The Tao of Frost in Sales

Tony Hughes


Humor me, as there's much that seasoned enterprise sellers could learn from the enduring wisdom of Robert Frost.

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep."

A testament to persistence, this quote embodies the concept that it's always lonely along the extra mile. Sticking in a deal is a remarkably winning trait. You must grit your teeth and boldly hang in there for that ninth month of an enterprise sales cycle on occasion.

"There are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fill you with so much quail shot that you can't move, and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies."

This quote embraces quality enablement. The best managers are firm but kind. They lead by balancing the hand of love with the hand of steel. They understand the only way to fly is to get out of the nest. They coach you weekly to encourage and empower rather than stymie or condescend. ?They resist the temptation to do your job for you.

"There's nothing I'm afraid of like scared people"

It takes positive risk to gain reward. You can't sell fearfully because your prospects will not countenance it. Just as a dog can smell fear, potential customers can smell the insincerity coming from a mile away.

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life. It goes on."

Dust yourself off and try again. The way you handle rejection will define your career. It's not just the optimism you cultivate in boom times but the steely fire in the belly you harness when things are looking grim. Get a good night of sleep and give it your all each day. Know that following a solid process, day in and day out, will yield pay dirt. Chin up!

"Freedom lies in being bold."

You want to challenge your customers' beliefs and embolden them to challenge the status quo. Teach with compelling insight she hasn't seen before. Study the data and find patterns that emerge via unique business intelligence that only you can bring having recently met with so many leading minds in the sector. ?'The Challenger Sale' is a must read in this regard.

"The middle of the road is where the white line is and that's the worst place to drive."

Have a definite opinion. Diagnose and be prescriptive. They're looking for consultation and guidance. You'll develop subject matter expertise in time and then lead the dance. Customize and tailor your pitch and proposal; conversion favors bold creativity and customer success abhors the generic.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."

You'll hear a great deal about the latest craze, that shiny object syndrome. Maybe it's a proclamation that some technology is "dead." Keep your own compass in the field of sales. Experiment and find your voice, seek the methodology that works for you, never eschewing strategies and tactics that are working. Study the classics, the sales pantheon and form your own opinion. Ultimately, you can't sell with someone else's script or style so find the 'mash-up' that works for you.

"The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office."

Get out of the office, out from behind the screen. Walk the halls of your dream clients. Interact, shake hands, shut off your technology and listen; truly listen with warm eye contact. The journey will give you time to think and time to think deeply can help you create a winning strategy. As Steve Jobs would tell you, there's great magic in a walk around the block or the deep woods for that matter. There's a subtle kind of momentum in stepping away from a desk.

"We dance around the ring and suppose, but the secret sits in the middle and knows"

Ultimately, people buy you. The great secret is it's a buying cycle so make it easy for customers to buy. Peel the onion until you find their truth, the pain you can help solve, the opportunity you can help realize. It's typically hiding in plain sight, cleverly disguised by our own tactlessness.


Tony Hughes is ranked as the #1 influencer on professional selling in Asia-Pacific and is a keynote speaker and best selling author. This article was originally published in LinkedIn where you can also follow Tony's award winning blog. Also visit Tony's keynote speaker website at or his sales methodology website at

Main image photo by Flickr: Joe St.Pierre


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