April 2017 began with the loss of the Han Solo of my sales career, Danny Quintiliani. He passed away peacefully surrounded by loved ones. Why was he my Han Solo versus Yoda or Obi-Wan Kenobi, you may ask? Many mentors impart wisdom and knowledge like Yoda and Obi-Wan, but Danny (aka Han Solo) was scrappy. He didn't teach me how to use "the force", but he did teach me how to maneuver within the (sales) galaxy so I didn't get blown to pieces.

While working with Danny, I learned many valuable lessons that I've followed throughout my sales career. With his recent passing, I feel it is my turn to pass his knowledge on to you to become a smarter, more successful salesperson. More than 25 years ago, as a new sales representative, I learned the following three lessons from Danny, my mentor and my Han Solo of sales.

1) Don't get cocky

I remember sitting in a staff meeting as a new sales rep anxiously awaiting my quota for the year. Watching my boss feverishly pound at the calculator, scan through the reports and come up with each individual quota was exhausting. But when I received my $25M quota, the highest on the team, I was thrilled. To me, that $25M quota meant I had arrived and that I was just as good as the seasoned reps in the office, although I had only been there two weeks.

With all the sales training manuals I could carry, I set out to crush my quota... only to be crushed in the process. My numbers, or lack thereof, were terrible. I didn't come anywhere close to hitting my quota. Frustrated and confused I went to Danny for advice and instead of belittling me, he taught me lesson number two.

2) Unlearn everything you've learned

As a rookie in sales I was laser-focused on following all the steps outlined in my sales training manuals. I could uncover the need, handle objections, lay out our company's features and benefits, and ask for the sale like a pro. Why then no sales? As Danny said to me, in a very Han Solo type of way, "Your sales techniques are solid but you're missing the most important ingredient - trust. People will only buy from you if they like you, trust you and believe you have their best interest in mind."

3) Do or do not, there is no try

Like having heard Yoda's words of wisdom, I was armed with this new knowledge that sales is about building relationships, understanding a buyer's problem and finding solutions. I made the necessary adjustments, put in the hard work and ended that first year crushing my $25M quota.

Fortunately, I was able to reconnect with Danny a few weeks before his passing. I told him how much I loved him and thanked him for having such a positive impact on my career. I hope these valuable lessons can also teach you how to maneuver through obstacles and meet the sales goals you set out to crush.

Did you have a mentor when you first started your career? Feel free to share in the comments below.