Master the 'Sales Success Triangle'

So, you want to be successful in sales? With the right attitude, behavior and technique you can be a heavy hitter when it comes to selling—or really, anything!

Working with sales professionals, I constantly meet people who are trying to achieve higher levels of success. Even people who are not directly in sales need to be better at selling something at some point in their careers—whether it’s selling their ideas or even themselves. The following are the ABT’s of selling and they are all equally important to the success of salespeople. See how they flow in the “Success Triangle” below.

A = Attitude

We all know what it means to have the right attitude, but how does that apply to your business? You will only perform your job in a manner consistent with how you see yourself conceptually. Check your attitude by asking yourself these questions:

  • At this moment, how do you feel about yourself, your company and your product?
  • Do you have a deep sense of self-appreciation?
  • Are your beliefs setting you up for victory or defeat?
  • What is your current level of confidence and motivation?

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. To me, attitude is more important than the past, education, money, circumstances, failures, successes—more important than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for the day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one thing we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you—we are in charge of our attitudes.

B = Behavior                 

Do you have a reason to stretch for success and are you stretching to reach success? Behaviors are goals in action. They’re the things you’re willing to do every day, every week, that make you a good prospector, salesperson or manager. They’re the things that make you successful in your career, the things that build your character, the things that make you a winner in life. Productive behavior will get you in front of enough of the right prospects.

When assessing how effective and productive your behavior is, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What new behaviors—what new habits—are you building for yourself right now to grow old with?
  • How well do you use your time?
  • Do you have goals?
  • Do you have a plan in which you have conviction?
  • Are you willing to do the daily activities required to execute your plan?

T = Technique (selling skills)                 

When you’re in front of a prospect, how effective are you? It takes daily practice to develop the skills that give you the winning edge over the competition. Assess yourself in this area by considering the following questions about your selling skills:

  • Are you leading the buyer-seller dance, or are you allowing your prospect to take the lead?
  • Are you developing strong, up-front contracts every step of the way?
  • Are you finding out what’s really going on or are you settling for smoke and intellectual BS?

The three aspects of the “Success Triangle” are equally important. Thoroughly assess yourself in all three areas, expand on your successes, troubleshoot your problems and make the necessary adjustments and commitments required to truly become the heavy hitter you’ve always dreamed of being.

Tom Scully is a sales consultant and owner of a Sandler Training franchise in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

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  • Next up: Matching Up: How to Strike Strategic Partnerships

    Matching Up: How to Strike Strategic Partnerships

    From Day One, Joshua Holmes had big dreams for his small business. “My background was never in building small websites—it was in much larger enterprise solutions for hospitals and e-commerce,” Holmes relates. Problem was, there just aren’t a whole lot of big hitters  in Medina, where his 12-person company is based.

    From Day One, Joshua Holmes had big dreams for his small business.

    “My background was never in building small websites—it was in much larger enterprise solutions for hospitals and e-commerce,” Holmes relates. Problem was, there just aren’t a whole lot of big hitters  in Medina, where his 12-person company is based.

    At first, he did pretty much all types of Web-related work, but he kept his eye on the big leagues, and his business finally built up a rapport and symbiotic partnership with Miami, Florida-based software firm, dotCMS, that was looking for a developer like Ethode to implement its program.

    Holmes learned about dotCMS because he was looking for a platform built in Java (which is faster and more sophisticated than Word Press, from a developer standpoint). He came across dotCMS, which had the features he wanted. When he got to know the firm—which was rolling out its product to marketers who needed help with implementation—both parties discovered a synergy.

    Holmes didn’t know dotCMS, and it’s not like the relationship bloomed overnight. But Holmes took a chance, vetted the firm and dedicated time to learning their product and using it himself.  The more they got to know each other, they realized they had a lot in common. “We came from similar backgrounds,” he says.

    Today, when dotCMS sells its product to a customer, Ethode almost always installs it. And when a customer is considering dotCMS, Ethode often helps close the deal because its third-party opinion makes an impact.

    “Our business doesn’t come from constantly trying to find the next customer,” Holmes says of partnerships like dotCMS and how this opens the sales door. “They depend on us to install a product to make their customers happy, and most of their customers can’t do it themselves.”

    So you’re ready to go big-game hunting? Great! Before you start that hunt, though, read what our experts have to say about their own experiences and how it can jumpstart your efforts.? That means getting this business involves more than just aking for it. Allow our experts to explain.

    What are you trying to do?

    If you’re thinking about a partnership with a big business, the first thing you need to do is: Stop! Christian Silveira, director of sales and mass market operations at OnDemand Energy Solutions, which, like Ethode, has also taken the big-business plunge.

    You first have to figure out if it makes sense for your business. “What is your scope? It’s not necessarily a good business practice for every company, depending on the verticals or services they provide,” he points out.

    Differentiating commodities

    OK, So, you’ve decided it makes sense for you. Great! So, now what? (Hint: It has to do with standing out from the crowd!)

    Energy is a commodity, but OnDemand’s services are far from it. Acting as a consultant is how the firm differentiates itself from competitors. A conversation about the price of power shifts to business strategy—and that’s when large clients listen.

    “The conversation changes from savings to risk mitigation and that is typically exciting for our big clients,” says Christian Silveira, director of sales and mass market operations at OnDemand Energy Solutions, which, like Ethode, has also taken the big-business plunge.

    “We talk about how they want to manage their energy risk and go in with a layered approach to buying a volatile commodity. This message resonates with them.”

    Winning face time

    For Holmes, the key to securing large clients has been physically meeting decision makers and contacts who can point him to key personnel in large organizations.

    Of course, that’s easier said than done. But Holmes has found typical lead generation tactics many Web businesses use are not as effective—such as pay-per-click, search engine optimization and traditional advertising.

    “In this day and age, everyone thinks it’s all about electronic ads, but at the end of the day there are a lot of people who say great things but wind up doing a terrible job,” he says. “So, there is fear around hiring IT companies. People are always skeptical of you.”

    Networking in the community and actually meeting prospects makes all the difference. “You have to find them and shake their hands—and once they realize what you know, they recognize you are unique,” Holmes says.

    Show your value

    This seems like a simple question to ask, but what can you really do for a big client? If you’ll help grow their revenues, how? If you’ll mitigate risk for them in some capacity, how? If you’ll expand their footprint or product offerings—how? Be prepared to explain how you can help, and back that up with examples.

    “An anology I like to give when talking with large clients is, ‘Do you file your corporate tax returns yourself?’” Silveira says. Of course, they say no. “Did you hire the cheapest CPA, or the best that provides the most value?”

    Getting prospects to think about value and recognize their buying an expertise can be a game-changer. “The main thing we push here is question-based consulting,” Silveira adds. In other words, he doesn’t want to sit in a boardroom and spend an hour delivering a pitch. He wants prospects to toss him hard-ball questions so he can prove OnDemand’s expertise.

    Investing in growth

    By reinvesting profits into the business, Holmes has grown his firm to the scale where he can service large corporate customers. He knew from the beginning this “enterprise” demographic was his target audience, so he aligned his business strategy accordingly.

    That includes plants to build the first data center in Medina County in 2017, and possibly opening another U.S. location out of state.

    Scaling up

    If you’re going to service the big players, you better be prepared with the resources and manpower (if required) to fulfill your obligations. Big business can mean big workload. For Ethode, that meant scaling up with independent contractors at first so Holmes could service customers’ needs as a constant point of contact (and salesperson).

    Once he grew the business, by year three, Holmes brought on full-time employees. By the end of 2016, he expects to employ 20 people, growing the staff by up to eight employees. “The Catch-22 of contractors is you don’t own them,” Holmes quips. “You can’t dictate their full-time schedules, otherwise they are not considered contractors by law.” 

    Dropping names

    Holmes leveraged his background building corporate enterprise software systems when talking with large prospects about his small business. “I name dropped a little,” he says, relating that he worked on a “massive” project for Skyy Vodka and subsidiaries. “The customer is buying you. They want to know that you know what you are doing, so I said, ‘This is my background. This is what I’ve done.’”

    “I’m a small guy and I fish in a big pond,” Holmes says. “But if you have some background working with big business, that can alleviate their fears.”

    Big business wins

    Following the tips above can pay off in a big way, as Holmes and Silveira can attest.

    Through its partnership with dotCMS and others, Ethode works all over the country. This means Holmes gains exposure to a range of clients in his “sweet spot.” Ethode has implemented projects for companies such as Roto-Rooter, The Cheesecake Factory, Johnsonville, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital—and locally, The University of Akron and Oberlin College.

    “I knew I wanted to immediately grow the company,” Holmes says of the business that got its start in 2010. “It made sense for me to reach out to those two industries (healthcare and e-commerce) and network with people I knew already.”

    It’s been a worthwhile venture also for OnDemand, where large customers comprise approximately 20% of the customer base. And 80% of the energy load under contract comes from that base. “It’s the old 80/20 rule,” Silveira says.

    Overall, OnDemand manages electricty supply requirements for more than 5,000 clients with more than 27,000 meters, a total energy load under contract exceeding 15 billion kilowatt hours. That’s big.

    A “legacy book” of ongoing relationships prior to launching OnDemand has been key to getting in the door with big companies. Like Ethode, OnDemand took a good look at “who do you know” and honed in on those clients. Previously, the firm was part a wholly owned subsidiary of Duquesne Light in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

    OnDemand’s client base runs the gamut, and most are small businesses. But the firm can really stretch its consulting muscles when working with large firms that hire OnDemand as an extension of their energy management teams. They look at OnDemand as the CPA or attorney—a professional they need on hand to navigate energy procurement contract language. 

    Next Steps

    Which business partnership is right for you?

    The National Federation of Independent Business has identified four things to consider before launching yourself into a business partnership. They are:

    • Brand alignment: Does your potential partner share your company’s same values? Are the cultures similar?
    • Location: Will being separated by many miles or time zones strain the partnership?
    • Complementary products: Service companies, for instance, should consider joining forces with a company that offers a product you commonly use. (Think a water softener manufacturer linking up with a company that installs water softeners.)
    • Target audience: Ensure the business has the same customer profile as yours.

    Want more? Visit for additional resources related to this article.

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  • Next up: Maximize your Savings with the New User-Friendly Office Depot Website

    Maximize your Savings with the New User-Friendly Office Depot Website

    Office Depot and OfficeMax are now one company. The Office Depot Savings Program that COSE now offers as a part of its membership provides access to great savings on thousands of products through a new user-friendly ecommerce website that has been built exclusively for COSE members.

    Office Depot and OfficeMax are now one company. The Office Depot Savings Program that COSE now offers as a part of its membership provides access to great savings on thousands of products through a new user-friendly ecommerce website that has been built exclusively for COSE members.


    The new COSE site offers many more features and functions than the older OfficeMax platform, including faster account setup in both the billable and pay-by-credit-card payment options. You can also download a Store Purchasing Card, which allows you to receive your COSE discounts when you shop at your local Office Depot or OfficeMax store!


    On behalf of its members, COSE has negotiated extreme discounts on a “Core List” of over 700 items most frequently purchased! Office Depot also offers discounts on an additional 1200 popular items.


    Set Up Your Account Today!

    In order to enjoy these savings online, set up an account through the new COSE-Office Depot site. The account creation process takes only a few minutes:

    1. Visit the COSE-Office Depot site
    2. Click the "Account Registration - Billable" or "Pay by Credit Card" button
    3. Complete and submit the form to initiate account creation
    • Registrants for "Pay by Credit Card" may begin shopping immediately
    • Registrants for "Billable" will be contacted by your Office Depot representative, Alex Horne to complete the account creation process
    • You will be notified that your account is active within 5-7 business days

    Through the end of 2016 and while supplies last, you can take advantage of our promotion on BOISE® X-9® Multi-Use Copy Paper—only $26.49 per case (10 reams). That’s over 50% off the retail price for our members most commonly purchased copy paper.


    More than Just Office Supplies

    Office Depot offers more than just office supplies. Now you can purchase these additional solutions and services, all from a single source:

    • Interiors & Furniture - in-stock, ready-to-ship furniture and full service space planning and design
    • Print & Documents - from color copies to promotional products with your logo
    • Facility Resources - snacks and breakroom supplies, restroom and janitorial supplies, safety products, shipping and maintenance supplies
    • Technology - ranging from basic technology products, services and accessories to software licensing and assistance with security and compliance

      Sign up. Save. Share!

      Did you know that you may share your Office Depot discount with anyone—a local charity, community club, school PTA, or anyone who can benefit from the savings! Simply direct them to the COSE-Office Depot site where they can set up a secure, private, individual account profile and begin shopping. It’s just one more benefit that you receive as a member of COSE.

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    • Next up: Medical Marijuana in Ohio Update

      Medical Marijuana in Ohio Update

      As the Greater Cleveland Partnership and our members continue to monitor the implementation of medical marijuana in Ohio, the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP) recently announced an updated timeline. 

      The first marijuana cultivator licenses will likely be awarded in November. While cultivator licenses could be awarded earlier than November, state officials believe the November timeframe is a safe prediction. The Ohio Department of Commerce is reviewing 185 cultivator applications; ultimately, that number will be drawn down to 24.

      Meanwhile, the application process for processors and dispensaries will begin shortly after cultivator licenses are announced. The proposed dispensary districts, which were announced last month, have been receiving formal comments from the public through last week.

      The entire program is required by law to be operational by September 2018.

      GCP did not take a formal position on the medical marijuana legislation that is now Ohio law.  Instead, we worked with key state partners to successfully secure employer rights’ provisions in the legislation to ensure employers were not prohibited from establishing and enforcing a drug testing policy, drug-free workplace policy, or zero-tolerance drug policy. A Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee was formed to provide guidance on the implementation of the law. And, a GCP/COSE member was appointed by the Governor to serve on the committee to represent employers’ views as regulatory proceedings continue.

      Learn more about our advocacy on behalf of small business owners by contacting the Advocacy Team via email at

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    • Next up: Medical Marijuana: What Caused the Delay in Implementation and What's Next?

      Medical Marijuana: What Caused the Delay in Implementation and What's Next?

      Read on below for an update on where the status for implementing Ohio's medical marijuana program currently stands.

      September 8 had been set as the deadline for Ohio’s medical marijuana program to be fully operational. Yet more than two years after Ohio became the 26th state to legalize medical marijuana, no patients have been registered, no retail dispensaries have opened, and product might not be available until early 2019.

      Why? Several factors have led to the delay, including the implementation of the oversight process for Ohio’s medical marijuana program; a longer-than-expected length of time spent reviewing and approving grow licenses; a higher-than-expected number of license applications submitted to the state Pharmacy Board; and other factors as detailed in this article.

      So, what’s next?

      There is no new estimated start date for the state’s medical marijuana program. Ohio's Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee will meet today in Columbus to discuss matters further. That said, the first cultivators to pass inspection and begin growing expect that their first harvests will come between October and the end of 2018. Following those first harvests, the first retail dispensaries could open in January with a limited supply of product. The Commerce Department has scheduled a half dozen cultivator inspections for September with another two scheduled for October. There is an expectation that these operations could then begin growing quickly and catch up to those that have already begun growing.

      Election Day implications

      Gov. John Kasich is term-limited in 2018 and a new administration could bring additional changes to Ohio’s medical marijuana program. Further, both gubernatorial candidates,Mike DeWine and Richard Cordray, have said they would likely focus on fine-tuning the program as needed.

      As Ohio implements the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, GCP will continue to represent the business community’s interests in Columbus. See this website for regular updates.

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    • Next up: Member, Tim Opsitnick, Appointed to CyberOhio Advisory Board

      Member, Tim Opsitnick, Appointed to CyberOhio Advisory Board

      Last year, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the launch of CyberOhio – a collection of cybersecurity initiatives aimed at helping Ohio’s businesses fight back against cyber-attacks.

      COSE/GCP member, Tim Opsitnick, officially joined CyberOhio’s Advisory Board this week, a group composed of state industry experts and business leaders. The expert panel will provide guidance for Attorney General’s Office initiatives on cybersecurity.

      Mr. Opsitnick founded JURINNOV in 2000 and is at the forefront of practitioners addressing issues involved in the security and discovery of electronically stored information. The practice focuses on cybersecurity, data privacy, electronic discovery, and computer forensics.

      “I’m honored to be appointed to such a crucial initiative,” said Opsitnick. “Fighting back against this very real, constantly changing threat is critical and I’d like to thank Attorney General DeWine for allowing me to share my experience to help foster a stronger business environment here in Ohio.”

      CyberOhio’s mission is to provide the best legal, technical, and collaborative cybersecurity environment possible to help Ohio’s businesses thrive.

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