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Enterprise Excellence Episode #22

Excellence in Sales - 4 key elements for success with Donald C Kelly


Welcome to episode 22 of the Enterprise Excellence Podcast. I am so pleased to have Mr Donald C Kelly on the show today. Donald has focused his career on learning and sharing best practices in sales. He is the host of the popular Sales Evangelist Podcast that focuses on all topics relevant to sales excellence. Donald is genuinely focused on helping people create a better future by engaging and helping their customers. Let's get into the episode.


Donald grew up in Jamaica. Life was tough, and very much a way of life was to create your own business: everybody works in a shop. Donald started his own business at a young age, making and selling cookies in front of his house. It progressed to candy in his teens, and ventures during spring and summer school to make some money. He believes that if you want something and have a strong desire, you will find a way to make it happen. Post-college, Donald moved into B-B (business to business) sales and then began his podcast: The Sales Evangelist Podcast.

Donald is an expert in sales and supports organisations all over the world to grow and develop. He is passionate about sales and loves understanding customers and helping them improve their sales skills. He loves to see the growth that a frontline salesperson can make, thinking of no revenue, to low revenue to more! The drive towards helping people, but also to the win that sales can bring.

If a salesperson does not have a purpose, Donald believes they cannot achieve excellence in sales. Most sellers just wing it. Having a forward-thinking goal is critical for every salesperson and should be greater than just hitting this year's quota. It needs to go further. He gives the example of not only making the Olympics but winning a gold medal at the Olympics. In sales, the goal may be to surpass my quota and help my clients to have success.

Donald speaks about his 3-5 year vision. Currently, Donald offers sales training, customised training programs and consulting. To scale his organisation into the future, he believes they need to adjust their offerings considering technology advantages. He sees that virtual reality is already starting to happen and is investigating capabilities in augmented reality and AI.

Donald has been doing a lot of work on salesperson mindset. He told the following native American tale.

An old Cherokee grandpa is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego."

He continued, "The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Donald believes that our mindset in business and sales is fundamental. The thoughts we feed (which wolf) is what will create our reality. Donald mentioned cognitive bias and the fact that our mind will start to seek out ideas that support our thoughts. This process feeds our prejudice and our attitude, which ultimately impacts our behaviour and results. It is essential to feed the right mindset, the right thoughts, like focusing on our goals and our capabilities. The whole organisation should be running like a lean, mean running machine. It is not just sales alone; the ultimate outcome for everyone in an organisation is to generate profit.

Unfortunately, sales experts are often elevated into management. Often these leaders are expected to sell as well as lead, motivate and inspire their team. Donald mentions Magic Johnson, who was a fantastic basketballer, but not an effective coach.

Successful sales leaders need to develop the right mindset: deeply understand their purpose and help their team build their vision and goals. They do not continue to sell at a high level themselves but inspire and motivate their sellers to achieve their goals. They provide one on one coaching to help salespeople grow. An effective sales team will have a game plan and process that they practice and follow to achieve greatness.

Donald gave an example of the Chicago Bulls. Sure, Michael Jordan was a star player. But it wasn't until Phil Jackson became the coach, implemented a 'game plan', a process, and brought in the right players on the team that they won the cup multiple times.

Getting back to the sales mindset program, Donald teaches about creative sub-consciousness and how it works. Your creative subconscious puts into place whatever you hold in your subconscious. It will help you be at the level you believe or feel you need to be. Donald believes in self-analysing to find who you want to be and start focussing on developing that. Your creative subconscious will help you become the person who you want to be.

Donald is currently finalising a book "Sell Like A mango" covering many of these topics.


Website: (Personal Website) - you can download information and guides here.

Key takeaways

1. Challenging vision and goal

I've heard that throughout so many of the episodes that I've recorded on this Podcast, with guests like Jeff Liker, Peter Hines, Jeff Sutherland. It's the importance of everyone having a challenging vision and goal to strive towards, and a purpose to it. A bigger reason: why are we going after that? It seems that this is a common element for achieving excellence as an individual, but also for an organisation.

2. Mindset – which wolf do you feed?

In enterprise excellence, I always believe that attitude drives behaviour, which leads to your results. Donald spoke so much about the concept of mindset and which wolf do you feed? Do you feed that wolf that is driving you towards your goal and vision, and helping you improve and getting better? Or you're feeding that wolf of doubt and fear, and anxiety that is leading you to fail. It’s such an important concept and I think it's something that we can all takeaway from.

3. Process & leadership coaching

These two key elements really help people achieve greatness no matter where they perform. Whether it be sport, whether its sales, whether it's operations, finance, people in culture/HR. To me, process provides that framework. If the teams had a play in developing this, or have been trained in that extensively, and then the leader is able to coach and support, and even peer-to-peer support and coaching can really help someone become excellent at that approach and game plan.

It's the same in sport: it's the same in business. It's such as amazing thing to consider. It really helps so many organisations. And especially in sales, I do see that it's lacking often. There is more that 'lone wolf true artform' approach. But whereas I believe, like Donald, is that if you bring the knowledge of the team together and build a framework, build on the journey of buying that your customer would like to go through, you'll really have something to deliver great results to customers. Train and develop people and get people delivering results quicker once you bring them on. I've seen changes from, with some sales teams where it would take them 6 months to a year to get someone up to be selling effectively. But once they implement a customer aligned sales process or framework, with good leadership coaching, they can someone up in 2-4 weeks. It's dramatic changes.

So, thank you Donald for helping us to create a better future through your knowledge in sales and business in general.


05:05min usually we have a fallback. Right? If we don't do this, then what's the worse that will happen? And sometimes we have a cushy, we have a bonus, or it could be a cushy bonus or salary that we're following. But if you want to really thrive though, you just need to break past, and look beyond the base, and look towards accomplishing bigger goals and set your vision high. And recognising "I don't' have a fallback if this doesn't happen", and that pushes you.

11.21min a person trying to do excellence in sales is not like, "I want to take my quota". "I want to surpass my quota and help clients have great success", so going beyond that.

17:10min you're going to have good days; you're going to have bad days. And I personally feel that sales is so psychological. Like so much of this thing, it's, like, mental.

18:28min 'cause our brain doesn't know anything from what's true or not. It's just like taking off the data. We feed it.

24:35min sometimes a leader doesn't have to be a great seller. And in that capacity, that they just need to be able to understand how to inspire and motivate the seller to accomplish the seller's goal, not necessarily just the organisation's goals.

29:48min It goes to show that any organisation with the right leadership, with the right processes, can do amazing things.

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