• 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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  • TARZAN & THE ELEPHANTS

    tarzan  & the elephants23My Mum was a funny lady and during my youth, she was constantly throwing riddles at me.

    Some of her riddles came in pairs and the pairs typically had a point.

    One such pair of riddles has been a huge lesson for me as I have gone through life. Here they are.

    Riddle 1: What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants coming down the road? “Here come the elephants.”

    Riddle 2: What did the elephants say when they saw Tarzan coming down the road? Nothing, elephants don’t talk.

    Most people fail to get either answer correct. And despite missing the first question, most people are too proud of their intelligence to say “I don’t know” in answer to the second question. My Mom was making two points. First, she wanted me to realize that some questions are simple, I needed to not over-think things. After all what else would Tarzan have said?

    She also wanted me to understand that answering a question with words I just heard can take me way off track. Just because the question asks about talking elephants does not mean elephants can talk.

    As a sales trainer, I spend my days trying to help salespeople and business owners realize that questions you are asked by prospects are rarely straightforward. The questions that prospects ask come from their world and are based around their current situation, and how your sales team handles these questions is the key to selling success.

    Does your sales team know when to say “I don’t know” and when to say “why do you ask?” These are the keys to keeping sales people out of trouble.

    Typically, our clients tell us that learning to handle their prospects questions is the primary driver of their new found sales success. Handling these prospect questions correctly leads professional sales people to bigger, more focus and, best of all, more qualified chances to make sales.

    Are you ready to help your sales team learn the best way to handle the questions your prospects have?

    Blog Editor

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    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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  • Weasels

    Two weekends ago, I got to take my youngest daughter to a 4-year-old’s birthday party. I’d forgotten how elaborate some of these parties get, and this was a nice reminder. The parents of this little boy had hired an animal trainer to bring some rabbits and let the kids see them.

    The highlight of the show was a weasel that did tricks. I had never seen a trained weasel and so I asked the trainer how he did it. The story he shared was interesting: “I learned a long time ago that the key to weasel training is simply teaching them what they are not allowed to do first, then helping them figure out what they are supposed to do instead.”

    I asked the trainer about his process. Each weasel trick had two elements, a prop, and a sound. To get the weasel to do a trick, the animal simply has to react to the prop when it hears the sound.

    Too often in sales, our clients show up on our doorstep complaining about their prospects who’ve been weasels. They come in saying: they didn’t do what we expected, they misled us, they ignored us, and they lied to us. In other words, their clients have not reacted to a sales call in the way the salesperson wanted. Typically salespeople spend their time blaming the weasel when they should take some time and look at the trainer instead.

    In the sales world, prospects are tough to engage. They have plenty of distractions and, honestly, most sales pitches bore prospects.

    Your prospects have been trained to ignore most of the sounds you make and they are indifferent to the props. But for your sales team to succeed, prospects have to be a part of the show.

    We spend our time helping our clients understand what buyers are looking for, what sounds they react to, and what props have value. We teach our clients a simple rule: You can’t get mad at a prospect for doing something you didn’t tell them they couldn’t do. And we help our clients understand how to better train their prospects to respond right way.

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    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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  • Your Knowledge is Worthless… Until Someone Pays You For It.

    In regards to your business, the expertise you have gained over the years is completely worthless… until someone gives you money for it. If you have a medical doctorate, all you really have is a bunch of student loans until you have patients, and get paid for your knowledge.

    From your potential client’s perspective, John C. Maxwell said, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” They don’t care how great you are until they know you understand the situation and the problem they are experiencing. Your opinion here is worthless to the prospect, mostly because you are just another person trying to sell them.

    What does this mean for you and your business?

    The most common problem associated with this concept is called “Un-Paid Consulting.” This happens when you tell the potential customer everything about how you are going to solve their problem, and they return the favour by shopping out your solution to all your competitors looking for the best price.

    They don’t trust you, yet. You have no commitment from them, so they are free to look around and compare prices on exactly what you offered. Also, they know they have a solution to the problem, so all of their stress is gone and the immediate pain fades away. If all else fails, they can call you back.

    Another common problem is called “Spilling Your Candy.” You could also call it: boring the pants off your prospect. When you share your knowledge before it is needed, you are spilling the candy before anyone can enjoy it.

    What do people love to talk about more than anything else? Themselves. If you are talking about yourself, then the prospect is not getting a chance to do what they love best. If your mouth is moving, you are in trouble already.

    Also, product knowledge can be very intimidating. If you use industry buzz words, you make the prospect feel dumb, bored, or at the very least uninterested, triggering them to leave the conversation.

    What is the solution?

    Wait until you get paid to solve the problem. The goal of business is to go to the bank, not to prove how much you know. You might be asking yourself, how am I supposed to get anyone interested enough to buy without telling them how great or credible we are?

    The answer takes us back to our doctor example. Does a doctor tell you everything he knows about medicine and the types of viruses you might have, and then let you decide which medicine you think will make you better? Or does he ask you some very smart, intuitive questions to narrow down the diagnosis first and then prescribe you the solution?

    Your job as a professional salesperson or business owner is to find people with the type of problems you solve, build trust with expert questions while you diagnose the problem, get a commitment, and then prescribe the solution.

    What problems do people experience when they need your product or service? What kinds of questions could you ask to uncover those problems and their consequences? Create an environment that allows your prospect to discover they need your help, instead of telling them.

    Blog Editor

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    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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  • What’s holding you back from success?

    mike montaguee 1Here is the problem: 99% of people out there are already doing what they think is in their best interest. Of course, there’s the 1% who hate themselves and are self-sabotaging, but for the most part, you are probably doing right now, what you think is best. But why is that a problem?

    Well, if you want to achieve a higher level of success or happiness, no matter your current level, you are going to run into a problem.

     

    David Sandler found three areas where people get stuck in their growth and development:

    • Attitude
    • Behaviour
    • Technique

    If you have plateaued in some area of your life, chances are you have a negative attitude about taking the next step, you don’t know what to do, or you don’t know how to do it.

    And on top of that, most of us don’t know what we don’t know, so we can even find these problems, obstacles or opportunities in our own lives. We have a saying here at Sandler Training: “You can’t read the label from inside the bottle.”

    The first step in reaching higher levels of success is realizing that you are the only thing holding yourself back.

    So the answer for, “What’s holding you back?” It’s YOU!

    • Has the economy or your market taken a down turn?
    • Are your company’s offerings not really unique?
    • Are your customers uneducated & cheap?
    • Are you too comfortable or afraid to fail?

    Guess what? You are the only one responsible for your ultimate success and happiness. Other people are succeeding in this economy. You can always get another job if the company is not right for you. You choose who you call on and how valuable they see you.

    You even choose how you respond to real outside obstacles and challenges. Do you get competitive and motivated when someone is challenging you, or do you give up because it’s too hard? That choice is also yours.

    The second step is to find someone on the outside who can see the real issues.

    This might sound self-serving because it’s what we do, but only a great coach, mentor or trainer from the outside can help you accurately assess yourself and the problems you run into.

    It’s the reason professional athletes have coaches. It is very difficult to assess our own performance, because we already believe we tried our best. It is even more difficult to assess a problem inside our own heads! That is usually where the problem lies in the first place. If we have the right attitude, we will generally figure out what to do or ask someone else. We are also willing to try different techniques until we find something that works.

    Coaches can also help you with those behaviours and techniques, but fixing our head first is really what allows for huge leaps in performance and ultimate success and happiness.

    Blog Editor

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    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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  • Death Trap by Happy Ears

    A common death trap salespeople fall into is having “happy ears,” meaning, they tend to hear what they want to hear. In actuality, what they (salespeople) heard does not reflect the real intent of what the prospect said.

    Sales Tips

    The cure to “happy ears” is to be sceptical, yet nurturing. Your prospect says: “I like what you are saying, and your product is a good fit!” You respond: “I appreciate your kind words. When you say ‘good fit,’ what exactly do you mean?” This is a reversing technique that will show you the difference between nice platitudes and an actual sale. Never presume that the signals are positive—always verify.

    It is the salesperson’s responsibility to:

    • Determine the prospect’s intentions and expectations.
    • Help the prospect be more specific and define any ambiguous terms or phrase that may be misinterpreted.
    • Tie up any loose ends.
    • Make sure all parties to a conversation or meeting are in sync with what transpired and what is supposed to happen next.

    Make it a practice to recap the conversation after interactions with the prospect or clients: “Let me quickly recap what we discussed to make sure we’re all on the same page and we didn’t leave anything out.” Then, review the conversation and ask, “Does anyone have anything to add, or..did I miss anything?”

    Eliminating potential misunderstandings today reduces the opportunity for unfulfilled expectations tomorrow. Make it a habit to prevent yourself from experiencing “happy ears.” If you do and you become disappointed, just remember Sandler Rule #30: “You Can’t Lose Anything You Don’t Already Have.”

    Blog Editor

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    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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  • Frickin’ Elephants Help Effective Communication

    When it comes to good communication it’s not so much about sending the right message as it is getting the right response. The right message assumes you and the other person will respond in the same way. A person’s understanding shows up before you do, and that is the reality of the message you send. It’s not what you say; it’s what people hear. And, while you might not be able to control what people see or hear, you can do a better job trying to anticipate it.

    I heard a story about a grandpa helping his four-year-old grandson learn to read. The boy pointed to a picture in a zoo book and said, “Look, Grandpa! It’s a frickin’ elephant.” The grandpa took a deep breath and asked, “What did you call it?”

    His grandson repeated himself.

    “It’s a frickin’ elephant, Grandpa! It says so on the picture!”

    And, so it did. When the grandpa looked down at the picture, it read,

    “A F R I C A N Elephant.”

    It’s not what you say; It’s what people hear

    When looking at your marketing materials it’s important to ask serious questions about the message that’s being portrayed to those that will see  them.  Here’s 4 quick pointer questions for you to consider.

    • Does this support or compete with the intended experience for your audience?
    • Does this marketing material help accomplish the desired objective or not?
    • Does it have potential to attract or repel?
    • Does it add to or take away credibility?

    When it comes to your website or marketing material you only have 3 seconds to communicate that right message to your visitors, that’s less time than  it takes to read this sentence.

    What’s your message and how is it being heard?

    Do you think about what you might say will be taken by others and how it might affect them or do you just think about what you have to say and go and do it?

    I wonder what open and candid feedback you might get if you were to show your communications (whether it be your website, newsletters to clients or internal messages) to others before sending them? Would the feedback you get back match that of the desired goal of the communication?

    Is the communication you’re sending actually opening doors rather than closing them?

  • Refine Your Sales Process with a Sales Template

    Refine your sales processA sales template is defined as the step by step set of interactions you want your prospect to go through because it will give you a clear competitive advantage or otherwise increase the chances of you winning the business. An efficient sale system enables you to consistently achieve a desired outcome or set of outcomes without wasting time, energy, money etc. The most effective sales templates are basic enough to accommodate for change (focused on each stage of the sales meeting). Having critical reviews of each step is important because it takes out the guess work and decreases the time of reinventing the process.

    Ways to develop your sales template:

    1. Develop a flow chart of your sales process (make the chart dynamic with options).
    2. Get specific – develop the script and questions to ask your prospect during each phase. Use the Sandler Submarine as a guide.
    3. Establish an internal and external sales template. Internal: used only within the organisation and external: detailing your process to the prospect. By doing so, it keeps all parties involved on the same page during the process.

    Still think it’s painful to sit down and establish a sales template for your business? Remember the Sandler Philosophy:

    1. Professional Selling is a noble profession. Do not let the prospect treat you with disrespect.
    2. Be sure to understand the prospect’s issue, budget and decision process before you try to convince them of anything.
    3. Help the prospect discover the real Pain and that you are the solution.

    Armed with the reasons to establish a sales template, the ways to go about doing so along with the reasons behind the why, are we at Sandler Training charge you to take action! Start and complete your sales template. Go as far as implementing and adapting your sales template until you establish a sales process that works well for you and your organization.

    You can follow the prospect’s plan and feed your ego. Or, you can follow your own plans and feed your family, but you can’t do both. The choice is yours.”

    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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  • Why Negative Prospects Are Your Best Prospects and Positive Prospects Are Your Worst

    “Look for buying signals” I was told by most of my bosses in my early sales career. “Look for signs that they’re positive”.  Based on that advice I should have retied in my early 20’s instead of being up to my eyeballs in debt. I was afraid I was going to get fired every Monday morning as we relayed our forecast to the assembled team and our manager.

    I was a very hard worker, usually first in and last out. I researched my prospects’ companies, their markets, the competition and did a pretty good presentation. I regularly received compliments for the thoroughness of my research, commendations for my insights and ideas, and positive, reassuring statements like, “I’m impressed Marcus. You’ve clearly thought a lot about this. Thank you. You’ve given me some great ideas which I really like. Can you do me a favour and put it all into a proposal?”

    I was chuffed to bits when I heard things like that. I dashed back to the office, reported in to my boss that we’d had a really good meeting and spent the next day or so knocking up a work of genius in the form of a proposal that was tantamount to a blueprint on how they could address their issues using our services. I’d print it off, often multiple copies, bind it up, produce a snazzy cover (very important) and put a protective plastic cover over the top and post it first class. Then I’d wait a couple of days to make sure it had time to get there. I’d follow up with a call to make sure they’d got it. “It looks great. Marcus, give me a few days to read it through and talk it over with my boss” were words that sent me into elation. I hung up, reported to my boss what had just been said, s/he was happy and Monday came, I forecast it as 50% or higher depending on how positive the prospect had been … then I followed up.

    At this point they were usually involved in some kind of kinky act (tied up) or had been abducted by aliens since every effort I made to get feedback was met with a gatekeeper telling me the medium cheese I was chasing was not available. Six, 12, even 20 chaser calls went in until eventually Mr Abductee picked up when i called after Betty had gone home. “Marcus, there was nothing wrong with your proposal. The timing just isn’t right / my boss said no / our current supplier said they could do it cheaper etc” and all my hard work went up in smoke in my mind. I said some pretty rum things about them once I hung up (for which I am truly sorry), I worried I’d be for the axe as I needed that sale to make my target.

    What I find most galling is it took me 17 years to work out that my need for the approval of strangers and my belief that I should do whatever the customer asked me to, to make them happy was utter nonsense and misguided in the extreme.

    Every now and again, I came across a truly terrifying prospect. Usually the MD or CEO. He took no nonsense. He wasn’t interested in my presentation. He gave me a hard time, questioned everything, asked really tough questions and made decisions on the spot without needing a proposal, just an invoice. Many told me “no”, but they did so quickly and without hesitation or prevarication. I was in and out of their office fast with a qualified decision.

    What did it take me 17 years to learn?

    Beware the positive prospect. They usually have no money, no authority and want to know what I know but don’t want to pay me for it. Welcome the negative prospect. They’re negative because they’re busy, don’t want to make a bad decision, have money to spend and make decisions quickly and without playing games or trying to steal what I know.

    Are you a slow learner too? why not talk to your local Sandler trainer. They’ll listen and teach you some good habits.