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The Wedge Flight Plan:

A Quick Review

At the beginning of this book, I said that selling is a lot

like flying, because nothing else matters unless you

land safely. In that sense, you can think of The Wedge as a

flight plan. It provides a checklist of things that you can do

before, during, and after each flight to make sure that you

set your wheels on the runway safely, that you get paid, and

that you remain ready for the next flight.

Using Red Hot Introductions, you can leverage your

top clients for personal introductions to your most desirable

prospects instead of just picking the lowest-hanging

fruit on the tree. Then, using the Wedge precall research

strategy, you can create the powerful differentiation you

need to gain altitude and give your prospect a reason to

buy from you. You can take your prospect through the six

steps of The Wedge Sales Call, putting yourself in a position

to win. As you approach the runway toward the end of

your flight, you will have fended off your competition, ensuring

that you touch down safely and win the business. Finally,

back on the ground, you can keep your new client

happy, and remain flight-ready for other missions, by using

the written proactive customer services time line to make

your client’s future more predictable. In your debriefing,

you can celebrate having done it again. You got your competition

fired—without saying anything bad about them.

Before we conclude, let’s review the strategy and tactics

of The Wedge one last time in light of what they mean

to your own sales career. As a salesperson myself, I understand

that the important work you do is sometimes not fully appreciated. Salespeople make economic progress

possible, and yet the sales profession is sometimes the target

of unwarranted criticism based on inaccurate stereotypes.

To be sure, every profession has its bad apples. The

truth is that selling is an honorable way to make a living

with enormous value to society. If this book helps you

achieve your financial and personal goals sooner than you

otherwise would have, and if it helps to increase the good

that you accomplish by bringing truly proactive service to

more clients, that will be my reward for having written it.

So let’s review.

The Strategy to Win

As we discussed, most major selling opportunities involve

three parties—the seller, the buyer, and the seller’s competition—

a fact overlooked by traditional selling that keeps

many salespeople from winning more new business.

The Wedge enables you to accomplish two things that

traditional selling does not. First, it gives you a strategy for

busting the relationship between your prospect and your

competition. Second, it gives you a way to powerfully differentiate

yourself so that your prospect will be motivated

to do business with you, without your having to criticize

your competition or directly promote yourself. Using The

Wedge, you can get your competition fired, winning more

new business with greater predictability.

Your prospects’ “pain” regarding their current service

is the force you will use to drive a “wedge” between them

and your competitors. As mentioned in Chapter 1, about 65 to 70 percent of human motivation is pain avoidance,

while only 30 to 35 percent is pleasure seeking.

Many companies today compete on price, product,

and reactive service. Your greatest competitive advantage

can be found in your proactive service. Proactive service

consists of the day-to-day, concrete things you do that enable

you to proactively control your clients’ experiences

and make their future more predictable. Your precall research

should match your proactive service strengths

against your competition’s proactive service weaknesses.

There are three ways you can have a competitive advantage

in services. First, you can do something unique.

Second, you can do what others do, but using a better

process that gets better results. Third, you can so compellingly

differentiate what you do that your prospects prefer

to do business with you.

You should use the ladder of abstraction to describe

how your service is provided, using specific, concrete words

that create a visual image in the mind of your prospect.

Avoid generalities and abstractions.

The Tactics That Work

The Wedge Sales Call is a six-step conversation that you can

use to take your prospects on a journey of self-discovery.

Unlike traditional selling, it empowers you (1) to bust the

relationship between your prospects and your competition

and (2) to bring out your prospects’ pain even though they

did not at first know where they hurt because they had lowered their service expectations. Their pain had become

latent rather than active.

To create rapport with your prospects in order to have

an open, honest dialogue, you can match and mirror them

to make them more comfortable, and you can tell a success

story concerning a client like them to establish your own

credibility. Next, to set the stage for the six steps, you will

begin asking questions to trigger your prospects’ active and

latent pain.

Step 1 is to ask a PICTURE PERFECT question that gets

your prospects to see the gap between their current service

and the ideal service they could be receiving. Closing this

painful gap is what you have to sell.

Step 2 is to TAKE AWAY the benefit you have just gotten

your prospects to imagine. You will do this by suggesting

that it may not be that important. If your prospects disagree,

then you will know that the benefit does matter.

Step 3 is to use the VISION BOX to get your clients to

describe in specific, concrete words exactly what they want

so that you can box it for them as deliverables.

Step 4 is to REPLAY those deliverables to your

prospects, confirming that you understand what they say

they want.

Step 5 is to wave a WHITE FLAG and, instead of asking

for the business, ask your prospects what they would like

you to do. Instead of proposing something to them, you

are getting them to invite you in.

Step 6 is to take your prospects through a REHEARSAL

of how they will go about firing or not hiring your competition,

so that you can get them to affirm to you that they

will take action.

If you practice the conversational format of The

Wedge Sales Call, writing PICTURE PERFECT questions and

role-playing the dialogue with someone else, you should be

able to start using and benefiting from The Wedge quickly.

Here are the segues to remember:

PICTURE PERFECT: “I’m curious. When you receive [a

specific service] so that you don’t have to worry about

[a specific pain], are you comfortable with that


TAKE AWAY: “Well, perhaps it’s not that important because

[insert a reason].”

VISION BOX: “In regard to [area of concern], what would

you like to see happen?”

REPLAY: “Here’s what I’m hearing you say you want. [repeat

what the prospect said.] Have I got that


WHITE FLAG: “So, what would you like me to do?”

REHEARSAL: “That’s the easy part. May we talk about the

hard part? . . . How will you tell your other rep that

it’s over?” . . .

“Are you comfortable with everything? So it’s done. Great.

I’ll get to work.”

As you start winning more accounts using The

Wedge, you can keep and grow them by making sure you

create and follow a written proactive services time line to

ensure that you—say it with me one last time—proactively

control your clients’ experience and make their future

more predictable.

Changing the Way Selling Is Done

Using The Wedge, many sales professionals have been able

to achieve greater personal success than before. Using The

Wedge Sales Culture, numerous companies have put their

profitable growth on a higher trajectory.

The Wedge benefits all three parties in the selling situation.

It helps prospects by giving them a process that focuses

them on their most important needs; it helps current

providers by giving them an incentive to serve their clients

more proactively; and, of course, it helps salespeople by

giving them a powerful tool to win more clients in much

less time by working smarter.

As a result, The Wedge creates healthier business

relationships for everyone concerned. Buyers more likely

get what they want, sellers more likely provide it, and

a seller’s competitors more likely try harder to please

their clients.

A Final Word

So, I’m curious. When you finished this book and went out

and won a major account by getting your competition

fired, so that you wouldn’t have to worry about falling

short of your quota, how did it go? Were you comfortable

with the process? Good. Well, perhaps it’s not that important

because traditional selling might have worked. Oh, but

you’re saying traditional selling pretty much limited you to

prospects where you didn’t have to oust a current provider?

I see what you’re saying.

Well, in regard to what you’ve learned in this book,

what would you like to see happen? I see. Here’s what I’m

hearing you say you want. You want to keep using a proven

strategy for winning top prospects away from your competitors.

Have I got that right? Good.

So, what would you like me to do? You’d like me to

convince you that you should stop selling and start winning?

I hope that’s been the easy part. May we talk about

the hard part?

Suppose you waver a little at first. Let’s say you revert

to old habits and still manage to close enough deals with

traditional selling to earn a living. May I tell you what will

happen? You’ll miss an opportunity to take your sales success

to a whole new level. Do you really want to pass up

that opportunity? Or would you rather master an approach

that will enable you to win much more new business more

quickly and more predictably? Yes, you would prefer that?

Are you comfortable with everything? So it’s done.

Great. Now go get your competition fired.


Berne, Eric. 1977. Games People Play. New York: Random


Brooks, Michael. 1990. Instant Rapport. New York: Time

Warner International.

Coram, Robert. 2002. Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed

the Art of War. New York: Little, Brown.

Hayakawa, S.I. 1989. Language in Thought and Action.

Boston: Heinle.

Pareto, Vilfredo. 1896–1897. Cours d’economie politique.

Lausanne: Universite de Lausanne.

Ringer, Robert J. 1976. Winning Through Intimidation.

New York: Random House.

Slater, Robert. 1998. Jack Welch & the G.E. Way. New York:






Aaron, Hank, 179

Apollo XIII, 174

Berne, Eric, 149

Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who

Changed the Art of War

(Coram), 180

Boy/girl theory, 102–103

Brooks, Michael, 72

Buffett, Warren, 104


as goal of selling,


not needed using The

Wedge, 64

REHEARSAL as the true

close with The Wedge,

127, 130–131

traditional, 23, 68, 81

Closing ratio, 36, 142,


CNN, 143

Competitive advantage. See

also Strengths vs.

weaknesses analysis

defined, 14–15

identifying from

information, knowledge,

and intelligence, 48–49

three ways to have, 51–55

winning difference, 42–43,


Consultative selling:

defined, 23–24

when it’s adequate,


Contact sport, selling as a,

12, 148

Coram, Robert, 180

CRISP (continuous and

rapid improvement sales

process) sales meetings,

47, 149, 171, 175

Crowley, Jim. See Notre

Dame’s Four Horsemen

Customer retention rate, 28,

69, 137

Dell computers, 48


based on day-to-day

reality, 141

branding vs., 52

lack of in insurance,


ladder of abstraction and,


one of two biggest

problems of selling,


price differentiation,


proactive service as most

powerful type of,


product differentiation,


Rules of The Wedge and,


strengths vs. weaknesses,


Wedge Flight Plan and,


Wedge Sales Culture and,


EDGAR (Electronic Data

Gathering, Analysis, and

Retrieval System), 43

80/20 Rule, 25–26, 143–145,


Eisenhower, Dwight D.,


Feature benefit selling,


Five money-making activities

of salespeople, 143–145

Five-step change formula for

a business, 155. See also

Wedge Sales Culture

Four groups of a company,

154–155. See alsoWedge

Sales Culture

Games People Play (Berne),


Gates, Bill, 104

General Electric, 172

Gorbachev, Mikhail,


Hayakawa, S.I., 56. See also

Ladder of abstraction

Higginbotham & Associates,


Hussein, Saddam,




Industrial revolution,


Instant Rapport (Brooks),


Krantz, Gene, 175

Ladder of abstraction,

56–59, 63, 94, 108, 130,

168, 196

Laden, Elmer. See Notre

Dame’s Four Horsemen

Language in Thought and

Action (Hayakawa),


Mantra for the salesperson,

15, 49, 129

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate

Dictionary, 180

Miller, Don. See Notre

Dame’s Four Horsemen

Million Dollar Producer,


National Aeronautics and

Space Administration



Newton, Sir Isaac, 32

Notre Dame’s Four

Horsemen, 154

Owen, Douglas B., 149,



active, 87

latent, 87

pain/pleasure motivation,

35, 195–196

potential, 87

Pareto, Vilfredo, 25, 143. See

also 80/20 Rule

Perot, Ross, 104


five reasons won’t always

work, 97

key phrase, 89

step in The Wedge Sales

Call, 83

Precall strategy, 39, 61, 128,


Proactive services time line,

54, 63, 159, 192,


Proactive Wedge, 93. See also

Reactive Wedge

Prospecting. See Red Hot


Raiders of the Lost Ark,


Reactive Wedge, 92. See also

Proactive Wedge



Reagan, Ronald, 112

Red Hot Introductions, 149,

161–170, 194

Reid, Rusty, 151


key phrase, 115

step in The Wedge Sales

Call, 84


key phrase, 125

step in The Wedge Sales

Call, 84

Retention rate. See Customer

retention rate

Ringer, Robert J.,


Rules of The Wedge, 81–83,


Ruth, Babe, 179

San Francisco State College,


Securities and Exchange

Commission, 43

SODAR (situation,

opportunity, decision,

action, results), 168–170

Speed, as metaphor,


Strengths vs. weaknesses

analysis, 50–51. See also

Competitive advantage

Stuhldreher, Harry. See

Notre Dame’s Four


Summit Global Partners,

149–151, 186


key phrase, 100

step in The Wedge Sales

Call, 83

Trump, Donald, 104

Two biggest problems of

selling. See


Two kinds of buyers and

sellers, 187

United States Bureau of

Labor Statistics, 180


key phrase, 110

step in The Wedge Sales

Call, 84

Wal-Mart, 48


based on identifying and

using competitive

advantage, 14–16

based on three-party

selling situation, 10



defined, 9

development of, 136–140

efficiency of, 60–61

ethical basis for, 12–13

expansion into The

Wedge Sales Culture,


necessity for pain in order

to make it work, 35–37,


origin of, 136–140

seven rules of, 81–83

six steps of The Wedge

Sales Call, 83–84

Wedge Flight Plan, 194

Wedge-proofing, 54, 192

Wedge Sales Call:

based on the seven rules of

The Wedge, 81–83

defined and outlined with

six steps, 83–84

development of, 136–140

integration into Wedge

Sales Culture, 148–152

key conversational phrases

of, 131–132

part of Wedge Flight Plan,


previewed, 63–64

summary of,


used to shorten selling

cycle, 141–142

Wedge Sales Culture:

five-step change formula,


four groups of a company,


four key roles to create

and sustain,


origin of name,


Welch, Jack, 158


key phrase, 123

step in The Wedge Sales

Call, 84

Winning with precision and


Gulf War and, 60

World War II and, 60




About the Author

Randy Schwantz is a leading authority and expert on

the sales process. A highly successful sales professional,

he is a nationally respected sales trainer, author, sales

coach, consultant and public speaker. Randy is president

and CEO of The Wedge Group, whose clients include

Fortune 500 companies as well as small businesses. His

unique sales strategy, The Wedge®, has been embraced by

hundreds of companies and thousands of individual sales

professionals throughout the United States and Canada. In

his career, Randy has spent more than 10,000 hours talking

with people who sell for a living. He and his wife, Lori, reside

with their four daughters near Dallas, Texas.



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