Different Sales Call Languages
  • Constructing Metaphors for Winning Over Customers
  • How to Winover the Subconscious Decision Maker

Tales From The Field: Interview Session with Your Top Salespeople  

"Tales from the Field" is similar to a roundtable talk show where top salespeople are interviewed about their major wins and losses. However, this session goes far beyond discussing sales strategies and tactics. The psychological and intuitive aspects of selling are translated into common themes and models the entire sales organization can understand and emulate. The sharing of this "collective intuition" stops salespeople from chasing bad deals, helps create a more predictable forecast, and gives each participant (from novice to expert) tactics they can use immediately.

Customer Win/Loss Study and Results Presentation

The complex nature of the enterprise sales process requires huge investments of resources (manpower, time, and money) in order to win new accounts. Therefore, it is critical that deals are managed effectively. True win-loss analysis that is based upon extensive customer interviewing is the best way to understand the political, organizational, and technical aspects of prospective customers' decision-making process. This valuable information is presented at your sales meeting along with recommendations to improve new win competitiveness. The price for the win/loss study will vary based upon the scope of research and number of customer interviews.

Tales From The Field: Interview Session with Your Top Salespeople  

Tales from the Field" is similar to a roundtable talk show where top salespeople are interviewed about their major wins and losses. However, this session goes far beyond discussing sales strategies and tactics. The psychological and intuitive aspects of selling are translated into common themes and models the entire sales organization can understand and emulate. The sharing of this "collective intuition" stops salespeople from chasing bad deals, helps create a more predictable forecast, and gives each participant (from novice to expert) tactics they can use immediately.  Steve Martin has interviewed more than 1,000 top business to business salespeople and has written extensively about their strategies, selling styles, and personality profiles.

AT&T

“Steve Martin’s deep knowledge of the enterprise sales process combined with his insights about the politics and personalities of customer decision making has made a profound and instantaneous impact on our organization. Based upon his recommendations, we completely changed our strategy and tactics to engage prospective enterprise customers and manage the sales process resulting in greater sales success.”

Standard Register Industrial

“Steve Martin’s win-loss study process was deliberate and controlled, and he provided a level of credibility and confidentiality that enabled us to have a very high response rate from prospective customers. Steve’s study taught us why we really win or lose with specific types of customers, and has enabled us to dramatically improve our sales process. We are putting the information we received from this study to great use. We were in the process of upgrading our sales training curriculum, and this analysis gave us excellent direction. We are able to target specific marketing and sales messages to specific contacts within our customer base, ensuring that we’re effectively targeting their highest priority needs. We are also using the information to assist in the development or modification of product and service offerings, as we now have better insight into the areas of interest of our customers. I highly recommend Steve’s study as a source of sales force development and marketing information.”

Document Sciences

“We thought we knew why our own prospects bought or didn’t. This research and analysis provided insight that we never imagined. It gave us a conceptual framework of customer selection process behavior to predictably scale.”
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