In his books “Power Base Selling” and “The New Power Base Selling,” Jim Holden presents a methodology he developed for increasing sales success. His methodology focuses on recognizing and taking advantage of the internal politics and influencers, the “power base,” of the company to which you want to sell your product.

The Power Base

The internal politics of a company can make long-shot sales and break what look like no-hassle sales. The apparent decision maker for a sale often holds too little political capital to push a decision through. For example, if you sell customer relationship management software, the chief marketing officer represents the obvious choice for pitching your product. If the marketing department has suffered a set of recent failures while the IT department has delivered improved bottom line value, the chief information officer will hold more sway over software decisions. The power base methodology advocates looking for these kinds of internal political situations so you can present your product to the appropriate influencers.

Unexpected Value

A product that only meets stated purchase criteria won’t convince a power influencer. It must deliver an "unexpected value" that aligns with the her goals. Say the CIO holds the real power in the purchase decision for CRM software. While the CMO’s interest may rest on the functionality of the customer service component of the software, that may prove tangential the CIO’s concerns. You must investigate the CIO’s agenda and show how your product aligns with it. If the CIO’s agenda focuses on streamlining metrics analysis, securing her support means showing her how your CRM product furthers that goal. You increase your odds of a successful sale by lining up support from the apparent decision maker and the power influencer.


Few companies operate in a competitive vacuum. Securing a sale means outmaneuvering or, as Holden puts it, “outselling” your competition. Outselling your competition means, in general, conducting the political analysis and differentiating your product to appeal to the varying needs of apparent decision makers and power influencers. If your competition takes the traditional route of pitching to the apparent decision maker, you outmaneuver them through superior understanding of the internal politics at play.

Investing Resources Wisely

The execution of the power base methodology also takes pragmatic concerns into account. Devotion of six months to investigating and nurturing a sale with a low profit margin is a poor investment of time and resources. The return on investment must justify your input of resources. Six months to a year of investigation and nurturing a sale with a sky-high return on investment makes sense in terms of how you deploy your time and resources.