February 12th, 2016 | by
5 min read

I’m not sure where this metaphor came from. Perhaps I was working late one night, slightly delirious from the computer’s mesmerizing dance of pixel-flickering, combined with a gnawing hunger. Perhaps my subconscious provided me with the background music of a Mariachi band. Or maybe it was a friend obsessing over the creation of their own Mexican wrestling masks. But no matter where the idea originated, for several months the analogy of “sales is like a taco” has stuck in my head like a delicious kernel of elote. Now, the time is nigh to share it with the world because, well, who doesn’t love tacos?

Envision your perfect version of a taco. We all have our favorites: whether they’re the ones we make at home with our families on Tuesdays, the ones from the local and authentic family-owned establishment in our neighborhood, or even the on-the-go fast food type taco. No matter your preference, it doesn’t really matter because the best part about tacos is that they come in all shapes and sizes for all types of people.

Tacos are universal and diverse just like sales. In fact, this is just like the products and services that are pitched everyday – vastly diverse, of varying quality, and indicative of the seller’s (and buyer’s) brand identity and values. And that’s just the tip of the metaphor iceberg that’s about to be shared!

Ok, so you’ve got your version of a perfect taco in your head. Now let’s dig into what this taco is all about. The anatomy of a taco consists of 2 basic parts: the shell and the filling. Mmmm…delicious filling. Right, back to the analogy, let’s talk about that shell.

The Shell: Holding the Prospecting Relationship Together

At first glance, the shell is one unit, starting out as a flat round disc. But in reality the shell has three parts, 2 sides and a bottom. If we take this into the world of sales it breaks down a little something like this. One side of the shell is the customer, the other is the salesman, and the bottom is what holds everything together.

Not all taco shells are alike and neither are the deals, nor the people involved in making them. Crispy shell, soft shell, yellow-corn, blue-corn, white flour, buckwheat flour – there’s all sorts of shells that can be used to create a taco. Whatever shell used is a personal preference and chosen to a) represent the seller’s values and b) attract the ideal customer, much like a target audience in sales.

For example, If I’m going to make tacos for a group of people with gluten sensitivity, then I’m definitely going to use a corn tortilla. If I’m entertaining a group of foodies, I might go for the blue corn tortilla. The message I am presenting about myself (or my company and its product) and understanding of my audience (or my prospect) is represented in the packaging of my taco, aka the shell, which will ultimately reveal the tasty filling inside.

Tasty Filling (aka the Product or Service)

What brings the two sides of the shell together? The need to fill the empty void caused by a challenge that needs a solution. For the taco eater, it’s clearly hunger. For the B2B sales representative and prospect, it’s the business’s challenge or pain point. The filling of our taco,? That’s the product or service that meats the need of the consumer. (see what I did there?)

Not all taco fillings or solutions are made equal. Some are simple, without a lot of seasoning or wide array of ingredients but still cooked well and delicious. Others have a lot of ingredients but the quantity doesn’t make up for the overly greasy meat mix soaking through the bottom. Some have too many toppings and the customer ends up with a massive taco that’s too much to handle (cue SNL’s Taco Town sketch below) and the overall experience falls flat.

Have you ever been sold on the extra bells and whistles of a product that’s way more complex than you actually needed, just to end up not using it because it was too complex? I bet that’s never happened to anyone, ever. From the sales side, it’s important to know what kind of taco you are selling so that you go after the right kind of customer and understand your sales cycle.

Saturday Night Live – Taco Town from alyssa sarfity on Vimeo.

The Taco Sales Cycle

Eating tacos is similar to the sales cycle. If the sales representative knows when the customer is hungry and can get them their taco right when they are ready to buy and eat it, then the taco filling is hot and the shell in an ultimate state to support the filling, providing a positive structure to deliver the solution to the problem. The result is a win for all parties.

However, if the taco is ordered but fired too soon in the kitchen and must wait under the warmer until the appetizer has been eaten, then a somewhat soggy taco is the result. This is akin to when a salesperson doesn’t have the tools to anticipate when the customer needs the product and must compete with other vendors. Their offer must wait while the customer finishes going through demos with other similar vendors.

By the time they’ve settled on your product, the bright and shiny solution you promised has turned into a solution that’s “fine”. Sure, it’s still good but not as good of an experience as the well-timed sale that satiates both the needs of the prospect and the salesperson.

The worst scenario is when the deal takes too long and eventually falls through. Much like the customer who orders a taco but then talks on their phone for 20 minutes after the taco arrives. The taco eventually gets mushy on the bottom and falls apart – much like a potential deal that spends too much time waiting to reach the decision-maker and gets by-passed by some other solution.

How to Ensure Sales Taco Success?

Lettuce take this analogy into a more direct lesson for the hungry salesperson:

We started out with the shell, which tells us that it’s important to not only understand the product you are pitching but to also understand your audience. Sure, you could spend hours googling various Mexican restaurants to understand the unique demographics and taco offerings of each establishment. Alternatively, you could get the target audience from each restaurant’s marketing department and request a menu from the head chef, which would make the research part of your sales job a little less time-consuming.

Fortunately for the modern B2B marketer, there’s a more effective method to understand your prospects and what current pain points you can solve. It’s called sales intelligence, and it can provide you with information like what technology the prospect is already using (indicating compatibility and an opportunity to oust a competitor), the budget of the department you’d like to sell into, which personnel would be most likely to utilize your product, and much more. This intel let’s you approach prospects who would be most interested in your blue-corn shell tacos vs. those that would really just prefer a flour burrito.

This applies not only to the shell but also to the filling. Using sales intelligence about the company, like overall budget or other technology in their stack, can give you an indication of whether or not your $100k per annum product is a good match for the marketing department that’s making lots of impact in their sphere of influence but has only a $50k budget. It also gives you a plain ‘ol competitive edge.

Lastly, getting your product in front of the right people at the right time will ensure there’s no soggy tacos in your sales cycle. Knowing when it’s the right time to pitch your product not only helps make your sales process more effective but also makes the buying process much easier for the prospect. DiscoverOrg’s sales intelligence platform does this by uncovering purchasing scoops and utilizing predictive analytics to help you be the first person in the door to sell the product – a position that results in a won deal 74% of the time.

If a new CIO is hired (usually an indicator that they will want to shake things up with new technology) you know about it. If Acme Inc. starts increasing their online consumption in cloud security articles, then it’s an indicator they are looking to invest in that technology. Oh yeah, the comprehensive and accurate contact data that comes with an excellent sales intelligence product, like DiscoverOrg’s, also helps you by-pass the gatekeepers and reach out directly to that new CIO to get your product front and center.

All of this fantastic intel, used in conjunction, creates a magic formula for effective sales and ensures that all of your tacos are delicious and definitely not soggy. No. Soggy. Tacos.

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Claire McEachern
About the author

Claire McEachern

Claire has 15+ years of creative communications, digital marketing, account and project management expertise in both the B2B and B2C environments. She has a passion for merging technical and creative skills in order to create narratives that educate, entertain, and call-to-action audiences on both the prospect and customer sides of the house. She has a B.S. in Sociology from James Madison University and an M.S. in Sustainable Design from Philadelphia University.