As many of you know, I invite colleagues and other sales pros to contribute to the Rainmaker Minute.  This month we have invited Toby Stansell to share with us some of his favorite quotes and axioms resulting from a highly successful business career.  Toby is President of AcumenIT, one of the largest IT solutions providers in the Southeast. Toby’s career and love is in Sales.  He is a passionate leader with an uncanny ability to communicate ideas.  From time to time, we will ask Toby to contribute. I believe you will enjoy his writing and insights. 

Toby’s Sales Excellence Corner


First, let me state that many of the principles, philosophies, and axioms below did not originate with me. I have tried to give credit where credit is due. I have said for many years that I am not sure that I have had a single original thought in my entire life, but that I have been fortunate to have been in the presence of intelligent and wise people on many occasions. These nuggets of wisdom have helped me construct a principled framework for thought and action that hopefully plays out in both my personal life and my business life.

In the blogs that follow, I am going to share some of these principles that have been proven true over a 35+ year career. And… maybe more importantly… I will describe and illustrate their application to the world of sales via some additional explanation and some easy-to grasp examples.

“The biggest difference that I have seen between people who do… and people who don’t…is that people who do just believe that they can.”

Success for garden-variety salespeople is always “just around the corner.” Their sales cycles always seems to “drift to the right”… i.e. the actual sale is delayed or never occurs… and there always seems to be some new hurdle that has to be cleared to secure the sale. Don’t believe it. World-class salespeople have mastered the “P2” model. “P2” stands for predictability and punctuality. World-class sales people know which orders they are going to close and they know when they are going to close them. It’s not luck… it’s proficiency and professionalism.

“All long-term relationships, personal or business, require two fundamental ingredients… trust and respect.”

So many salespeople today still try and sell on strength of personality… believing that having a winning personality and getting the prospect to like them is all they need to do to get a company to do business with them. What the prospect really wants from a world-class salesperson is guidance… guidance that helps the buyer operate their business more productively, and ultimately, more profitably. That means the salesperson must provide insightful and innovative recommendations that demonstrate an understanding of the prospect’s business objectives, strategies, and processes.

The prospect ultimately decides to do business with that salesperson whose recommendations result in a competitive edge. The salesperson earns the trust and respect of the prospect, which far outweighs the fact that the salesperson may be “likeable.” It is an overused term, but the salesperson becomes the “trusted advisor”… the expert.

“The greatest tool that salespeople have at their disposal is their brain.”

The greatest tool that salespeople have at their disposal is their brain. Sometimes we forget that. As Randy Dobbs states in his book, Transformational Leadership, “Bring your brain to work!” One of the primary differences between intelligent individuals and less intelligent individuals is that intelligent people have a penchant for and an ability to solve problems. When many salespeople encounter obstacles or hurdles they have not encountered before, it sometimes paralyzes them, and they throw up their hands and give up.  In today’s world where the answer to almost any question can be found via Google or YouTube, the intelligent salesperson recognizes the breadth and depth of resources at his /her disposal, and their response is, “I can figure this out.” And they do.

“Wise people learn from experience. Wiser people learn from the experiences of those who went before them.”

A well-known and very successful college football coach recently said that after you do something the first time, then you know that it can be done, and it makes it easier to do it again.  The challenge is doing it the first time.  So… if you can’t look to your own experience for previous sales success in a similar situation… look to someone else. Ask your customers for the names of the best salespeople that call on them and that sell products and services that are not competitive with yours.  Ask for their contact information, or better yet, ask for a warm introduction. Call them. Tell them you want their advice and that you need a “Sales Sherpa.” You will be surprised as to how many individuals will be willing to help you. Ask them about a similar situation and the steps they took to secure the sale. If they did it, then you know it can be done. When you can’t draw on your own sales experience and success, draw on someone else’s.

Until next time!