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How DE&I Principles are Becoming Part of Selling

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Group of multi racial business colleagues talking about DE&I Principles in Selling

24 May 2023Blog

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How DE&I Principles are Becoming Part of Selling

Companies committed to DE&I principles (diversity, equity, and inclusion) are positioned to become leaders in their industries. Many already are. By incorporating DE&I into their selling practices, sales leaders can better align with customers and develop relationships with DE&I-focused businesses.

Bringing DE&I principles into the sales approach also leads to a more innovative culture. The modern sales organisation needs innovation to navigate the challenges of a changing industry. Consider that revenue linked to innovation rises with diversity, according to research from Boston Consulting Group.

As DE&I customers become ever-present in the market, sellers need an approach that acknowledges, reflects, and responds to the stakeholders within these companies. Read on to learn how to do all three and sell to the purpose-driven buyer.

What are DE&I Principles?

Before diving into how DE&I practices affect businesses, it’s important to know the specific definitions behind each principle.


A range of ages, genders, ethnicities, and even neurodiversity which is how people think.


The practice of ensuring that everyone is treated fairly and equipped with the same resources.


Ensuring that each individual can be heard and can have some influence over business outcomes.

Why Sales Teams Need to Adopt DE&I Principles

DE&I Stakeholders Want to Work With DE&I Sales Teams

Buying is easier for DE&I stakeholders when their principles are reflected in the sales team. The selling team is better equipped to understand the customer’s perspective when they reflect the buying team’s diversity

DE&I Allows Information to Flow Up the Sales Organisation, Not Just Down

A DE&I focus gives every team member a voice. Each person can use that voice to call attention to challenges that prevent a sale from advancing. Sales leaders can benefit from this dynamic by encouraging more feedback from the team. They can also create an environment of psychological safety in which sellers know that they will not suffer professionally if they voice an idea that is challenged.

Five Ways to Engage the DE&I-focused Buyer

1. Connect the Value of the Solution to the Customer’s DE&I Priorities

Asking questions that surface the customer’s DE&I priorities is not enough. Sellers must go further and connect the solution’s value to those DE&I principles. In many cases, the link between the solution and DE&I drivers is not obvious. They must be illustrated clearly.

2. Move Beyond the Business Case

The business case for DE&I practices has always been strong. However, sellers must remember that the buying team’s commitment to DE&I principles ties to ethos as much as it does earnings. Therefore, making the business case for the solution is not enough. Sellers must go further and connect the value of the solution to the buyer’s intrinsic drives, not just their external ones

3. Ensure All Stakeholder Needs are Met

Decision making is shared in the DE&I company. This is part of the equity and inclusion that make up the “E” and “I” in DE&I. This means that the challenge of compelling every stakeholder is greater when working with a DE&I customer. Sellers who understand this will avoid the trap of mistaking the most vocal stakeholders for the most influential ones.

4. Develop the EQ Needed to Surface Unspoken Opinions

It takes some individuals longer to become comfortable offering their opinion, especially if that opinion contradicts others in the group. Inclusion can happen instantly, but participation happens gradually. The seller has a responsibility to surface the opinions of quiet stakeholders because if those concerns remain hidden, they cannot be addressed

5. Rethink Assumptions About the Buying Team

It is no coincidence that DE&I initiatives are on the rise while more millennials are ascending to leadership roles. These same millennials are making diversity, equity, and inclusion a priority. For experienced sellers, this is a change. Only recently have millennials had the level of decision-making power they enjoy today.

In What Millennials Want from Work, the authors’ research found that for millennials “trust in leadership does not come simply from leaders having a higher-level role than those they supervise. The leaders have to continuously earn their direct reports’ trust." For sellers, this is a reminder that it is not enough to convince the C-suite. They must also directly convince the employees upon which the C-suite relies.

How Sales Leaders Can Build a DE&I Setting


Diversity is about more than having the right mix of people. It’s about having the skills to unite them. Getting a diverse group of players on the field is of little use if they cannot work as a team. Creating a cohesive sales team means aligning everyone to a common sales language. Doing so creates communication in which the exchange of ideas becomes more fluid.

Sales leaders can create a universal sale language by uniting all sales team members around a single methodology. As a result, each seller is focused on the same set of core sales activities to push a deal across the line.


Equity is about giving every team member access to the best tools. An equitable workplace is one in which each person receives the resources needed to succeed. This is different from equality, in which each person is treated equally. Equity goes further by acknowledging that we do not all start from the same place.


Sellers feel included in the organisation’s success when coaches provide guidance. To feel included, a seller must have trust in their manager. They must know that the manager has the seller’s interest in mind. There is no better way to develop this trust than through coaching. For many coaches, the challenge is knowing what coaching style is most inclusive and therefore most effective. Learn how to drive success with each member of your sales team with our programme, Managing Different People Differently.

Our work with leaders shows that an agile approach to coaching is the most effective. Agility is what keeps the coaching conversations contextual and relevant to what is happening in the field. Crucially, the best coaches know that the ultimate goal is to empower the seller to become responsible for their own performance and development. In this setting the coach becomes a supportive presence rather than a managerial one.

This agile approach – or Sprint Coaching – is about understanding the seller’s needs before arriving at a solution. Doing so allows the seller to be heard, involves the seller in the coaching process and ownership of the plan, and customises the coaching to the specific needs of each seller. Learn more about how Richardson’s Sprint Coaching can drive success by downloading our programme brochure.

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