Demand-Side Sales

I came across Demand-Side Sales from a Jason Fried tweet. I’m glad I picked it up as it’s the most cogent and relatable sales books I’ve read. It makes a clear case for why sales doesn’t have to be customer-antagonistic nor pressure-oriented. Instead the best sales is centered on the customer and what they need, not the features you’re driving and commission you’re seeking.

Foreword – By Jason Fried

Selling isn’t about you. Great sales requires a complete devotion to being curious about other people. Their reasons, not your reasons. And it’s surely not about your commission, it’s about their progress.


In my experience, customers bought on their terms. I didn’t convince them to do anything; they convinced themselves.

Two Perspectives on the World: Supply and Demand

What they call demand-side selling is sales from the customers point of view. It’s not about emphasizing the features and benefits of a product but, instead, about asking more fundamental and curious questions about what customers want your product to do for them. You have to figure out what’s causing a customer to make the purchase and then understanding the value your product offers from that starting point.

When somethings not working the struggling moment occurs. It forces people to stop and ask themselves a question. It’s those questions that spur demand. When you study how people buy, you realize if there’s no struggle, there’s no demand—without demand people don’t buy.

They argue that understanding the customer empathetically adds more value to sales than any set of features and facts. That deep understanding is what lets you spot patterns and target causal factors rather than just correlations.

The Frameworks for Demand-Side Selling

A lot of this stems from their Jobs To Be Done framework. The starting point of this requires a customer to be struggling and to desire to make progress. And it’s overcoming the struggle that counts as progress, not merely eliminating or working around it.

They outline three categories of motivation to understand:

  • Functional: what time, effort, and speed is required of the buyer?
  • Emotional: what positive or negative thoughts drive the purchase?
  • Social: how do others perceive, respect, trust, or acknowledge me?

Overall, the goal in demand-side sales is to reduce the negative functional, emotional, and social motivations, which are causing anxiety and serving as a barrier. While at the same time, amplifying the positive motivations to create pull for the product or service.

There are four forces that drive someone’s progress:

  • The push of the situation (i.e. how bad is it?).
  • The magnetism of the new solution (i.e. how much better is it?).
  • The anxiety of the new solution (i.e. how unknown is it?).
  • The habit of the present (i.e. how much has to change?).

This is why adding more features to your product (or to your sales pitch) is not always a good thing. It can increase the surface area for anxieties to present, which will drag the customer’s inclination to purchase.