The Gutsy Side of Integrity

By | 2014/09/16

For the past several weeks, I’ve been fortunate to attend Sandler sales training (provided by Staub & Associates in York). I’m not in sales, but have partnered with sales for most of my IT career and have found that the principles apply universally.

The Sandler training program includes a bunch of keywords, pictures, and techniques designed to shift sales people from the stereotypical used-car-salesman-type to a trusted and professional advisor.

I could highlight many take-aways from this training – most are pictured in the graphic below, but if I had to pick one I’d chose NO GUTS NO GAIN! – specifically as applied within the Sandler system.

Sandler Selling System

You may assume NO GUTS NO GAIN! is a confidence-builder or courage-type statement. But applied within the Sandler System it’s actually about honesty and integrity.

It takes GUTS to be honest.

Whether or not you are in sales, all of us eventually find ourselves selling something to someone (ideas, projects, opinions, decisions, budgets, etc).

If your focus is on yourself, your selling approach will most likely fall closer to the used-car-salesman type of approach. That is, you’ll focus on slick words and flashy marketing to make your pitch. Essentially, you are trying to convince the other person to agree with you.

On the other hand, if your focus is on your audience (the company owner, board of directors, boss, staff, peer group, teacher, whomever), you naturally want to pitch from the standpoint of understanding their wants/needs, so that you can ensure you are addressing their concerns.

After understanding the audience, your job is to identify how you can help. That’s the pitch. If you cannot help, there is no pitch.

In my mind, NO GUTS NO GAIN! simply applies honesty and integrity to the process. Be honest about exactly how you can help, the costs to help, and the expected end result. Set expectations clearly, so neither side is disappointed with the outcome.

If your audience throws something unforeseen into the mix at the last minute, have the GUTS to acknowledge it, explain how it impacts the end result, and deal with it honestly. Don’t cover it up and move forward anyway, hoping it will go unnoticed. Have the GUTS to point out anything that might cause friction and discomfort.

It’s quite rare for people to communicate without hidden agendas.  But when everyone works with the same goals in mind (goals that extend beyond any single person), and when team members have the GUTS to be honest, remarkable work happens.

It’s when we hide our real agendas and don’t consider others, out of fear or greed or envy,  that projects and relationships fall apart.

Here’s a challenge for your next project.

  • First, seek to understand. Ask questions. Why would the other person care (or not care) about this project? What might the project do to  help and why is it important? Do you understand the real issue or only a superficial aspect of a problem?
  • Next identify possible areas of concern and discuss these to gain more understanding. Don’t be afraid to discuss tough topics.
  • Finally, be honest in your assessment of the level of help your project provides. Remember, if you can’t help there is no pitch. But if you can help, explain how the other person benefits (don’t make it about you).


7 thoughts on “The Gutsy Side of Integrity

  1. Pim van Dorp

    Dear Lhomsher,

    With interest I read your post on your Sandler training. I agree with your statent that we all are selling: “all of us eventually find ourselves selling something to someone (ideas, projects, opinions, decisions, budgets, etc).”

    I am very interested in the graph / picture which you used in your post. This picture / graph explains a lot of the Sandler System in one graph. Could you send me a printable version of this graph?

    Looking forward to your response.


  2. Peter

    Like Pim, I tried the site you gave, there is no such graphic. Where can we find the downloadable soft copy?

    1. Pete R

      Peter / Pim,

      Did you have any joy getting a downloadable copy of the image? I am would like to do the same, it is excellent.

  3. doyal

    This is funny. Not funny haha, but what a coincidence funny. Just a few weeks ago I was teaching a bunch of tech people on how to deliver architectures that work. I spent about 5 min on frameworks and concepts. The rest of the time was translating the Sandler Submarine to getting projects/platforms approved. A mentor taught me a while back that if I was trying to get a CFO to fund something, I just left IT and entered sales. 🙂

    Great article.

    1. lhomsher Post author

      Thanks for your comment. Kudos to you for combining tech architecture with Sandler submarine! It’s not a natural connection, but I’ve found the Sandler training helpful in all of my various roles, from tech to business… Everything can benefit from sales savvy. Thanks again for the feedback.


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