• Practice Makes Perfect

    Salespeople invest time developing their pitch, formulating questions, and preparing responses to expected questions and objections from the prospect. They rehearse, refine, and rehearse some more.

    Unfortunately, for some salespeople, the preparation becomes a roadblock to their success. How? The salesperson meets with the prospect and delivers his well-crafted well-rehearsed message. But, instead of paying attention to the prospect’s reactions, he is running through a mental checklist of important points to cover. He misses the look of puzzlement on the prospect’s face. He doesn’t notice the prospect casually glancing at phone messages.

    At a strategic point in the presentation, the salesperson asks one of the pre-planned “commitment” questions. Again, instead of focusing all his attention on the prospect’s answer, he is thinking about his response to an anticipated stall or objection. The meeting ends with the prospect promising to give the presentation some thought.

    The salesperson considers the meeting a waste of time and blames the prospect for not paying attention…and not recognizing the obvious value he presented. He was so concerned about delivering his message as he rehearsed it, he missed the expression of scepticism on the prospect’s face. He never recognized the point when the prospect lost interest. He never had a chance to recover.

    It’s OK to plan and rehearse your meeting. Practice, practice, practice until you have internalized the message you want to get across and the information you need to obtain – then let go. Sales meetings rarely go as imagined. After all, the prospect isn’t working from a script…and neither should you. If you’ve thoroughly internalized the information, you won’t have to worry about delivering it in a structured manner.

    You can direct your attention to your prospect and let the information flow based on the prospect’s interest and reactions.

     

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

    Lisette Howlett edits the Sandler UK blog. If you have any questions or would like to submit a blog please contact her. Tel: 020 7484 5556 Email: Lisette.howlett@sandler.com

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  • Old Clients New Business

    Old Clients new businessA mistake too many salespeople make is not keeping in touch with former clients. It’s not uncommon for past clients to come to a point where they need your product or service again but don’t remember how to get in touch with you. They are more likely to have your competitors’ information handy.

    (Your competitors are still calling on your client even though you are not).

    The odds of obtaining business from a former client are typically better than the odds of obtaining business from cold prospecting. So, keeping in touch with former clients is not only the professional thing to do, it also makes good business sense to ensure you are always a call away from old clients if they need your service again

    “Keeping in touch” doesn’t mean pestering them – pushing for a sale. It simply means letting them know that you are still there, ready to provide service when necessary. This can be accomplished in various ways: a regularly scheduled phone call – just to say “hello;” a monthly or quarterly newsletter about industry events and trends; or a monthly e-mail regarding new products or services. Don’t try to overwhelm your client; just make it easy for them to find you.

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

    Lisette Howlett edits the Sandler UK blog. If you have any questions or would like to submit a blog please contact her. Tel: 020 7484 5556 Email: Lisette.howlett@sandler.com

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  • 7 Mistakes that Kill Sales Presentations & Free Talks

    sleep disorderBuilding a sales pipeline or broadening prospecting activity for many of us uncovers speaking opportunities in front of potential prospects. Here are 7 reasons why some SalesAmbassadors can unknowingly induce blind hatred & venom from even the gentlest, mildest mannered supporters

    Most of us use presentation time as an opportunity to impress. Once in full flight however, some people’s brains miraculously camouflage the looks of hate, sleepiness and disregard in their captives, replacing them with faces awash with wonder and awe. It can be the only explanation why the worst offenders can sleep at night.

    Here’s the 7 most hated offences voted for by over 50 clients, experienced in networking events throughout Beds, Bucks & Herts. Some are surprising:

    • The speaker doesn’t OWN the material. “These aren’t my slides but…..”.
      • True possibly but doesn’t make it right. Do what you need to and own your talk.
    • Colourless, dry, insipid, lacklustre, tedious, uninspired, vapid & wearisome.
      • Words drawn up whilst a decent pensions talk was being slaughtered. ‘Get a life!’ ‘Have more Sex!’ ‘Adopt a Canary'; but do something to invigorate yourself. Tonality and body language make up most of communication. If your soul has died, your presentation’s fried.
    • A ‘Pitch’ that’s irrelevant to me.
      • Listeners make an instant choice. ‘Are you relevant or not?’ A talk that’s self centred (clue, does it list your features & benefits?) pushes prospects away. Wrap topics into relatable, immersive, memorable stories and it will make you relevant every time.
    • ‘Time travel’, the miracle of compressing 120mins content into 15.
      • Epilepsy inducing PowerPoint is hypnotic. It’s the way Zombies are created. One or two key points offered properly gets you invited back.
    • Reading out the words on their own slides.
      • We read quicker than most people speak (hopefully). Props? Flipchart? A picture?
    • Too quiet? Too fast or eating dry biscuits?
      • Rule #1 Make sure you enunciate appropriately to everyone in the room
    • Overrunning the allotted time
      • Organisers LOVE speakers who keep to time. The only reason outside of poor preparation for over running is to massage under inflated, unappreciated egos. Unless of course the crowd is chanting for more?

    There’s more I’m sure, what are your worst experiences? Interestingly nerves and inexperience wasn’t mentioned by anyone.

    Speaking engagements are an effective way to prospect for new business. Just like a sales call, in 2016 leave ‘winging it’ for the birds as it’s the fastest way to blow all that effort and send prospects straight into the arms of your competitors.

    Chris Davies

    Chris Davies

    Chris Davies has spent over 35 years in both sales and leadership environments with companies such as Sony, Toshiba, IBM and others. Observing first-hand the declining effects of traditional, much copied selling methodologies. Typically, Chris works with business leaders, partners and top producers who are ready to work smarter and commit their time, money and energy to attract new clients, sell more products or services and generate more profits with integrity. Tel: 01525 280777 Mobile: 07891 055925

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  • The power of Mind-set

    Your mind-set has more to do with your success than almost any other single element. There are plenty of salespeople who possess extensive product knowledge, have numerous influential business contacts, are well-spoken and have appealing personalities, yet their sale performances are average…sometimes, only marginally acceptable.

    Then, there are salespeople who have just enough product knowledge to get by, have a few business contacts, don’t always articulate their thoughts in the most artful manner and don’t have particularly sparkling personalities, yet their sales performances rank in the top ten percent.

    How can that be?

    Success in sales, or almost any endeavour, is not simply a product of one’s talent, education, personality, or contacts (although, those elements surely help), but rather the result of one’s attitude – the natural tendency to have a positive outlook and maintain positive expectations.

    But, it’s more than just being able to see the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. It’s the ability to see possibilities…coupled with the resolve to take the required actions to turn those possibilities into realities.

    Some people will view a challenge, and after analysing the positive and negative aspects of it, choose to focus on the positive. They see possibilities and envision success. The more they focus on the positive aspects, the stronger their belief grows about their ability to successfully meet the challenge. And, the stronger their belief grows, the more resolute is their judgment to take the actions necessary to achieve their goals. They press on, regardless…and they succeed.

    Others will view the same challenge and focus on the negative aspects – all the reasons (real and imagined) that the challenge can’t be met successfully. They only see limitations and envision the only failure. The more they focus on the negative aspects, the stronger their beliefs grow about the improbability of successfully meeting the challenge and the futility of investing any effort in its pursuit. They give up, or at best, make a half-hearted effort…and they don’t succeed.

    Your success is nothing more (or less) than what you envision it to be, and your determination to act in a manner consistent with that picture. If success has eluded you thus far, perhaps it’s time to change your picture and then press on.

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

    Lisette Howlett edits the Sandler UK blog. If you have any questions or would like to submit a blog please contact her. Tel: 020 7484 5556 Email: Lisette.howlett@sandler.com

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  • Do your clients see your sales people as
 Trusted Advisors?

    trustWant to get you or your people more effective at selling?  Check how consistently you/they are following steps 1-3. Even small improvements in any of these can help establish you as Trusted Advisor early on in sales conversations

    1 Gather more information than you give

    Or listen more than you talk. Ideally your prospective client should be talking 70% of the time and you 30%. How can we do that?   By asking questions, really listening to the answers and probing the answers in more detail.

    I profile a lot of people who sell (sales people, business owners, professional services) and one of the behaviours I look at is how effective they are at listening. On a scale of 1-9 (1 being low, 9 being high) the vast majority of people score between 2-4.  Even if we think we are listening, are we really?  Or are we listening some of the time, sometimes getting distracted by our own thoughts and mentally preparing the things we want to say?

    There are a lot of very smart questions we could be asking, but often the simpler ones are just, if not more, effective.

    Can you be more specific?  Could you give me an example?  Which means…? And what impact does that have?

    The advantage of asking lots of questions, not talking much and listening well is that it stops us talking too much (too soon) about us, how wonderful we are and how we can solve their problem. Instead it means we can gather information on pains, their budget and decision-making process to work out how real an opportunity this is before talking about us.

    2 Be challenging

    This is not about being awkward, or challenging just for the sake of it. I see our role as a Trusted Advisor to get to the crux of the clients issues and sometimes we need to help our prospective clients work that out too, which ties back to tip 1.

    Trusted Advisors ask tough questions that make their prospects think differently about their situation.  Equally they are prepared to have tough conversations if necessary – if you don’t think what the prospective client is asking for is in their best interests I believe its better to tell them rather than avoiding it.

    3 Be prepared to say no

    Honesty and selling don’t often appear in the same sentence, but if we want to be seen as a Trusted Advisor then that means we have to give our prospective clients the truth, rather than what they want to hear.

    If you are not best placed to help them for whatever reason I think it’s far more powerful to say that and refer them to someone else if you can. In my experience they will really respect you for that and as a result are more likely to come back to you further down the line.

    Caroline Robinson

    Caroline Robinson

    Caroline Robinson is Director of Sandler Training based in Cambridge, working with fast-growing companies who are ambitious about taking their business to the next level. Tel: 01223 882581 Mobile: 07739 344 751

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  • No Mind Reading

    No Mind readingDoes this sound familiar to you?

    Prospect A says, “This looks very good. I think there’s an excellent chance we’ll do business.” The salesperson thinks, “I’ve got one.”

    Prospect B comments, “Your price is higher than we expected.” The salesperson thinks, “I’ll have to cut the price to close the deal.”

    Prospect C reveals, “We were hoping for a shorter delivery time.” The salesperson thinks, “I’ll have to push this through as a rush order to get the sale.”

    The salesperson’s thinking may appear to be appropriate, but is it? Or, is the salesperson guilty of “mind reading” – assuming facts not in evidence and misreading between the lines.

    In the case of prospect A, what is an excellent chance? And, when will the prospect stop thinking about it and take action?

    Was prospect B’s comment a request for a price reduction or was it merely out-loud thinking about the need to increase the budget projections? Was prospect C’s hope for a shorter delivery time actually a demand? There is no way to tell without asking for clarification.

    When a prospect uses words or phrases that are vague, ask for an explanation. It would be appropriate for the salesperson to ask prospect A what “excellent chance” means. A suitable response to prospect B’s “price is higher…” comment would be, “And, you’re telling me that because…?”

    Don’t jump to conclusions. Get the facts.

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

    Lisette Howlett edits the Sandler UK blog. If you have any questions or would like to submit a blog please contact her. Tel: 020 7484 5556 Email: Lisette.howlett@sandler.com

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  • Are you a victim of FUTON failure?

    Here’s a question for you: have you ever met someone at a networking event who had something you were interested in but they failed to follow you up?

    

My guess is probably yes.



    It’s what’s referred to as FUTON failure – or failure to follow up thoroughly on networking.

    There’s a big lesson here for all of us.

    As business owners, we can never be good enough at following up with our prospects.
 – we can’t afford to make the huge, costly mistake of not following up, because one way or another we pay good money to generate leads and if we let them disappear without them becoming customers, then it’s money we’ve wasted.

    And just in case you have any doubts about how important this is, here are some frightening statistics:

    • 47% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
    • 23% of sales people make a second contact and stop
    • 
16% of sales people only make three contacts and stop

    It’s staggering, but only 14% of businesses make more than three contacts – and ultimately they’re losing a fortune.

    Because…

    • 2% of sales are made on the first contact
    • 
3% of sales are made on the second contact
    • 5% of sales are made on the third contact
    • 12% of sales are made on the fourth contact
    • 
78% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact

    So if you’re like almost half of all businesses and make no more than one follow-up to your prospects… you’re leaving 98% of your income on the table for someone else to come along and suck up.

    By following up thoroughly on networking  – and indeed all your prospecting activity – you’ll drive more sales on a more consistent basis.

  • Selling the legal profession

    Are lawyers also salespeople? Selling the legal

    If you asked one of them directly, they’d likely scrunch up their face as if they’d just heard an awful verdict from the bench.

    But the truth is in this day and age the legal profession is as competitive as any other (if not more so) for new business. Why do you think that every non-profit board contains, at least, one lawyer? It’s likely just not out of the goodness of their collective hearts.

    So why do many lawyers and firms resist the idea of sales training to get an advantage over their competition? Especially when their industry and its marketing is so tightly regulated and scrutinized?

    Maybe it’s the word “sales” itself? In many cases, law firms and their partners just can’t get past the “head trash” of thinking of themselves as salespeople using “sales techniques” to get new business. Perhaps, they think to themselves “after all the hard work in law school and as an associate, now I’m just a salesperson?”

    The truth is the future of their firms and their livelihood is based on their ability to acquire and form lasting relationships. While they might not want to view it as “selling” it does include basic sales and Sandler principles including referrals, networking and yes even direct prospecting.

    We need to help lawyers reframe the way they think so they can get comfortable with the idea. Instead of sales they might be more comfortable with the idea of developing relationships.

    In either case, the Sandler Rules apply.

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

    Lisette Howlett edits the Sandler UK blog. If you have any questions or would like to submit a blog please contact her. Tel: 020 7484 5556 Email: Lisette.howlett@sandler.com

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  • The Key To Success In a Sale: The Agenda

    the agendaYour meeting date and time has been established.  You’re confident your product or service is superior to your competitors.  Your goal for the meeting is to convince the prospect. You’ve planned to be there for 45 minutes.

    The prospect checks their calendar and realizes a few minutes before that, they’ve scheduled a meeting with some salesperson and they’re not sure of the relevance today.  They’re wondering why they agreed to the meeting and plan to make it short.  They’ll ask a few questions, get a brochure or sample and usher the salesperson out the door saying “they’ll get back” to them. Fifteen minutes maximum and they’ll be able to get back to what’s important in their day.

    It’s apparent from the two scenarios that the salesperson and the prospect each have a different agenda.  Can you imagine what the outcome of the meeting will be?  Have you ever found yourself wondering why there are two different agendas for the same meeting?  Did you both agree to the same thing?

    Let’s diagnose where things may have gone wrong.

    1. The appointment was scheduled without a clear intention of what each side was hoping to accomplish.
    2. The amount of time allocated to meet was not established or may have been, however has now changed on the prospect’s side.
    3. The real purpose of the meeting was unclear.
    4. An agreed upon outcome was not discussed prior to the meeting.

    In other words, it’s like showing up at the dentist for a cleaning and he’s ready to perform a root canal.

    The Sandler Selling System refers to the concept of establishing an agenda for every interaction with a prospect as an Up-Front Contract.  It means prior to the meeting knowing what both parties are planning to accomplish in the time they are together.  A mutually agreed outcome is established.

    Following are the components of an agenda:

    1. Establish a mutually agreed purpose for the call or meeting.
    2. Find out what’s important for the prospect.  What are they hoping to achieve in the time you’re together.
    3. Share with the prospect what you as a salesperson would like to accomplish on the phone or in the meeting.
    4. Agree to a specific time you’ll spend together and reconfirm when you arrive at the meeting.
    5. Determine at the beginning of the meeting or telephone conversation what you both mutually agree will happen at the conclusion of your time together.

    Establish on the phone what will happen at the meeting and once at the meeting, reiterate what you both agreed to.  This gives the prospect the opportunity to share any changes that may have to be made such as now only having 30 minutes vs the originally planned 45 minutes.  You can adjust your meeting accordingly or reschedule if desired.

    Just like being in the dentist’s chair, you don’t want any surprises when you are face-to-face with a prospect.  Being disarmingly honest with the prospect and letting them know up-front what is going to happen in the time you’re together will save time, eliminate the prospect from giving you a vague response as to what happens next and it will move the selling process forward or conclude there isn’t a fit for your product or services.  And set another up-front contract at the meeting as to what happens next.

    What will you do prior to your next call or meeting?

    Mutually agreeing to what happens every step of the way ensures that you aren’t surprised at the outcome.

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

    Lisette Howlett edits the Sandler UK blog. If you have any questions or would like to submit a blog please contact her. Tel: 020 7484 5556 Email: Lisette.howlett@sandler.com

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  • Active prospecting? You are joking!

    Now this might sound outrageous, particularly from Sandler Training, but let’s be honest…active prospecting does not work. Or at least it is highly inefficient. The worst culprit is “cold calling”. I mean, it is so much better to have qualified incoming leads just ready to buy than wasting inordinate amounts of time pestering people who then hide behind voicemail.

    Let’s work this out. How many dials do you need (real world) to get to speak to anybody? And then, how often are you getting the runaround? Even if you get an appointment they are unlikely to be ready to buy. Cold calling! Soul destroying stuff! And sales time can be so much more efficiently used.

    What about networking, asking for referrals, attending seminars, giving free talks, exhibiting? Well, actually they are pretty much nearly the same waste of effort. Huge amounts of effort required for almost no leads.

    So all active prospecting in effect does not work…until it does.

    Think of your largest income producing client. Not that one, the one that actually did come from active prospecting. Now, if you knew and knew for absolute certain you would get that client from doing that kind of prospecting, how much effort would you have been prepared to put in? My guess the answer is way more than the effort you actually did put in. So suddenly that time-consuming agony was worth it.

    But how can you be sure that doing more of that same activity will produce another fabulous client like that? Well obviously you cannot be sure. In the same way you cannot be sure of any prospecting activity. Until it works.

    Could you have got that client we are thinking of through incoming lead generation? Perhaps. Probably not.

    So the only way to be at least partly in control of our destiny in business is to do prospecting. Loads of it. As many different kinds of activity as makes sense (usually 3-5 different prospecting activity types is manageable). It is only with a long enough timescale that we can be sure that a certain prospecting activity is a waste of time. And even then we could have stopped just a couple of dials short of our ideal, dream prospect. Commit yourself to some hard work, doing stuff you would rather not do. After all, they say that if you claim to like cold calling you are either lying or never done it.

    Sandler has a rule

    “You never have to like prospecting; you just have to do it.”

    Paul Glynn

    Paul Glynn

    Paul’s experience spans over twenty years of selling, sales management and training. He has worked in the financial services sector including accountancy and has been responsible for the commercial success of sales departments at director level in advertising. His clients report up to 300% increase in turnover by working with him. He is dedicated to helping businesses grow through assessments, training, coaching and mentoring. Tel: 01784 390623 Mobile: 07866 518848

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