Values-Based Selling: Hewlett-Packard's Journey to Enhanced Sales Performance

18 July 2023

In Summary...


The first published evidence that linked the positive values to sales performance was in 2008.

The article described was achieved by HP’s large deal pursuit teams developing sales strategies
on live deals, exploring ways to operationalize the mindsets in a programme called
Winning Value Propositions WVP.

Introduction : Evidence Linking Values To Sales Performance

The first published evidence that linked the positive values to sales performance was in 2008. The article described was achieved by HP’s large deal pursuit teams developing sales strategies on live deals, exploring ways to operationalise the mindsets in a programme called Winning Value Propositions WVP. This programme involved key members of HP’s account teams, solution architects, pricing experts, legal and sometimes marketing executives. Sometimes the customer was involved in the process.

Problem : Breaking The Cultural Mindset

The journey for HP had not been easy. Breaking the cultural mindset that existed inside HP was as difficult as changing the cultural mindset with customers.

In situations where customers see these deals as purely transactional and where procurement departments are trying to have all vendors compete at the same level so they can compare apples with apples, salespeople have to be particularly compelling, creative and audacious to change the transactional mindset to a values-based mindset. This also applies internally to leveraging across the different silos of an organisation, where the same resistance can exist.

Solution : Application Of The Mindsets

We found it was important to consciously use the mindsets when seeking to break some of the entrenched silos that existed inside the organisation. So what did we learn about the application of the mindsets?

  • Their application is potentially non-sequential. While there may be logic in starting at building trust at the baseline level – and in that case ‘authenticity’ and ‘client-centricity’ is where we would start – in some cases, and where we felt there was nothing to lose, we used tactful audacity as a means of getting noticed.

  • The process of asking the sales teams to just think of the mindsets as they went through the sales cycle was, for many, a liberating and creative process. Essentially, we were recognising the capability of salespeople to use these mindsets to create their own, and therefore authentic, version of how these mindsets apply to each sales conversation they have.

  • The sales mindsets can be seen as guiding principles.

  • We realised that the sales mindsets are a sales operating system that supports sales applications. The applications could be a company’s sales processes, or sales methods such as SPIN or challenger, or our own frameworks and specifically designed tools.

  • There is a logic to when the positive mindsets come into play during the sales and buying cycle – but at all times in the sales cycle we would advocate that any decision taken, question asked or action taken consider all four. How do ‘these’ fit with the mindsets? Are we demonstrating the positive mindsets as much as we should? Could we improve?

Results : Were They Successful?

HP’s win rates in their Western Europe region at that time had improved by 250 per cent to 67 per cent. By 2009 this had further improved to 77 per cent. This compared to 33 per cent in the Central Europe region.

Finally, the impact of the increased sales performance on market share was assessed. Over a three-year period, HP increased their market share in the managed outsourcing business from 0.1 per cent to 7.2 per cent.

Furthermore, a number of the deals won by HP have been published: one with the consumer goods giant Unilever, where a memorandum to do the deal was signed in 2007 and closed the following year, and another with Anglo American.

WVP Win Rates Comparison 

Impact on Market Share: Consalia 2009 

Conclusion : A Values Based Sales Approach

So, if the outcomes of the research are perceived as being conclusive, how best do we develop a values- based approach? How do we use the values as guiding principles in the way we conduct ourselves in our sales career?

The next four chapters set out some of the tools and techniques that can be used to adopt the values. If we talk about adapting and changing values and belief systems, we are talking about a transformation, as once new values are acquired, a new philosophy of selling and practice of sales develop, making the process both sustainable and irreversible. It makes sense, therefore, that we first look at arguably the most important of all the principles, the foundation, the value of authenticity. 

Analysis : Values For Selling: As Guiding Principles

We are not born with values. They are developed and nurtured over time. Families, education, religions, culture all play their part in shaping the values we end up living. It is within the capacity of all to choose the values we live as they relate to how we sell – provided we have what Carol Dweck defines as a growth mindset, one that accepts failure as a prerequisite for learning and developing oneself, having an approach to learning driven by curiosity. Organisations are so preoccupied with the questions ‘what do we sell?’ and ‘how do we sell?’ and ‘how much do we sell?’ that they rarely ask the question ‘why do we sell?’ What is our purpose for selling? Is it for financial gain? Is it for recognition? Is it to help customers solve problems? What is our motive for selling?


Many salespeople fell into the sales profession accidentally; very few seem to have made a conscious decision to pursue a career in sales. Yet many end up in sales for different motives.


In the early days the attraction/motive might have been the chance to earn good money, have a car, be out of the office, have an expense account – the job in a way is incidental. The what you sell and why you sell is perhaps secondary; you may not care too much, just feel grateful that someone out there will give you a job. But customers, as we have seen, will sense the passion a salesperson has for their role, the belief in the product and the desire to help them solve their problems. Success in sales long term – and with it career and financial progression – will be entirely driven by the perception that others have of one’s values and to what extent these are aligned with theirs.