• How to make a slight edge that makes all the difference

    Most salespeople I talk to tell me that they are great with people and that bonding and rapport is something they have nailed. It doesn’t cause them any problems. But is it really that straight-forward?

    If we accept that bonding and rapport is about quickly establishing and maintaining trust, what might happen if we aren’t doing this effectively?

    • Prolong and complicate the sales process – prospect may ask for additional steps to get more evidence that you are the right solution, could include wanting to see what other work you have done in their industry, referrals from your clients
    • Prospects may challenge us more, raising more questions and objections, including price
    • Unequal business status, could lead to prospects wasting our time, getting think it over’s

    Any of these ever happen to you?  Could it be that better bonding and rapport might make them happen less often?

    Most people think that of bonding and rapport as small talk, but effective bonding and rapport goes a lot further, after all not everyone likes small talk.  Adapting our style through matching and mirroring allows us to meet the prospect’s needs as people like and trust people who are like themselves.

    To be good at bonding and rapport we need to be highly attuned observers, using active listening and awareness to understand our prospects style so we can adapt accordingly.

    There are three key areas to focus on during matching and mirroring.

    1. Communication style
    2. Core motivators
    3. Decision-making style

    Communication style

    The most obvious area to be aware of.  How are they speaking?  Fast or slow, detailed or big picture, direct or more wordy?  Adapt from your natural style to mirror this – easy when they are similar to us, harder when they are an opposite style.

    Core Motivators

    What’s important to them?  What are they talking most about? Other people or themselves, results or the process to get the results, their attitude to risk.   Whatever it is we can then adjust our messages so we are focusing only on what is important to them.

    Decision-making style

    You can get clues to this from assessing their communication style. Do they make quick, gut-instinct decisions or are they more evidence-based, slower decision-makers?  How can you adjust your approach accordingly?  For example if your process is one call close, if your prospect is an evidence-based decision-maker you either have to accept that it may take longer, or adjust how you deliver information to enable them to make a quick decision.

    So next time you are in front of a prospect try taking your observations up a level and constantly be adjusting your style, language and approach to be more like them.  Unless of course gaining a slight edge isn’t important to you.

    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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  • Ever made a poor hiring decision?

    Is hiring new sales staff the Sales Leaders most important role?

    Have you ever calculated the cost of a failed sales recruitment? Recent studies have calculated the direct cost at between £50k – £150k dependent on industry and level of seniority. Though total cost including management time and wasted sales support time is greater still. For most businesses this is a staggering amount of money.

    With these types of figures at risk you would expect the recruitment process to be highly structured and controlled. The reality, in most cases, is that sales recruitment is a pretty ad hoc process relying more on luck and gut feel than science.

    Gut feel should not be underestimated, every time I have over ridden my gut feel over the years I have later regretted it, but maybe a combination of a structured approach and gut feel is even better.

    We would suggest that a 5 step approach should be adopted:

    1) Preparation – keep a file of possible recruits – people who you meet or who are recommended. Get in the habit of asking for recommendations. Ask for names of competitor’s sales people who beat you on deals. Ask current staff for names of ex colleagues. Not only will your quality of prospective recruits be better you may save money on recruitment agency fees when the time comes to look for new staff.
    2) Hiring Template – Decide what mix of skills and experience you need as minimum and preferred level. Think about the importance of soft issues such as determination and resilience.  Think about whether a less experienced, more hungry salesperson who can be taught is better for you than a more experienced, more conventional hire? What type of personality would fit best within your culture – a team player or a lone wolf? Do you need a hunter or a farmer? Write down the template and use it as your guide for future steps.
    3) Assessment - For a few hundred pounds you can buy tailored assessment tools that give a highly accurate profile of sales strengths and weaknesses. Things like prospecting behavior, qualifying, negotiating, work ethic and much more can be accurately predicted. This combined with structured interviewing techniques and possible a mock sales meeting role play to measure gravitas, personality and communication skills can give a complete picture.
    4) Due Diligence - Make the reference calls yourself. Check for mutual contacts via LinkedIn and call them. Check Facebook and twitter. Find former colleagues of your potential recruit and call them. Too time consuming? HR’s job? No – think of the time you will have to waste on a poor sales person in the team!
    5) Offer – If you have found the right person find a way of making it happen. An additional £5k on a base salary or a higher grade / band on entry is not important in the wider scheme of things. The best people are the hardest to recruit but are normally worth the effort.

    Steve Buiskool

    Steve Buiskool

    Steve Buiskool is Managing Director of Sandler Training in Cheltenham. He works with companies who wish to increase their return on the investment made in their sales team and with local business owners who need to improve their own business development skills. Prior to starting Sandler Cheltenham, Steve had a 25 year sales career including Sales Director positions with CapGemini and Capita. He also specialised in leading major deals in the IT, BPO and consulting markets. Tel: 01242 420750 Mobile: 0750 750 5996

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  • Ego Thrives on Drama … and why there’s no place for it in your selling

    Buyers get whatever personality they need to buy from you unless you want to sell only to people who are like you are. If you make the mistake of thinking that there is a chemistry issue, then look in the mirror to see where the problem really lies. Granted there are some unreasonable people who no one in their right mind would want to do business with, and you absolutely have the right to decide, “I don’t want to ever work with this person”. And if that’s your decision, more power to your elbow. However, in most cases a lack of chemistry is down to you not really understanding yourself that well and not knowing how to adjust your behaviour to ensure the prospect feels comfortable with you.

    We teach our clients to use behavioural and communication tools like Extended-DISC (you may be more familiar with The Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator (MBTI) or some of Thomas International’s products) to begin to understand the preferences and pet peeves of different personality types, your own perceived need to adjust, the kinds of people you are likely to feel comfortable with and make comfortable easily, and those you will find harder work. We teach this because the number one job of any salesperson is to help the prospect become comfortable with you quickly and up front. Failure to achieve this level of comfort can badly inhibit your chances of success in any sales situation. In complex sales with multiple characters on the buyer side (or the seller side for that matter) can result in a good deal going south because you had the wrong people on the job or you didn’t adjust to suit the audience you are selling to.

    Now let’s take a moment to discuss ego and drama. A smart chap called Stephen Karpman came up with a very simple model called the Karpman Triangle or the Drama Triangle which describes every dissatisfying, dysfunctional relationship you can or will ever have. The triangle is always show on it’s point with the Victim at the bottom, making this a very unstable and precarious position to find yourself in. Let me ask you this question. Who is attracted to Victims?

    No, not “no one”. Persecutors and Rescuers are attracted to victims (and sometimes, so are other victims – so you can both wallow in self-pity).

    The other 2 points are made up of a Persecutor and a Rescuer. Victims sound like “Why me? it’s so unfair! You always do this to me!” In the sales role it might sound like, “Why does this always happen to me?”, “It’s so unfair!”, “Hey, that’s my lead!”

    Drama Triangle

    In order to stay out of this game playing drama, it is essential you stay in the Present instead of being stuck in scripted behaviour where blaming, attacking and helping without permission or boundaries is the the norm. To stay present you must be mindful, that is, in the moment. You don’t allow yourself to be triggered into any of the 3 points of the drama triangle, instead you respond by being Vulnerable, Nurturing or Assertive.

    Assertive vulnerability is the most powerful position for you to take. It means you are wiling to be hurt but you do it anyway, and you are absolutely clear about the boundaries that you are putting into place. In Sandler we teach that the three most important words in sales are “Nurture, Nurture, Nurture”, because you should be tough of behaviour, ruthless on time and kind to people. You must tell your prospects the “kind truth” but to do this you have to get permission. You can’t just slap them with bad news and not expect some reaction.

    Authentic Traingle

    We teach our clients a strategy called “up front contracting”. This comes from our Adult ego state (as opposed to our Critical Parent or Child), where we set out the parameters of our expectations and what we want to have happen by the end of our meeting or conversation. They learn how to set the ground rules and expectations up front so that both sides are protected from ambiguity; both sides agree what will happen at the end, right at the beginning. This prevents mutual mystification and means we never have to resort to mind reading. We agree what we don’t want to happen and that it is OK for either side to say to “no” without feeling any pressure. We raise objections ourselves before the prospect does; that way they arise at our time of choosing and so we meet virtually zero resistance in the sale if we are doing it right.

    If we allow our ego, or our scripted behaviour, or our need for drama to get involved in the decision, we will invariably lose the sale, and end up upsetting the other person. If we make ourselves the issue then we get between the prospect and their decision to buy from us. How does this possibly serve the prospect’s selfish self-interest? It doesn’t and it never does. It serves ours. And who wants to buy from a salesperson who has their own interests at the forefront of their attention? No one!

    Think about it, when was the last time a salesperson made sure you were OK saying “no” to them? And how often have you recoiled when the salesperson tried to put their hand in your pocket and close you? Naturally, everyone loves to buy, but we all hate to be sold, don’t we?

    Obviously, staying present isn’t easy or we’d all be doing it and we would never end up in fights, or feeling slighted. Our attachment to the outcome is part of our handicap as sellers. We teach our clients to “Get out of the result and get into the process”. This means you do each step of the sale excellently before moving ahead to the next step. We don’t focus on closing the deal or getting their money. If you stay in the Authentic Triangle and genuinely pay attention (notice the verb that goes with “attention” is “pay” – making it an investment) to the prospect, how they are responding to you and their situation, and you are genuinely curious to understand them and their condition, their vision and their obstacles, then you are both on the same side kicking into an open goal.

    Stay present and happy selling …..


  • Why are your prospects lying to your salespeople? And why is it your salespeople’s fault

    David Sandler, the founder of the Sandler Selling System wrote “All prospects lie – all the time” I love teaching this “rule” to my clients. The initial reaction is often one of resistance and sometimes open hostility. After all, we  all want to believe in the inherent goodness of mankind, and it’s a sin to lie, right?. Well, I believe that most people are ethical and wouldn’t dream of deliberately misleading anyone. BUT, when I ask those same people if they have ever lied to a salesperson when they have been in the buyer role behaviour in a buying situation soon becomes clear that misleading on purpose (i.e. lying) is an integral part of that process. Most of the people I speak with on this topic will admit to having been, at some point been less than 100% honest with a salesperson either at home or at work. Have you ever said “I’m just looking” when in reality you went to the store with every intention of making a purchase. Have you ever told a salesperson “My budget is £20,000 when you had £30,00 to spend? It’s as if there’s a loophole in our value systems. Lying is Bad. (Except to salespeople).

    I love watching my clients have a “light bulb moment” when they realise that just maybe, their prospects are behaving the same way as
    they do.

    In a blog post on Sales Machine, Geoffrey James lists the 10 most common lies customers tell as follows:

    1. “We can’t afford it”
    2. “ I’m not in the office.”
    3. “Our bidding process is fair.”
    4. “Your competition is cheaper.”
    5. “ I’m sorry I missed our meeting.”
    6. “I am the decision-maker.”
    7. “We always get a discount.”
    8. “Send me a brochure I will read it.”
    9. “I am away from my desk now.”
    10. “The check is in the mail.”

    Here’s my personal Top 5

    1. “We’re happy with our current supplier”
    2. “We’re not interested”
    3. “We’re really interested” (usually followed by a request for a
    demo, proposal, price list, specs etc)
    4. “There’s no budget for …”
    5. “We should be going ahead with you, we just need to run the
    proposal past …..”

    Perhaps you can relate to these, or even add a few of your own. So why
    do we lie to salespeople?

    On his blog, Seth Godin wrote:

    “People lie to salespeople all the time. We do do it because salespeople have trained us to. And we’re afraid.”

    I don’t like being sold to. I don’t think anyone does. We vigorously resist being persuaded. We don’t enjoy having our decision to say no questioned by the seller as they go into objection handling mode. We don’t like being pestered for decisions. All these things make us uncomfortable.

    But we train our sales people how to present highly persuasive pitches, we school them in how to overcome objections and to “go for the close”. Aggressiveness (often hidden under the euphemism of “dynamism”) and persistence are key qualities we recruit for in our sales teams. (It was not that long ago the term was sales force!)

    We have all had to learn a system to escape from the discomfort of traditional sales approaches. So instead of saying “ I’m sorry we don’t need this” we say. “We might look at this in the summer – call me then” Instead of saying “ I’m really not interested “We say “send me over some information – I’ll look it over”

    The social contract is broken on both sides, but it’s the salesperson who must take responsibility for causing it and therefore for fixing it. Following a system that restores the balance of respect buy avodart cheap and dignity between salesperson and prospect ultimately leads to mutually satisfying buying decisions. Are you feeling beaten up by clients who use the typical misleads on you? Do you have a case of the “hopa-hopa’s” waiting for clients and prospects to return calls and make decisions that they’ve promised, but haven’t delivered on?

    Are you willing to look at what you can do to change the interpersonal dynamics in your sales process, rather than accepting worn-out traditional approaches and the problem behaviours that go along with them? What can you do differently today to break the cycle of lies and mistrust?

    Steve Myers

    Steve Myers

    Steve heads up Sandler’s Manchester office. He is multi award winning coach, facilitator and mentor, currently working with owners and senior leaders of established and emerging companies in the manufacturing, technology and professional services sectors throughout the North West. A typical client will engage Steve because they face unresolved challenges in consistently and predictably matching their sales revenues to their growth expectations and because of Sander’s unmatched track record of success in implementing and permanently embedding transformative sales structures, processes and skill sets. Prior to Sandler, Steve enjoyed 25 years of successful sales and sales management on the international state. His experience spans small and medium sized enterprises as well as global corporate organisations. Steve is long standing member of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management as was elected a Companion of the Institute in 2007 having been appointed a Fellow in 1997. Tel: 0161 656 5779

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