Grow the Pie!

3 min readOct 4, 2023
A win-win isn’t what most people think it is.

In this story: The definition of a *real* win-win and what it means for both sides.

Written by Maria Edelson, Founder & CEO of Edelson

Most salespeople think a “win-win” is the same thing as a sale. “We got money, the customer got our product — win-win!” That’s not a win-win. It’s just a transaction.

“Win-win” means both sides walk away with more value than they had before. I think of it as “growing the pie.” It’s also called “joint business planning.”

At P&G, we had an agreement to create joint value with a large grocery chain. First, we identified where we both had a problem:

  • The grocery chain had a cost problem — they needed to reduce their overall costs.
  • P&G had a growth problem — we wanted to build our business in paper goods.

During one meeting, the customer mentioned they had a line item service cost that they couldn’t control. It was a throwaway comment. But it was enough to get our wheels turning.

We said: “Well, you know, we buy that service for all of our factories. We happen to have a factory near a few of your locations in Boston. And we’d be happy to sell you that service at our cost, which is probably cheaper than what you’re paying your provider.”

So we actually came up with an agreement in which we, Procter & Gamble, bought and then sold them that service! We sold it to them at a 25% lower cost versus what they were buying from their provider.

In the end, it was around $500,000 in annual savings. They kept $250,000 and put it toward the bottom line, and they reinvested $250,000 into our paper goods. They saved $250,000 on their balance sheet, and we got $250,000 in merchandising money that came out of nowhere. Business was unbelievable!

Together, we grew the pie. The money for the paper goods wasn’t coming from the customer’s pocket; it was coming from the new pile of cash that we directly helped them capture. Both sides walked away with more value than they had before. That’s a true win-win.

Are your salespeople proactively listening to the customer? Are they asking powerful questions to uncover needs, problems, issues and concerns? Are they always looking for problems to solve for the customer that can grow your company’s business? Are they looking for a mutual benefit to “grow the pie”?

Feedback is a gift. Let us know what you think about this story in the comments below.

This is part 2 of Sales Bites, a 12-part series of stories from 35 years of sales experience with P&G and from training 13,000 sales executives globally. Follow or Subscribe below so you don’t miss the next story.

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