Third-Party Selling: What It Is & Why You Should Be Doing It

Why You Should Make Your Sales Points Using Third-Party Selling

Imagine for a second the “typical salesperson” negative stereotype – you know what I mean – the pushy, over-talkative, semi-likable yet slightly untrustworthy fellow you see hawking Ginsu knives on late night television or playing a caricature in a movie or series.

One trait this guy has is that he really pushes the benefits of his product. And he usually does it using superlatives – “the greatest ever” – “like never before” – “we can’t be beat”.

The other thing you’ll notice is he’s usually making these points from his own perspective – expressing his (the salesperson’s) opinion why what he has to sell would be just perfect for a person like you.

Besides the obvious pushy turn-off factor here, this approach is a fail for another reason. You might see a few customer testimonials flash on the screen at some point. But the basic problem is inherent – the salesguy is relying too much on his own views and opinions, and not enough on third-party selling.

What is 3rd-party selling?

Third-party or third-person selling is different because it relies on the words of others – ideally satisfied customers, or those who’ve expressed positive opinions about your product or service – to make points.

This makes it more powerful and believable.

To see it in practice, take this example. Which is more powerful?


Example 1). Salesperson: “I am sure this is going to save you more time, because it’s one of the latest and newest technologies available.”


Example 2). Salesperson: “One thing our customer John from company xyz liked, is how much time this saved him. I think he just liked the gains he got since it’s based on one of the latest technologies.”

Did you say #2? Good answer! But why is it more powerful?

Why 3rd-person selling is more effective

Third party selling works better for a few reasons:

  • Your opinion does not matter nearly as much as that of other disinterested users. After all, you’re the salesperson – so you’re supposed to think your product is good
  • Third – party statements subtly tells the client that others are using this already and that you have had some success in getting your product/service into the market
  • Third – party statements give the prospect confidence to buy from you. One of the fears salespeople must overcome is the fear of making the wrong decision and/or fear of embarrassment*

Third party selling makes the points you make more authentic and believable.

Another bonus of 3rd-party selling: if you make a point, the person you are speaking with can easily argue with you. We can’t argue with another party who is not even in the room.

When you can use 3rd-party selling

You can use 3rd party comments in many parts of the sales process:

  • Answering Objections in advance
  • Answering “Live” Objections
  • Describing what people like about your product/service
  • Demonstrating features of your product that others like
  • When delivering the Price
  • When Closing a Sale (“One thing company xyz liked about the way we work is…”)

And others.  Ideally, your sales process should be a series of 3rd-party stories and testimonials. You should try to make your points always using these third party statements. Be sure to build up your repertoire of stories, so you always have some good ammo you can use*.

How to get good testimonials/stories for 3rd-party selling

To do this well, you need testimonials. There are various ways to get them:

  • Ask for them – why did the client like this or that aspect of the product, service – or process of working with you?
  • Remember to always write them down. If you hear a nice testimonial in a meeting, make sure you put it down immediately after. Details make the testimonial more real and believable.
  • You can even get testimonials from non-clients. A prospect may make a great point in a meeting, and even if they never buy from you – the testimonial could end up being even more valuable, long-term, than a sale – especially if it helps many others feel confident enough to buy from you. For example, a client might say something like “I can see how this would help us – if we tried to do it on our own, we’d probably figure it out – but would lose a year in the process.” That’s a great testimonial, so use it. They don’t have to be based only on user’s results – can also come from outsiders’ impressions.
  • Likewise, even non-prospects can provide you with testimonials. Ask people in your industry and those you respect for their thoughts on your product/service
  • To get testimonials from current or past clients, you can always reach out to them. Send an email and/or set up a feedback call where you ask them to share 2 or 3 of their favorite things about working with you, and 2 or 3 things they might change. This gives them a chance to say both positive and negative things. It makes it easier as it provides some balance to the feedback (rather than saying, “tell us why you love us and only why you love us” – or the reverse). That makes it easier for those who wouldn’t want to hurt your feelings, to share. And it makes it easier for you, because you’re not asking them to only say good things about you. You can even pinpoint this to certain areas – “what are 2 things you loved about our delivery, and 2 things you might suggest we improve?”

What if you don’t have a testimonial for a certain point?

If you don’t have third party stories, you can always generalize until you get one. For example:

“One thing I know that a lot of CTOs worry about is whether they have the right scope of information to make decisions. That’s why I think most CTOs appreciate having a suite of data like we provide in our dashboard.”

You can make these general statements, without using names, until you get an actual testimonial in the area. Or, you can make a statement, and ask if the other side agrees – that creates its own testimonial*.

Generally, using real names, if you are able to (not blocked by NDAs or other considerations), is more powerful. If you can’t use real company/people names, you can always describe the company using neutral/effectively descriptive language.

Want to know more?

If you’d like to get some suggestions or ideas on how you can boost your 3rd-party selling effectiveness, we’d be happy to talk

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