Heavy Hitter Sales Linguistics is the first book that truly explains “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 Linguistics provides communication strategies that enable salespeople to rise above their competition and impactful psychological suggestions that compel customers’ rational intellect and emotional subconscious to buy.

  • Language-based strategies and tactics to secure customer meetings
  • What to say, do, and present in face-to-face customer meetings and phone calls
  • Bonding with customers using sales linguistics, the study of how the customer’s mind uses language
  • Perfecting your sales intuition so you always say the right words at the right time
  • Extensive examples, illustrations, and exercises in an easy-to-read format

If you are in sales, you make your living by talking. If you were a pilot, you would attend years of flight training school and many hours of simulator training before you were allowed in the cockpit of a jumbo jet. If you were a lawyer, you would intensely study law for several years and have to pass your state’s bar exam to ensure your proficiency. If you are in sales, you need to study language and perfect your use of words because your most important competitive weapon is your mouth!

You must be able to adapt your use of language to a customer’s thought process and personality. You need to understand the process of communication and how it determines the level of rapport that is established between people. Language can be directly linked to a person’s behavior. It can be deciphered to predict the future, determine truthfulness, and used proactively to influence a customer’s thinking or opinions.

Heavy Hitter Sales Linguistics takes the concept of becoming a Heavy Hitter (truly great salesperson) to the next level. This book has been written for senior salespeople, those who have been in the field for five, ten, and fifteen years or more. While it will expose the novice salesperson to entirely new aspects of selling, the ultimate goal of Heavy Hitter Sales Linguistics is to help experienced salespeople expand their influence within their local office, region, sales organization, and company. This requires not only winning more business but also having a methodology to explain to others how and why you win.

What is Sales Linguistics?

Traditional sales psychology based upon the assessment of the customer’s personality traits is obsolete. The typical descriptions of personality types have little relevance to C-level sales calls and presentations. In reality, the most important psychological factor is the language that the prospective customer uses. Sales Linguistics --the study of how the customer’s mind creates and interprets language during the decision-making process-- is the new sales psychology!

In Heavy Hitter Sales Linguistics: 101 Advanced Sales Call Strategies for Senior Salespeople, Steve W. Martin teaches salespeople how to winover prospective customers using Sales Linguistics. But what exactly is Sales Linguistics?

Every day, you speak and listen to thousands of words. Through the words you speak, you are able to explain your ideas, recount your past experiences, and share your personality with others. Since the communication process comes so naturally, you assume you are understood. However, the most important words you speak during the entire year are those you say to C-level executives during the make-or-break meetings that determine if you will win a deal.

Most of the time, you probably don’t think about the specific meaning of the words you are using. Since the words are so integrated with your being, they just seem to happen. However, your words represent your attitude, outlook, and perspective about life. But language doesn’t consist solely of spoken words, it has an entirely nonverbal dimension as well. You actually use a series of different languages to communicate to the others and to understand what they are saying to you. The seven languages that are at the foundation of Sales Linguistics are:

1. Word catalog language. The mind’s method for receiving and interpreting information based upon the three sensory channels—visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (feelings and a sense of the body).

2. Internal dialogue language. The never-ending stream of communication inside the mind that represents honest, unedited, and deep feelings.

3. Physical language. Also known as body language, the nonverbal communication that is constantly being emitted by the executive’s body posture.

4. Intersecting activity language. Interests, hobbies, and personal pursuits by which the executive displays his personality, beliefs, and values.

5. Technical specification language. The androgynous, nonpersonal, and technical communication that is based upon the nomenclature and technical terms of the executive’s industry. For example, the computer industry terms RAM, CPU an megabyte.

6. Business operations language. The language that is specific to the daily running of the executive’s business and his role in the organization.

7. Confidential language. The most powerful trust-based language by which the prospective customer explains his personal needs, desires, and plans along with the strategy by which he hopes to fulfill them.

The ultimate goal for the meeting is simple: you want the customer to expose his internal dialogue to you. You want him to honestly explain what he is trying to accomplish and why he is doing it from a business and, more importantly, personal standpoint. You want him to tell you about his personal naeeds and career desires along with how he plans to fulfill them. You want him to speak the confidential language with you. In order to do so, you must progress through the various languages represented by the figure below.

Sales Strategy and Language


Unfortunately, the majority of executive conversations never reach the confidential C-level language. The discussion gets stuck at the technical specification language or the business operations language.

Remember, your most important competitive weapon is your mouth and the words you speak. While you will frequently meet with lower-level and midlevel employees at companies whose business you’re trying to secure, the rare conversations you have with C-level decision makers will directly determine whether you win or lose the deal. Therefore, it is critical that you understand how C-level executives think and how they communicate and that you are able to adapt your use of language to match C-level decision makers’. Now more than ever, you need to understand and master Sales Linguistics.

What Sales Leaders Say About Heavy Hitter Sales Linguistics

"Steve Martin's writing on sales dispenses insights of value to sales leaders up and down an organization. His considerable experience in the field and foundations in research give his recommendations heft and yet they're delivered in an inherently readable and easy-to-understand way."
--Eric Hellweg, Editorial Director, Harvard Business Review

"This book explains the complex concepts of sales linguistics in ways that are actionable and will help senior sales professionals become more successful."
--Tom Furey, President, Standard Register Industrial

"Heavy Hitter Sales Linguistics lays out key (and often overlooked) components of winning versus losing that even the most seasoned sales professional should stop and consider."
--Gary Staley, Vice President of Sales, Americas, Fluke Networks

"Steve Martin has captured the essence of the sale in so many ways--how to say the right thing, do the right thing, and react to the customer's concerns. A must read for the professional salesperson."
--James G. Ellis, Dean, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California

"Steve Martin addresses every step of the sales cycle and provides a paint-by-numbers process to approach, engage, and persuade prospective customers."
--George Bennett, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Field Operations, Isilon Systems division of EMC

"Understanding sales linguistics will help you map out all aspects of interacting with customers—how to get the first meeting, what to say to differentiate yourself, and strategies to close the deal."
--Scott Raskin, CEO, Mindjet

"Steve Martin provides practical everyday advice on how to take professional selling to the next level."
--Monty Carter, President, TELUS Enterprise Solutions

"I see it every day. Salespeople come up with a product pitch and drop it on anyone who will pick up the phone. Spray and pray. This book outlines the correct approach to selling. It's about making a personal connection by truly understanding prospects' needs and speaking their language."
--Michael Nelson, Vice President of Sales, ON24

"If your activity levels are high but your closing rates are low, it's time to change your thinking! By mastering the concepts in this book, you will learn to speak in a language your customer understands. Learn the art of harmonious communication and watch your sales and income soar!"
--Mike Viola, Executive Vice President of Sales, Oasis Outsourcing, Inc.

"Another Steve Martin book that I couldn't put down. A truly different book that translates linguistics to the real world and will give you an edge."
--Joe Vitalone, Vice President of Sales, Americas, LifeSize Communications, division of Logitech

"When it comes to sales, there are a lot of resources that teach selling. Only Steve Martin teaches SELLING and developing salespeople beyond the customary sales skills!"
--Frank Maylett, Executive Vice President of Sales, inContact

"Salespeople reflexively fixate on demonstrations and presentations. Their companies also reinforce this behavior. Heavy Hitter Sales Linguistics focuses on building winning relationships by structuring interactions based upon individual linguistic profiles. It includes entirely new sales concepts based upon the latest neuroscience, which make the book not only interesting to read but highly valuable to even the most experienced salesperson."
--Peter Riccio, Vice President of Mid-Market Sales, Taleo

"Heavy Hitter Sales Linguistics captures Steve Martin's master-level knowledge of sales linguistics and makes these techniques available to everyone. This book can help any salesperson who is interested in understanding and affecting their customers' subconscious buying decisions."
--Mark Sarojak, Director of Global Sales and Marketing, BAE Systems - Geospatial eXploitation Products

"Clarifying the complex issue of communication and showing the means to improve salesmanship to the highest level, Heavy Hitter Sales Linguistics is as simple as it is fascinating to read."
--Peter W. Fellinger, Senior Manager Business Development, Lufthansa Airlines

Thinksales Magazine Thinksales magazineReview

What every sales leader should be looking for is a way to equip his/her sales force with tactical and strategic tools that will separate them from their competitors. This is where Heavy Hitter Sales Linguistics: 101 Advanced Sales Call Strategies for Senior Salespeople comes into play. It’s a unique, researched look into how people use and interpret language during the decision-making process. Written for senior salespeople it will help you, and therefore through coaching your team, to expand influence within the company and with prospects and clients. This will result in not only winning more business, but also being able to explain to others how and why you win. You’ll learn language-based strategies and tactics to secure customer meetings, what to say and do when presenting in face-to-face customer and prospect meetings and how to bond with customers using sales linguistics. Find out how the customer's mind uses language and perfect your sales intuition so you always say the right words at the right time.

The book addresses every step of the sales cycle and provides a paint-by-numbers process to approach, engage and persuade prospective customers. It’s easy to read, with short chapters, extensive examples, illustrations and exercises. This is one book every sales leader should have on their bookshelf.

Table of Contents

1. Communication and the Mind
2. Understanding Customer Benefactions
3. Establishing Mutual Trust
4. Using Customer Fantasies
5. All Buyers Are Liars
6. Utilizing the Human Communication Model
7. Being Aware of the Physical Layer
8. Monitoring the Internal Dialogue Layer
9. Match Their Word Catalog Layer
10. Recognizing the Purpose Layer
11. Altering Meaning with the Phonetic Layer
12. Speaking Content Layer Languages
13. Conscious and Subconscious Communication
14. How to Recognize Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Wiring
15. How People Receive and Transmit Information
16. What Is Your Word Catalog Wiring?
17. Determining the Customer’s Word Catalog Wiring
18. VAK Count Patterns
19. Interpreting Sayings and Clichés
20. Speaking Tone, Tempo, Volume, and Pattern Characteristics
21. Learning Styles
22. Eye Movements and Long-Term Memory
23. Long-term memory Eye Movement Test
24. Short-Term Memory Eye Movement Test
25. Calibrating Eye Movements to Determine Truthfulness
26. Word Catalog and Job Function
27. How the Word Catalog Affects the Physical Layer
28. Observing the Physical Layer in Group Meetings
29. Pacing, Mirroring, and Leading
30. Dominating Sales Call Vignettes
31. Lexical Dictionary and Dead Words
32. Specific and General Words
33. Do You Have Congruence?
34. Mastering the Seven Sales Call Languages
35. Determining Your Sales Call Goal and Personal Outcome
36. Intersecting Activity Language
37. Technical Specification Language
38. Business Operations Language
39. Selling Value
40. Confidential Language
41. Sales Call Themes
42. Sales Call Structure
43. Using Pattern Interruption and Cowcatchers
44. Finding Your Position with Triangulation
45. Ask Questions to Discover Reality
46. Using Offensive Call Statements
47. Using Defensive Call Statements
48. Choosing Customer Success Stories
49. Structuring Customer Success Stories
50. Handling Questions
51. Preparing for Selection Pressure
52. Improving Sales Call Memory
53. Identifying the Bully with the Juice and the Emperor
54. Aligning Value During Sales Calls
55. Getting to the Confidential Language
56. Structuring the Sales Call Close
57. Establishing Dominance
58. Recognizing the Customer Placebo
59. Finding a Coach
60. Questions to Ask Your Coach
61. Building a Participation Pie
62. Setting the Tempo
63. Using Investigative Research to Penetrate New Accounts
64. Communication Vehicles
65. The “1, 2, 3, Rest, Repeat” Campaign
66. Structuring Messages for the 1, 2, 3, Rest, Repeat Campaign
67. Credibility Message of the 1, 2, 3, Rest, Repeat Campaign 68. Tactical-Offer Message of the 1, 2, 3, Rest, Repeat Campaign
69. Final Message of the 1, 2, 3, Rest, Repeat Campaign
70. Comprehension and Your Communication Level
71. How Strangers Meet
72. The Better Person Syndrome
73. Classifying Relationships
74. Listening, Silence, and Selling Past the Close
75. Customer Decision-making
76. No Decision: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt
77. The Subconscious Decision Maker
78. Measuring Sales Call Rapport
79. The Persuasive Elevator Pitch
80. Renewal, Persuasion, and Creation Sales Calls
81. Turning Points and Buzz Kills
82. Structuring the Sales Presentation
83. Pause-to-Check Method
84. Creating Better PowerPoint Slides
85. How Customers Use Coping Mechanisms
86. Using a Sign-in Sheet
87. Conquering Nervousness
88. Anchoring Yourself to Success
89. How to Cope with Losing
90. You Are a Walking, Talking Metaphor
91. Persuasion Techniques
92. Survival, Success, and Significance
93. Improving Curiosity
94. Sales Call Segmentation and Decision-Making Roles
95. Information Roles
96. Character Roles
97. Authority Roles
98. Company Roles
99. Applying Sales Call Segmentation
100. Building Your Sales Intuition
101 Sales Call Preparation Checklist

Sales Linguistics Case Study

Why a LinkedIn Article Went Viral (30k views) and Another Didn't

Sales Linguistics LinkedIn - Steve W Martin

This is the story of two very similar LinkedIn articles. They are on the same topic, use similar images, are about the same length, and both were written by the same person. However, one article went viral and was viewed over 30,000 times while the other was seen by 1,000. Before we begin our discussion, it would be very helpful if you took a quick look at both articles:

The 30,000+ Views “Viral” LinkedIn Article

The 1,000+ Views “Traditional” LinkedIn Article

A comparison of these articles shows how Sales Linguistics techniques can be used to improve communication. Sales Linguistics is the new area of study on how prospective buyers and salespeople use language during the decision making process. 


The power of LinkedIn is the network of millions of business professionals who use it.  The fundamental requirement which determines if your article goes viral, is whether or not members within and outside your network share it with theirs. However, according to my recent research only 36% percent of LinkedIn members regularly share articles and they only shared twenty articles over the past three months on average.

In addition, your article is competing with all the different types of information members share. Nearly half of the shared articles are about industry news or information about their own company as shown below.

Sales Linguistics LinkedIn Research

Therefore, your article has to stand out to be recognized and the sales linguistic technique to accomplish this is called a “cowcatcher.” Most people associate the term “cowcatcher” with the metal grill on the front of a locomotive. However, “cowcatcher” had an entirely different meaning in the early days of the entertainment industry. It was a radio or television show’s opening moments in which the performers tried to grab your attention, stop, and look.

The article’s title is an example of a cowcatcher. “The Seven Personality Traits of Top Salespeople” piques readers curiosity and may cause them to ask themselves, “I wonder what they might be and how do I compare?” Or, they may reflexively associate the article with the landmark book The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. A great cowcatcher engages the mind and appeals to the imagination.

In comparison, “New Research Reveals the Persona of Top Salespeople” is vague and more nebulous. While the wording “seven personality traits” is concrete and sets a tangible expectation about what the reader will receive, words like “research” and “persona” are more abstract as there isn’t a single definitive interpretation. In other words, the stimulus must create a high enough reward to incent the desired response, which in this case is causing someone to read the article and forward it.

Be forewarned, a cowcatcher is more than a pithy title. It sets the stage for the reader’s “receptive state” and how the article will be received. A negative receptive state occurs when the article’s content doesn’t match the title because the reader feels deceived. A positive receptive state is experienced when expectations are met.


The three underlying sales linguistic themes that enable you to build communication momentum are your personal demeanor, your communication style, and the message you deliver. These themes are layered on top of each other in order to build momentum and gain rapport (harmonious communication).

Sales Linguistics - Steve W Martin

Personal Demeanor

You can think of personal demeanor as your physical presence. The viral article is written in a conversational first-person point of view. Here’s an excerpt for example, “I have had the privilege of interviewing thousands of top business-to-business salespeople.” The traditional article was written in a more sterile third-person academic demeanor, “They’ve been in sales an average of sixteen years and have achieved the annual quota that was assigned to them 88 percent of the time.” 


Communication Style

The communication style the viral article employed was a “Belief System” strategy based on introducing an explanation and its associated impact. This in turn, causes the reader to make an assessment if they agree or disagree. Because the reader seeks to validate their own beliefs, the article pulls the reader to the next point regardless of their answer.

The communication style used in the traditional article was a “Top Down” strategy that is more consistent with formal research-based writing. This approach breaks heavier content into smaller chunks that are read sequentially. Unfortunately, attention spans are at an all-time low and casual readers are inclined to drop out of these types of writings.

  LinkedinIn Viral Article Steve W Martin                                                


Why do LinkedIn members share articles? According to my latest research, the top two reasons are the topic is something the member is passionate about and the article makes the person appear more knowledgeable to their network. Therefore, we can surmise the article has to be personally and professionally meaningful in order to be shared.

        The Top Five Reasons LinkedIn Members Share Articles

  1. The topic is something I am very interested in or passionate about
  2. The article makes me appear more knowledgeable or builds my status
  3. I think my connections would benefit from the article
  4. The article validates an opinion or belief of mine
  5. The article is thought provoking or offers a contrarian point of view

All words have something in common. In order to be understood they must be translated into something meaningful: familiar thoughts and terms. The viral message used a “General Statement” with “Operators” messaging structure to increase significance and personal meaning. The general statement identified below introduces the concept to the reader. The operator helps the reader assimilate their own personal interpretation and introspectively apply the ideas.

  LinkedinIn Viral Article Operator Steve W martin

Final Thoughts

Even though both articles were about the subject of top salesperson performance, they were written for different audiences and for slightly different purposes. The viral article was written for a mainstream audience consisting of salespeople and sales leaders. The traditional article was targeted toward sales enablement professionals and company leaders who are always interested in the latest sales research. My goal for writing both articles was to continue to build my personal brand on LinkedIn as a sales expert, author and researcher. So, I’d like to end this article by asking, “How are you building your brand on LinkedIn? 

Steve W. Martiin Speaker

Steve W. Martin

Steve W. Martin is the foremost expert on Sales Linguistics and the Human Nature of Complex Enterprise Sales. He is the author of the "Heavy Hitter" Series of books for Senior Salespeople.

Read More

Lenovo 3

Keynote Speaker

Steve Martin will energize, enlighten, and entertain your sales team with real-world sales strategies, proven tactics, and helpful advice delivered with a healthy dose of humor!

Read More

Buy Books Here